eBooks (iBooks) and Jamf process

Contributor II

Had my first teacher request an iBook distribution to her class. Since we have not done this to this point, wondering what the best way of going about this is.

We have classes setup (Infinite Campus > Apple School Manager > Jamf)
So, all students have a Managed Apple ID in Apple School Manager just waiting to be used, though none of used them so far.

We hide the App Store, so students do not have access to the App Store.

Since books need to be assigned to Users and not Devices, I am guessing I need to send out a VPP Invitation to the students in the classroom. I see NO WAY of quickly identifying those students though. Looking at Smart User Groups, there isn't a way of identifying a class (why not?). The "Criteria" options for Smart User Groups is bizarre to say the least. About the only one I can actually use is "Position" (why not Room? Or Department? or Building?). Which means I need to add a Position to each student, so I can create the Smart User Group.

Now I am not sure what will happen next. From the Documentation, it seems like they should get the invitation in Self Service. Since they have never used their Managed Apple IDs to this point, will they need to sign in to the App Store??? (hope not) and change their password (hope not again).

Any real world successes with Grades K-5 would be appreciated.


Valued Contributor II


We have not tackled this with our K-6 at this point. For 7-8, We have the students sign into their iCloud during deployment, at the top left in Settings. This will automatically sign them into the App Store as well for iPads on iOS 11.4.1 and higher. This is required for Jamf Pro to know that the user is logged in, as the license is assigned to a user. However I don't think the App Store actually needs to be visible.

They will be prompted to change their MAID password. We use 6 digit numbers and set a default of six zeroes for the initial MAID password. We have them use their lunch codes with zeroes in the beginning since the lunch code is less than 6 digits.

For the VPP Invitation, since these are MAIDs Jamf can auto-enroll the students into VPP. Check the documentation for 'Automatically register only users with Managed Apple IDs and skip Invitation'.

You may not need to use the Position field for all students, if you can identify them as students in a different way, say by email address. Unfortunately Extension Attributes do not have LDAP capability on the User side. :(


Contributor II

I am only guessing since I just started exploring, but the 'Automatically register only users with Managed Apple IDs and skip Invitation' only works if the students have already signed into their MAID accounts on the iPads and changed from their 'temporary' passwords. So they still actually need to sign in once (I was hoping to skip that altogether).

Once they have accounts on the iPad via the Users > VPP Invitation, the Users > VPP Assignments needs to be completed so the actual book(s) get assigned to the MAID.

It is difficult testing this since the eBooks cannot be revoked, and once a book is assigned the student has it. You need to test with the next student.

So, how can you identify a group of people by email address? All of our MAID accounts are <studentID>@neenah.k12.wi.us I don't see any way of using Smart User Groups other than the 1 Position field (very limiting).

Valued Contributor II

I'm pretty sure the invitation is working even though they aren't signed in. I seem to have a bug in my Jamf Pro where it says Invitation Failed but it was actually successful.

Purchase a free book and test with that! Or two!

We happen to have two methods for querying by email address - we prepend the expected YoG to their Student ID, and then we have a 'students' sub-domain. So 25Username@students.domain.com. You may need to put a student ID or the word 'student' in Position or even the YoG, depending on what you have in LDAP. Staff are Username@domain.com.

New Contributor III

For testing purposes, you should be able to purchase VPP licenses for a free ebook and use those codes to test.

Contributor II

Have you checked this out:

Hopefully you are using VPP. I have scoped thousands of apps using device assignment so that the end user has no need for an Apple ID or App Store access. As I understand it, ebooks can be distributed the same way. The only difference is that you can't revoke the book like you can an app.

Contributor II

Well, I distributed 4 FREE iBooks yesterday to 18 students. It was a horrible experience.

It does require a Managed Apple ID (MAID) to be registered on each device. We have MAIDs all set through Apple School Manager (ASM), but have not used them to this point.

So, I set the MAID temporary password to a 4-digit code (1234) for each student.

Users > VPP Invitations > Distribution Method "Automatically register only users with MAIDs and skip invitation" and Scoped the students in the class using a Smart User Group based on the Position field.

Users > VPP Assignments - selected the 4 iBooks to be distributed and again, Scoped the students in the class using the Smart User Group based on the Position field.

Users > eBooks - Scoped each eBook (yet again) to the Smart User Group based on the Position field - Distribution Method "Install Automatically/Prompt Users to Install (iOS only)" - all four eBooks displayed in Self Service.

Well, nothing happened automatically to say the least.

Since the students had not signed in with their MAIDs to this point, the first thing that happened when the open Self Service was a Dialog asking if they wanted to Register (at this point, we did not have the kids continue, instead I did all 18 students). Tap Register, and it asks for the students MAID. Why that wasn't done automatically since the User and Location has all that information, so JAMF should be able to retrieve it, I don't know, but typed in the students MAID and temporary 4-digit passcode. Then had to change the passcode. Then back to Self Service and click "install" on one of the iBooks (thought they were suppose to install automatically but didn't), which then opens the App Store ??? I would have thought if anything the iBooks Store would have opened, but the App Store opens. This didn't work at all when I had the App Store hidden from the students, so that is a big negative. Well, when the App Store opens, you have to Continue, then TAP a dialog box, then Agree to Terms and Conditions, then TAP another dialog box, then TAP yet another box saying that Apps and Books can now be distributed from your organization, yada yada…

Still, no book.

Go back to Self Service, which brings up another dialog box asking if you want to reregister, click OK, then try to install the iBook again. This time it opens the iBook Store within iBooks and brings up the iBook you want to Get, with the "Download" listed (again, I thought this was suppose to happen automatically, but NO). TAP download and the download begins. At this point, I can dismiss this dialog, and then TAP library at the bottom of the screen, which shows the 4 iBooks overlapping and the 1 iBook downloading. TAP the large icon, and all 4 iBooks are now displayed side by side. Only 1 of the 4 iBooks is downloading (why aren't all 4 since it was suppose to happen 'automatically'?). TAP the other 3 iBooks (requires tapping each book twice to get the download started though for some reason), and all 4 iBooks are finally installed.

Elementary students would never be able to go through this process.

Valued Contributor

iBooks are a bit of a nightmare. We've finally got them working but it requires the user to be signed into the Apple ID that they associated their VPP invite with. This means that users that are not using MAID's could have signed up using any email address and we have no way of finding out what it is. We can only re-associate their account.

I wish the automatic registration of MAIDs for users using them was a bit quicker. Most of our students are now using them but some are still using old accounts. When users switch to MAIDs we have to reset their VPP association so they can get the iBooks.

Valued Contributor II

@bvondeylen I feel your frustration. A couple of thoughts.

The iPads need to be signed into the MAIDs and the numeric password changed. This is not something Jamf can do.

Your immediate 'Register' prompt may have been the first eBook trying to auto-install, before you had signed into the MAID.

I would suggest removing the step of adding the eBooks into Users > eBooks. Automatic Install isn't working well for you anyway. Then once you are signed into the MAID, launch iBooks and go to either Purchased or Library and download them directly. Since they are User Assigned they will be listed there.

My users are signed into the MAID at deployment so an Update Inventory has already been done - Jamf knows the User is logged in. Not sure if this is required so I'm suggesting it here at the end.


New Contributor

I just did all the steps to get a free ebook and it worked. Showed in self service and installed into Books.


Thanks for this thread, it helped me a lot as we just tried this for the first time. I foolishly assumed Apple had updated this to be on par with device-assigned app deployment. No such luck. We're especially disappointed to find out we don't retain ownership of our books, either. I can imagine that drives away a lot of EDU customers, but I'm sure book publishers aren't fond of that idea even moreso than app developers.

New Contributor

I have 20 ipads im trying to download ebooks to with no success. It says 'awaiting vpp' licenses. Could anyone give me help please? It is breaking my heart

New Contributor II

Current ebook deployment error:

e-book licenses purchased in Apple School Manager. All deployed devices have Managed Apple IDs assigned and signed in. E-book scoped to smart user groups. All restrictions removed from device. E-book deployment tested with both automatically install and Self Service manual installation. Device management tab error: "Could not find volume purchase program assignment." 

Current ticket open with JAMF Support, open May 2021.


Any insight or workarounds welcome.