You know how Apple sometimes freaks out about protecting intellectual property, even disabling certain features to discourage piracy and push users to their own digital content stores? A good example is the iOS ecosystem – desktop iTunes is to this day needed in order to load your device with movies, TV shows, music and other personal media collections residing on your computer. In the case of the iBooks app which supports industry-standard ePub file format, the only way to transfer ePub-formatted e-books to the iBooks app was through – you guessed right – desktop iTunes and its file sharing option. Not anymore, though. Read on…

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Looks like Apple is no longer afraid that we might be reading pirated e-books on iOS gadgets as iBooks can now open ePub files directly. This includes accessing ePub files on web pages in Safari and opening ePub email attachments.

As a result, you can browse ePub collections on the Internet plus buy, download and import ePub releases straight into iBooks, bypassing a computer entirely. Purchased ePubs will be transferred to your desktop the next time you sync with iTunes. This one’s credited to Adam Engst of TidBITS who first discovered this change in the recently updated iBooks app.

Adam explains the practical upshots:

You can now transfer EPUB files into iBooks far more easily than before, when the only way was to drop them into iTunes and do a USB sync. For individual users, that means you can send yourself an EPUB via email and transfer the attachment to iBooks, and you can also copy EPUB files into Dropbox and use the iOS Dropbox app to send them to iBooks.

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