PDF and EPUB are the two popular digital publishing formats in the world of eBooks. Both formats have their own advantages and provide comfortable reading experience.
Electronic publications are not just digital versions of paper publications, but are designed specifically to provide readers with information quickly and efficiently. EPUB is an open standard format that is freely accessible. It is quite popular when compared to other e-reader formats and is supported widely across various platforms. It is a standard maintained by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), a global trade and standards organization. The features special to EPUB format are:
- EPUB is a layout-agnostic format that allows the content to be read even on small screens.
- It is accessible across platforms such as Apple’s iBooks, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and Adobe Digital Editions.
- As it is written primarily in XML and XHTML, it works well with most types of software.
Portable Document Format (PDF) is one of the oldest eBook formats, created by Adobe Systems in 1993. It is greatly used for sharing documents with other computer users who may not have access to mutually-compatible application software. The shared document can be opened even with other software, other than the one from which it was created.
As a variety of tools are available on the web for creating, editing, and updating PDF documents, web pages and other documents can be easily converted to PDF format. Major features of this format are:
- Have fixed width layout and reflowable content
- Can be digitally signed
- Security locking facility against editing
- Control over layout and fonts
- Ability to include drawings, full-color graphics, multimedia, photos, videos, and hyperlinks
- Can be created using a variety of software without any programming knowledge
- Possible to view and print on various operating systems
PDF vs. EPUB – A Comparison
- Popularity: PDF is more popular than EPUB, which is evident from the sheer volume of PDF documents publicly available on the internet today. Moreover, there are innumerable PDF files in government organizations and businesses around the world.
- Multiplatform support: Both the formats are open standard, and can be viewed on multiple platforms such as Mac OS, Linux, and mobile devices including iPad and Kindle.
- Ease of reading: With PDF files, it is possible to view the files in exactly the same way as the original format. It can be perfectly read with PC or Mac OS whereas its readability is not optimal with mobile devices. To ensure smooth reading with mobile devices, EPUB is better than PDF.
- Layout: While PDF files retain the original layout as well as eBooks, EPUB provides reflowable content; the text display can be optimized for EPUB readers devices.
- Extensibility: PDF is more extensible than EPUB.
- Security feature: PDF is distinguished for its high security feature. Digital signature capability, protection from unauthorized users opening, copying, or printing are other characteristic features. DRM is optional in EPUB files, not something compulsory.
Even though with some common features, both the formats have their own specificities and unique features. When coming to eBook publications, EPUB is more suitable than PDF.