Photo by Luca Conti / Flickr
If you’re thinking about electronic publishing, knowing the basic ebook formats is important before you begin trying to compile your literary masterpiece or book of recipes. A lot of different choices exist, but some are better suited for some purposes than others. To help, the list of the commonly used ebook formats below should help get you started.
Basic Ebook Formats
Here’s a look at the ebook files currently in mainstream use.
EPUB – This is an open format that is based on HTML and XML that are used on the Internet. Originally designed by Open eBook Forum, it’s become one of the main standards today. A lot of different ereaders can read this format without any problems.
AZW – This is Amazon’s proprietary format for the Kindle ebook readers. Basically, it is very similar to MOBI except that it uses more compression to make the file sizes smaller. The format has changed a little since it first came out, but it’s still standard for Kindle ebooks.
LIT – Leave it to Microsoft to come up with their own ebook formatting. Once used by PocketPC and other Microsoft ebook readers, this ebook format was retired in 2011 and no longer being used. That said, there are still files out there in this format. If you come across one, you may have to convert it to another ebook format in order to be able to read it.
PDF – The Portable Document Format from Adobe has been around since the very early days of the Internet. Some – but not all – ebook readers are able to read basic PDF files.
ODF – OpenDocument format is another one that is based primarily on XML Not all ebook tablets are going to be able to read this type of file, but it’s standard for OpenOffice – a big, free competitor to Microsoft Word.
MOBI – This format was created to work with MobiPocket devices. Other devices can open these files – occasionally – but there are usually formatting problems, especially with images and tables.
Which one is best? It all depends as they each have their own list of pros and cons. Once you know a bit more about the different formats available, it’s easier to decide which ones you need to worry about when compiling your ebook. Luckily, once you have a master file, you can get software to create something with any type of ebook format you want.
You may also want to have PDF to Word software handy just in case you need to convert an old PDF document that you want to edit. The good news is that a lot of software exists online that can help you with PDF to Word conversion as well as a lot of other document formats. Once you start becoming familiar with all that’s available, you’re going to have an easier time.
Adam Prattler’s main interests are travelling, playing baseball and designing informative images.