How I recovered some ePubs, originally downloaded from AO3, from my iPad onto my Mac
Before starting: Plug the iPad into the computer with a USB cable.
The "Second attempt" is what I wound up doing.
First attempt: iExplorer
1. I downloaded a free trial of iExplorer.
2. In iExplorer, I clicked Books tab. It showed all my iBooks, including ePubs.
3. I was then able to drag-and-drop individual ePubs to my computer (I created an "iExplorer books" folder for them).
4. However, I found those ePubs could not be read by my free ePub reader (Kitabu).
5. When I dug into the extracted ePubs from IExplorer, I found a folder, OEPS, which contained all the individual chapters of each fanfic as XHTML files.
6. Those individual chapters loaded properly into Sigil, a free ePubs editor, and I was able to see and read the text. So if all else failed, I could copy and paste the individual chapter text by hand into a word processor to recover them.
Second attempt: iTunes
iTunes has gotten very persnickety.
I found that my ePubs (and all iBooks) from a synced iPad were stored on my computer in ~username > Music > iTunes > iTunes Media > Books
However, I've sometimes had trouble with iBooks acknowledging ePubs. This seemed to work... today.
1. Start iTunes. If menu bar and/or Sidebar aren't showing, the cursor to the top of the screen to force the hidden menubar to show up (damn you, iTunes), go to the View Menu and escape Fullscreen. Then choose "Show Sidebar" from the View menu.
2. Choose File > Devices > Transfer purchases from "[MyiPadName]" (I think I may also have chosen Sync "[MyIpadName]"... I can't remember which finally did it).
Eventually... and it took bally forever, because it had to go through all the apps before it got to books... it did load in all the ePubs. So there they were sitting in iTunes.
3. Right-Click on a book name in iTunes and choose "Show in Finder."
Or, assuming they've gotten onto your computer, you can search for an author's name in Finder (e.g. "Owlmoose") to find the ~username > Music > iTunes > iTunes Media > Books folder where they're stored.
4. Once I'd navigated my way to an ePub OR author folder in Finder, I selected that folder and chose choose "Duplicate" from the File menu.
5. I took the result -- e.g. a folder named "Owlmoose copy" -- and dragged the copied folder away to a safe place out of the grubby mitts of iTunes. So now, finally, I had a liberated copy.
6. The liberated copy loaded properly in Kitabu.
7. To test that the copied ePubs could be put on another iDevice, I dragged one of the individual .epub files into DropBox. From there I was able to open it on my iPad in a different app (NaturalReader) and it was intact, functional, so I assume it could also be loaded back into iBooks if I'd deleted it (which I'm not gonna).
Okay. I have now shriven my soul, backed up the things that I really don't want to lose (fic, fic, fic-- all the apps are expendable but the fic MUST be saved), and I am ready to upgrade my iPad's operating system before iOS 7 and its ugly icons come out and make me never want to upgrade again.
I keep hoping the Jobsian lock on Apple will ease now that he's gone. There have been times in Apple's life cycle when it wasn't this obnoxious about DRM and proprietary locked-into-our-system content. Even now, it's not this bad on a desktop computer. But the iPad is so seductively easy to use that I sometimes forget my vow to keep it as a content viewer, rather than a place to store anything I couldn't bear to lose.
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