How to Edit iBooks Meta Data under Mac OS X Mavericks

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Dated back to the WWDC 2013, when Apple announced iBooks would be an independent application in the OS X 10.9 Mavericks, all the iBooks lovers are exciting about the coming iBooks for Mac app. Finally the day came, but I heard much noise among the cheers. A lot of people think the iBooks for Mac sucks, because it doesn't allow people to edit the metadata.

People can't edit eBooks metadata in iBooks for Mac

Some people may even don't know what is metadata, to put it simply, metadata is the ID card for an eBook, like the cover, title, author name, publisher name, etc.

For those people who purchase eBooks from iBooks Store only, they might feel there is no need to edit the metadata. But a hard-core eBook fan won't think so, many downloaded eBooks don't have a complete meta information, like lack of cover or improper title spelling.

When the iBooks was only a child-column in iTunes, we can right click on an item then click "Get Info" to edit a book's metadata just like modifying a song's ID3 tag information.


But with iBooks for Mac in Mavericks, you only get this when right clicking on a book.


Sad story, feels like we are using a lite edition of iBooks, isn't it?

The reason that iBooks enables people to edit the meta date is pretty obvious-- they don't want people to use iBooks to read downloaded books, but only the books purchased from iBooks Store.

Edit metadata with Calibre for Mac

Although editing metadata with iBooks is impossible, it doesn't mean this is the end of the story. With another software, Calibre for Mac, we can edit book's metadata then load the book into iBooks for Mac app.

First we import the book into Calibre.

ibooks without cover

From the image above we can see that the cover of the book A DANCE WITH DRAGONS is missing, which is a pretty typical case where we need to edit the metadata to add cover.edit-metadata-in-calibre

Right click on the book title, choose "Edit metadata", then "Edit metadata individually".

In this window we can customize almost all the important metadata. In this case I need to add a cover to the book, so I click "Browse" in "Change cover" area. If you want to make it simple, just directly click "Download cover", and Calibre will search the cover from internet and add it for you.


After finding the cover image, click "OK" to confirm. Then you can see the cover in Calibre now.

But job has not been finished yet, in fact the cover is only added in Calibre's library. To display the book's cover in iBooks for Mac, we need to add the cover image into the book file.

No matter that we are adding cover or modifying the names, converting the book to EPUB again is necessary. Only in this way, we can completely edit the metadata inside the book, not only in Calibre library.

So the last step is to convert the book to EPUB, even this file is already an EPUB file.

Load the modified book into iBooks for Mac


Find the converted file in Calibre's library and drag it into iBooks for Mac. Now we can see the book displayed in iBooks for Mac with the gorgeous cover.

Using the same method we can also add or modify other metadata like title, author & publisher, genre, etc. On Mac OS X Mavericks even the iBooks for Mac enable us to do so.



joined Epubor since 2011, loves everything about eBooks and eReaders. He seeks the methods to read eBooks more freely and wants to share all he has got with you.

11/9/2013 13:44:55
Thank you very much. I've been looking for a tool to edit all my ebooks for months. Plus, the possibility to load metadatas directly from Google or Amazon is amazing.
11/14/2013 20:53:37

I have been using Calibre and iBooks on the iPad for 2 years now and its all been ok.

But now with the OS Mavericks, everything has changed. I did as you suggested, dragged the books from Calibre to iBooks on my mac (my Calibre library is perfectly organised with all the meta data in place). Unfortunately all this effort is in vain when I transfer to iBooks - it all disappears. Any suggestions?


11/18/2013 01:22:15
You mean all the modified meta data are gone?
11/18/2013 05:00:26
Yup, that's what I mean. It remains edited and organised in Calibre, but in ibooks, it reverts to the original downloaded data.
11/19/2013 20:03:54

After editing the meta data in Calibre, convert the book to EPUB again even it is already an EPUB.

Then drag the converted EPUB to iBooks and check the result.

11/30/2013 01:38:57
Hello I have the same problem. Since upgrading to mavericks it still goes back to its original format.
12/2/2013 20:00:16
After editing the meta data, you need to convert it to EPUB again to write the new meta data into the book.
08/19/2014 16:06:55
I have tried this and still am not having any success getting the metadata from Calibre to iBooks.  I am running OS X 10.9.4, iBooks 1.01 and Calibre 1.48.  I have tried downloading the metadata and then reconverting the book in ePub format and still no luck.  Any idea what I might be missing or doing wrong?
08/19/2014 19:05:20

After converting the book from EPUB to EPUB in Calibre, the new EPUB won't replace the old one.

So please make sure you are viewing the new EPUB file.

08/19/2014 19:32:31
Jonny, I've verified that I am using the correct file and still no metadata.  Even when I convert other file types, mobi, azw3 to epub the metadata still is lost.  There must be something I am doing wrong if others are not having the same issue.
08/30/2014 18:53:27

not only it would be nice to solve the "calibre to ibook issue", with all the changes in metadata file done through calibre,
it would be great to get ibook sync those updates in metadata files automatically, or even add new ibook, (once the calibre library had change) is there a way to get this?

12/7/2013 04:54:45
Great instructions, Jonny
The step of re-converting to epub in Caloiber was decisive for the success! Thanks
12/12/2013 07:04:25
I have been using this method, but the only thing I can't figure out how to change or add is the Category (genre).   Any ideas how to fix this?
01/13/2014 04:24:04
Lots of info about, as how to use Calibre, but sadly extremely little about how to import books from iBook.
05/19/2014 23:08:04
Awesome! Thanks
06/24/2014 04:38:25
Hi, thank you for the informations. I use Calibre because I read on iPad but also on eReader. Since Mavericks is on, I can't import my ebboks (those I bought on iTunes store): I Know where they are (the hidden files, blabla) but Calibre don't recognize them... Do you know how to put ebooks from itunes store in Calibre?
06/25/2014 20:26:39

Hi Tasha,

It's a pity that put ebooks purchased from iTunes to Calibre is impossible for now.

06/26/2014 04:18:31
Oh... Ok, thank you for your answer!
11/15/2014 12:35:33

I just figured out a way to get iTunes back to managing my books and pdfs (removed iBooks and use BookReader app for mac OS X to read locally. BookReader allows to import from iTunes and has it's own book shelf screen.

1.)  Kill the bookstoreagent service using the Activity Monitor.
2.)  Delete the file for that service: /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/CommerceKit.framework/Versions/A/Resources/bo okstoreagent
3.) Use AppCleaner (free app for mac OS X) to get rid of iBooks.

Problem solved!

02/12/2015 22:44:23
Wasn't working before, but now that I convert my files back to ePub it works perfectly
06/6/2015 15:47:38
The information in this article is one-of-a-kind. You have far surpassed all the other writers with your knowledge of this subject. I share your unique views. Thank you for taking time to get this right.
08/8/2015 19:54:02
I am glad you chose to share your knowledge through this article. I've been researching this information for a while and came out confused and disappointed until now. Thank you.
10/15/2016 07:18:42
Thanks for using inflated reviews to induce me to buy your product only to find it fails, then for having the gall to guide me through using the tried-and-true Calibre to do what you can't. No one in their right mind would go to all this trouble when Calibre does it all! I tried your product because my Calibre library is large and on a remote server. You might have mentioned in all those glowing reviews that you don't work at all on Mac. And take some grammar lessons, for heaven's sake!
06/15/2020 02:10:10

Is there command line access to epub metadata?

I have 9,000 pub documents that I want to enter into a database. I'm NOT going to use a graphical user interface (like Calibre) to do that! :-)

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