eBooks achieved unprecedented popularity, with the growth of the eBook business overwhelmingly accelerating amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
With more consumers at home glued to their devices, people are reading eBooks now more than ever. The radical shift in reading trends triggered by a surge in eBook sales and digital lending dealt a severe blow to the publishing industry.
Owing to their versatility, cost efficiency, and portable nature, eBooks have dominated the world of digital reading and how!
Unlike MP3s that work as soon as you pop them into any music player, eBooks are a different story altogether. Not every format is compatible with every eBook player. To make matters worse, they face plenty of proprietary concerns, making them quite complicated.
Are you a novice, new to the digital reading arena, puzzled by the maze of eBook formats available? Or do you intend on publishing your eBook, but the mere thought of choosing the best format for your project overwhelms you, and the technical elements are holding you back? Fret no more! We’ve got you covered.
In this blog, we address all you need to know about the popular eBook formats available, helping you choose wisely, like a pro!
Here are some popular eBook Formats available you need to know:
Formerly developed by the International Digital Publishing Forum in 2007, EPUB or Electronic Publication is the most extensively used eBook format.
The preceding popular Open eBook Format, the OEB, bore the brunt of its release since it was dumped and replaced by this eBook file format within a short span since its launch.
The fact that it can be virtually read on almost any device, be it a computer, smartphone, or any mainstream digital player, makes it the most widely supported format. However, the Amazon Kindle, apart from the Kindle Fire version, is an exception to this, which, unfortunately, is a significant downfall.
Since it is free of charge, open standard, vendor-independent, and economically efficient, this format has achieved flourishing popularity in the world of digital publishing.
Contrary to its precursors, the EPUB file format supports SVG graphics, interactive elements, and videos, which is another reason it took the digital world by storm. Another feature that adds significant value is that the EPUB format is DRM-protected and DRM system compliant.
The MOBI, similar to the EPUB, originated from the old OEB format. Launched as Mobipocket reader by Mobipocket, a French development company, it was acquired by Amazon in 2005, post which it flourished and gained immense popularity.
Amazon, however, decided to discontinue the company and disable its website and servers in 2016. Despite being replaced by the AZW file format, the MOBI continues to live on, with Amazon’s Kindle still utilizing the MOBI format structure but with a different DRM protection system.
The MOBI format is also compatible with nearly every digital reader, the exception being the Barnes and Noble Nook.
Unlike EPUB, the unavailability of open standards in the MOBI file format translates to public inaccessibility, which is the primary difference between the two. Sound or video is not supported by its files, yet another disparity between the two.
3. AZW and AZW3
Developed by Amazon for its Kindle readers, AZW files superseded the MOBI files and are DRM protected to limit sharing, allowing them to be read solely on Kindle products or Kindle apps.
The AZW debuted along with the first Kindle in 2007, whereas the next generation version of the AZW file, AZW3 (Kindle Format 8, KF8), was featured in the Kindle Fire Reader in 2011.
Both these extensions are Amazon’s proprietary eBook formats, the latter being the improved and advanced version since it supports additional fonts, layouts, and styles.
Commonly believed to be a derivative of the MOBI format, these formats are native to Amazon Kindle devices, accessible only through an eBook purchased or downloaded from the Amazon online bookstore.
Although both formats are identical to MOBI, they support sound and video, which MOBI does not. These formats are not supported as commonly on an eBook player as EPUB and MOBI, owing to their proprietary status.
Apart from Amazon’s Kindle, these formats are readable on most computers and smartphones, Android and iOS alike. Despite being readable on eminent eBook management apps like Alfa and Calibre, the AZW formats are incompatible with well-known digital readers like Nook and Kobo.
Developed by Apple, IBA is yet another proprietary eBook format for books created through the iBooks Author app. Being a proprietary format that relies on a custom widget code in the Apple iBooks app renders it incapable of being universally read by all eBook readers.
Additively, this format is limited to books written in the iBooks Author app. Hence, eBooks purchased through the iTunes store also will be supplied in an EPUB format. Much like the EPUB format, this one supports images, sound, video, and interactive elements.
Formerly Adobe’s proprietary file format, the Portable Document Format, is by far, one of the most prevalent and renowned eBook formats out there.
Its popularity and widespread adoption in the eBook world, owing to its readability across various devices, makes it a go-to option for circulating eBooks.The ease of usage and ability to maintain consistency of design and high-end formats account for its extraordinary reception around the web.
PDF bears similarities to the EPUB format since PDF is also open standard, making it widely accessible. Unlike EPUB, it only comes with basic copy protection and does not implement DRM, which is why piracy of such documents is a piece of cake.
One significant drawback, however, is that the texts in PDF are not reflowable. To complicate matters further, while all major eBook formats like EPUB and MOBI offer reflowing, PDF fails to automatically scale the font and adapt the text layout and presentation optimally to the screen resolution.
Although viewing text in a PDF on a small screen such as a smartphone can be problematic, it can be read on just about any eBook reader.
Which is the Best? EPUB, MOBI, or AZW?
EPUB, MOBI, PDF, and AZW happen to be the significant eBook formats in circulation and are the only ones you are most likely to encounter. Which format is the best, you ask? In truth, there are no right or wrong, bad or good formats and the answer to this question varies on several factors.
Is a Kindle-specific digital library what you mean to be creating? Do you plan on publishing widely? The MOBI format is what you should adhere to since it possesses the DRM capacity for copyright protection. If you are publishing precisely through Amazon, stick to the MOBI or AZW formats.
EPUB should be your preferred file format if you are looking to publish extensively or aim at creating a significant eBook library on your computer that is compatible with most digital players.
The Final Word
The success of your eBook comes down to investing a crucial amount of time in conceptualizing the theme of your eBook, identifying the delivery method that works for your target audience, how and where you intend on selling it, and accordingly deciding which format serves these requirements the best.
Since choosing the correct eBook format is imperative in reaching a wider audience, do not rush and conduct all your research before zeroing down on a format appropriate for your project.