How to link to books on the iBooks store

Apple has a fairly well-documented mechanism for publishers wanting to load their ePub books on to the new iBooks store, but working out how to link directly from your own website to a specific book within the iBooks store is not quite so easy. Luckily, it’s easy once you know how. Our friends we are working with at White Crow Books received this information from Apple, and shared the magic with us. Here’s our step-by-step guide.

  1. First, make sure your title has uploaded to the iBooks store and is available for purchase. If you don’t have an iPhone or iPad to hand, you can check the status of uploaded titles from a PC or Mac by logging in to your iTunes Connect account. Click on ‘Manage Your Books’ and make sure that the title you want to link to has a little green dot underneath its cover image (a yellow dot means it’s still being processed, and is not on sale yet).
  2. Assuming your title is showing, you now need to build the link. It’s an ordinary HTML link you need, where the HREF attribute contains the address of the book on iBooks. So to build a link to Essential’s history of the Mini (with its foreword by Jeremy Clarkson, no less), we’d start out with:
    <a href="[URL of title on iBooks will go here]">Buy Mini by Brian Laban and Jeremy Clarkson on iBooks</a>
  3. The address that goes in the HREF attribute starts out with http://itunes.apple.com
  4. To this, add a forward slash and the relevant country code for the particular iBooks store you want to send people to. The code for the US store is – wait for it – US and the code for the UK store is GB. In our example, this gives us http://itunes.apple.com/gb Note that each link is for one national iBooks store only, so if you want links to the same title on sale in the different national stores (and our books are on sale in all of the stores launched to date), you will need a separate link for each one.
  5. Next, stick on another forward slash and the word book, giving us http://itunes.apple.com/gb/book
  6. Then, add one more forward slash followed by the letters isbn and the ISBN of the title you are linking to. The ISBN for Mini is 9781906615048 (don’t use any spaces or hyphens), so that the final HREF is http://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/isbn9781906615048.
  7. Put this HREF in your link, and you can now direct readers straight into the iBooks store. In our example, the working link code is <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/isbn9780748122721">Buy Mini by Brian Laban and Jeremy Clarkson on iBooks</a>, producing: Buy Mini by Brian Laban and Jeremy Clarkson on iBooks. Web surfers using an iPad or iPhone with iBooks installed will be taken straight into the iBooks store application, while everyone else is forwarded to a page about that book on Apple’s regular website.
  8. Remember you can also use all the other attributes you might normally use in an HTML link, such as the title attribute for the little text hint that appears when the user hovers over the link.