Recommended eBook Formats for Independent eBook Publishers

November 12, 2012 in Articles, Formatting eBooks

Putting aside some of the older technologies, eBook formatting now seems to be settling down into three leading formatting options:

  • PDF Format
  • EPUB Format
  • MOBI Format

PDF Format

The PDF format or ‘portable document file’ is an option created by the Adobe software group. PDF files can be created fairly easily by the masses using PDF convertors that typically hi-jack the print function of a word processor or in fact many software programs that have a printing facility. PDF Creator is a program that can be used for this purpose and is available on line as a free download using the link provided.

The whole point of a PDF file is that it allows a document to be easily read and shared between PCs but it is difficult to edit without a special editing program. For example, a word processor file, or excel spreadsheet can be easily converted to a PDF. So from the provider’s perspective, they can retain a reasonable element of protection for their document but can at the same time share it easily allowing third parties to view it but not necessarily edit it.

Adobe give away the software that can be used to view PDF’s for free. So if you own a PC and want to view or print documents easily, including eBooks, the PDF is normally the best option.

Please Note : A PDF is not necessarily the best option for mobile devices or Amazon’s Kindle device.

EPUB Format

Other than for Amazon eBooks, the forerunner in eBook formatting is the EPUB. Many of the major distributors have adopted EPUB as their standard. Nook, Sony Reader, KOBO and Apple iPads & iPhones. The format can also be read by the main reading apps of Stanza, Aldiko and Adobe Digital Editions. There is a complication associated with EPUB, however, the need to have the file pass an EPUB check before the major distributors will accept it for publication.

The EPUB check is there to ensure purchasers of eBooks in the EPUB format don’t encounter any formatting problems. Basically if you want to be sure the file will work on any eReading device that runs EPUB without any problems, then it needs to pass the EPUB check. Hence the reason the major distributors will not accept an EPUB until it passes the check.

MOBI Format

The MOBI format is the basis of the Amazon proprietory program file AZW, they are almost identical in terms of format and coding. If you create a properly formatted MOBI file it will be viewable on a Kindle device or using Kindle apps with the functionality that the Kindle provides. i.e. flowable text, selectable font size and line spacing etc. Plus if you decide to publish on Amazon they will accept the file in MOBI format which they will then convert to their proprietary AZW or KF8 (the latest format that runs on Kindle Fire), but you will have the advantage of checking out that the file is correctly configured and works on an actual Kindle before you upload it through the KDP program i.e. by copying your mobi file into the ‘Documents’ directory of your Kindle you will be able to read it in much the same way you can read a book purchased from Amazon in one of their proprietary formats.

For some examples of MOBI formatted Kindle books please review the following list:

Some major distributors offer or insist on digital management rights, but as an independent ebook publisher it is probably a good idea to avoid DRM and simply write a statement asking readers to adopt an honesty policy. For the percentage of people that may try and take advantage of your non-DRM approach you are likely to have many more honest buyers that will simply be happy to pay for the product, especially if you have your book fairly priced.

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