eBook Formats

Just as there are multiple kinds of eBook devices, there are many different kinds of eBook formats. Not all formats are created equally, either. Each format has its own pros and cons and it’s important to understand the difference between them when looking into publishing your manuscript as an eBook.

EPUB – EPUB formatting is the standard formatting for most eBooks on today’s market. The International Digital Publishing Forum created this format as the open standard for eBooks. Most eReading devices and eReading apps are capable of reading EPUB format except for the Amazon Kindle. However, there are a large variety of programs that have been created to translate EPUB documents into Kindle-supported documents.

PDF – PDFs or portable document format files are supported on some eReading devices, but not all. PDFs were invented by Adobe in 1993 and have been heavily used online and elsewhere since. There are issues with the display of PDFs on many eReaders due to the fact that PDF files are designed to create fixed-layout pages. Displays on eReading and mobile devices can be problematic on a regular basis.

AZW – AZW is Amazon’s proprietary file format that was designed for their Kindle eReaders. The original format was compatible with Kindle only. The more recent versions of the file type have some backward compatibility, but it is very limited.

BBeB – The BBeB format was originally used by Sony eReaders. It was their proprietary file format for their eReaders. Since the company announced that they would no longer be making their readers in 2014, they began converting all of their books that were saved in BBeB format to EPUB. They have begun releasing all of their titles solely in EPUB format.

DOC and DOCX – DOC and DOCX file formats are simple file formats. These files are easily converted into other kinds of files. However, this file type in specific is not supported on many eReaders currently on the market. The support for this format is growing slowly mainly based on the ease with which they can be converted into other file formats. There are a few specific eReaders that are able to support this document type, however.

.html – HTML or Hypertext Markup Language is the format used on web pages. HTML does have the added benefit of being more customizable on some levels than the other formats that are popular. Several eBook formats use some features of HTML to make their own files smaller. eBooks formatted in HTML are also readable on web browsers. However, there is limited support for eReader devices for this format.

iBook – iBook format is an eBook format supported by Apple. The format itself is based on the EPUB format, however, small changes have been made to it that make it incompatible with EPUB readers. iBook format is also proprietary to Apple the way AZW is proprietary to Amazon.

These are a few of the most common eBook formats. As you can see, all of them have their own pros and cons. It’s important to choose the right formats for whatever platform you wish to publish on.