How to delete iBooks you no longer want

How to delete iBooks you no longer want

iBooks is an excellent app that enables you to buy ebooks in the iTunes store and then read them on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. You can carry a whole library of books in your pocket, read them on the bus, train or plane, take them on holiday and so on. But how do you delete a book?

This might seem like a strange question, but it is an important one and a source of much irritation. The problem is that you can’t.

There are lots of free books in the store and you can download free samples of others before you purchase them. It is so easy to download books and samples that you can end up with a lot on your iPhone or iPad. The collection of books can become a bit of a mess.

This is because not all the books you download will actually be interesting. Some free books might not be much fun, and you could try a free sample, but decide not to buy the full book because it isn’t what you thought it would be (interesting).

Go to your library in iBooks and take a look at all the items. On the top shelf in the centre is an iPad user guide that is no longer needed because it is for the older iOS 7. Tap Select and then tap the book to select it. In the top left corner are two options: Move and Delete. Tap Delete.

iBooks on the iPhone


iBooks on iOS

Nothing appears to happen and the book is still there. However, there is a subtle change and in the top right corner of the book cover is a cloud icon. The book has been deleted from the device, but it is still on iCloud. This is so that you can download it again at any time and read it again. The problem is that you may not want to.

Tap Select again and tap the book again to select it. The Delete option is no longer available because the book has been deleted. However, there is a Move button. Tap it. Down at the bottom of the screen is Hide iCloud Books. Turn it on.

Delete books in iBooks


Remove books from iBooks

When you return to the books view, the book (and any others not actually on the device), is gone. This is not an ideal result because the book is not really deleted and is merely hidden, but it is the best that can be done. If you download a free book or buy a book, it is recorded as a purchase. All purchases are recorded in your account and you cannot ‘un-purchase’ something. This is why it cannot really be deleted and hiding is a fudge.

Now here is an interesting thing though. Run iTunes on the computer – Windows PC or Apple Mac, it does not matter – and log in to the store. Select the Books section and in the panel on the right are Books links. Click Purchased.

Hide books in iTunes

Your books are displayed and if you mouse over a book, a delete button appears in the top left corner of the cover. Click it.

Remove books from iTunes

As before, this does not delete the book, but there is an option to hide it. Click the Hide button.

Hidden purchases in iTunes

Hidden books do not appear in your account in iTunes and this is almost as good as deleting them. Unfortunately, after waiting an hour, quitting and restarting iBooks on the iPhone and iPad, hidden books still appear (unless iCloud books are set as hidden).

I hope that iBooks gets around to hiding purchases like iTunes does on the computer. This would enable books I no longer want to be removed. Maybe it will sync tomorrow, but then again, maybe not.

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