EBook formats, designed specifically for reading digital books and periodicals are of great relevance and immensely popular nowadays. Limitations in physical storage do not apply to eBooks and they are an efficient means to store and organize information. Moreover, an eBook can be simultaneously accessed by thousands of users and they can have access to updated content.
The various eBook formats include EPUB, MOBI, AZW, and PDF. Let us look at the distinguishing features of each of them.
EPUB is the most common of all formats and is supported widely across various platforms. The standard is maintained by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), a global trade and standards organization. The common features of EPUB format are as follows:
- Open standard format.
- Though the format is available publicly there are certain rules for its usage.
- EPUB can display reflowable content. Reflowable text is something that allows the text display to be optimized for the particular display device used by the reader.
- Widely accessible across platforms such as Apple’s iBooks, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and Adobe Digital Editions.
- Allows publishers to control document presentation through style-sheets.
MOBI is an open book format developed for the MobiPocket Reader and Amazon Kindle Readers. Common features of MOBI are:
- Suited for smaller screens, as the image size is limited to 64K
- It may have a .mobi extension or a .prc extension
- Can display reflowable content and fixed width layout
- Can take complex contents, and users can add their own pages, freehand drawings, annotations, highlights, bookmarks, corrections, and notes if devices support it.
AZW is a proprietary format (means Amazon alone can control its future) developed by Amazon, especially for readers of Kindle ebook. It is basically the MOBI format using the high compression option. Features include:
- Allows better compression and encryption.
- Allows inclusion of a table of contents with internal cross references within books.
- Is readable only using Amazon’s Kindle reader, along with Amazon’s corresponding applications for the iPhone, iPad, Mac, PC, Blackberry, and other platforms.
- Well suited for fiction books, memoirs, and general non-fiction books.
- The format is DRM (Digital Rights Management) restricted, preventing others from copying your work without permission.
The Portable Document Format or PDF is one of the oldest eBook formats and is the most widely used. Due to the popularity of the format, many tools are available to create, edit, and secure PDF documents. Therefore, PDF conversion and digitization in archived form are quite easy for web pages and documents. Major features of this format are:
- Supports fixed width layout and reflowable content.
- Can be digitally signed and securely locked against editing.
- Preserves the original layout of any document holding different types of data such as text, drawings, multimedia, video, 3D, maps, full-color graphics, or photos.
Users can easily convert documents from one format to another in keeping with their preferences. Technology and tools are greatly available for converting book to e-book, eBook to PDF, MOBI to EPUB, and many more.