Thanks to eBooks, avid readers can now take their library of books and magazines on their e-readers, phones and tablets wherever they go. They can read at their leisure during commutes and waiting times. Ebooks come in different formats depending on the device of the user. These include Mobipocket (.mobi), EPUB (.epub) and Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF). These remain the big three of eBook formats but many readers prefer consistency and tend to stick to one or two instead of having to contend with more unless they’re desperate to read a certain title or document.
Mobi or Mobipocket
Earlier devices such as PDAs and early mobile phones and e-readers used Mobipocket during the rise of mobile computing in the early 2000s when feature phones and PDAs were the norm. The Mobipocket software was free and available on a wide range of devices. But of course, the ebooks were not but the free nature of the software allowed the format to become widespread. For publishers who want to publish on Amazon, it was the format to use. Amazon however discontinued the format for their ebooks in 2016, but there’s still a lot of readers to go around so publishers can still publish independently using the format. But compared to the newer ePub format, file sizes for mobi are larger and the ePub format closely mirrors the hardcopy format that the authors intended. Nevertheless, in case you need a good online converter for Mobipocket files you can use mobi2pdf which does an excellent job.
Epub as an ebook format gained popularity by 2007. It is short for electronic publication and is a technical standard by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF). EPub is based on XML, stored as an archive of HTML text, images and support files. That makes ePub very flexible and is available for a wide number of eReaders and is currently the most widely supported ebook format. EPub now supports comic books, proper display of math equations, more fonts and better CSS. Epub also allows the ebooks or documents to properly flow depending on the device’s screen. EPub is native on modern Android devices unlike the Mobi format where users need to download Amazon’s Kindle app to read. Like Mobi, editing software for Epub is free and there are more to choose from. This gives authors and publishers more options when it comes to editing. Also, unlike Mobi, ePub files are smaller making it more economical for low-end device users who can’t afford high-capacity devices. In case you want to read your Epub files on your local computer an easy way to do so is simply converting the Epubs to PDF.
PDF is almost universal as it can be used by e-readers, smartphones and desktop PCs to view not just eBooks but almost any type of document. It is also a popular format for eBooks as it does not require any special reader as most devices and operating systems support PDF natively. For authors and publishers who want the most coverage, PDF is an attractive option. However, PDF is not as flexible as Mobi or ePub as PDF formats tend to be static depending on how the file is encoded. Depending on the device or reader app, users may see all manner of abnormalities in their ebooks unless the book was authored directly on Adobe Acrobat or put through a high-end PDF conversion tool.
For universal access, PDF is the best format to use by authors and publishers as anyone with an e-reader, smartphone or computer can read it. For the best eBook reading experience on dedicated e-readers, readers should go for ePub or Mobi. Currently, ePub is best as it continues to be improved as the Mobi format has lost momentum. Also for PDFs there are excellent online tools which make your live much easier. One example is the following one which converts any PDF to JPG.