An eBook format should provide a good reading experience and great features, be an open standard or at least openly licensed format, that should support both publishers and hardware manufacturers, and ensure that it works at least for future updates, if not forever. Unfortunately, there isn’t one we can rely on!
Buying eBooks requires compromises and some beliefs. We always have to assume that our e-books won’t last long, this will help us with an impending disappointment.
There are many eBook format options available to both author and reader to choose from, and choosing an ideal one can be a bit tedious and confusing mostly because of the proprietary and open standard format of eBook. Another biggest challenge is that no EReader will support all the EBook formats.
Best eBook Format and their Pros and Cons
- EPUB – is the most widely accepted EBooks format. Developed by the International Digital Publications Forum (IDPF), it has become the most common EBook format, EPUB is an open standard defined, free to use, and is vendor-independent. It is a replacement for the old Open Electronic Book (OEB) format.
- Pros – It even supports color images, SVG graphics, interactive elements, and videos. Almost all EReaders and computer operating systems support the EPUB format, Publishers can also incorporate it into any DRM system of their choice. EPUB files support both reflowable and fixed layouts
- Cons – Amazon Kindle devices cannot read it, so if you have an EPUB format book that you want to read on your Kindle device, you should use Caliber to convert EBooks to another format.
- MOBI – MOBI files are specially designed for mobile and eReader devices with low bandwidth usage. The Kindle formats AZW3, KF8, and KFX are based on MOBI and are an Amazon proprietary format exclusively used on Amazon Kindle devices. MOBI files are also known as MobiPocket EBook files, later in the Year 2005, MobiPocket was acquired by Amazon.
- Cons – MOBI is not an open standard, Publically not available, Doesn’t support Audio and Video, It supports all the major EReader except Barnes and Noble NOOK.
- AZW and AZW3 – are the proprietary EBook formats from Amazon. AZW is the oldest version released in 2007 and the updated version AZW3 was introduced in 2011. AZW and AZW3 are similar to the MOBI format, Popular EBook management apps like Calibre and Alfa can read AZW and AZW3 format for Android and IOS
- Pros – AZW3 has more advanced features than AZW. It supports more styles, fonts, and
- Cons – AZW and AZW3 formats do not support video and audio. Since AZW and AZW3 are proprietary formats they do not support most of the EReaders as compare to EPUB and MOBI. AZW and AZW3 format does not support NOOK and KOBO EReaders.
- IBA – The .ibook format is created by Apple Inc. and is based on EPUB standards. It is available free for authors.
- Pros – The software generally allows import and export to three formats, those are iBook, plain text, and PDF. Supports Image, Audio, Video files, and DRM
- Cons – IBook restricts to reuse of the content in other EBook formats for sale. It even restricts authors on distribution and limits their sales through Apple. The format is used for books written in iBooks Author, It cannot be read in all EReaders as it depends entirely on the custom widget code in the Apple Book app.
- PDF – PDF format is widely adopted around the web, It is the most popular way of delivering EBooks, it’s the only second format on the list that’s an open standard, it became ISO 32000 in the year 2008.
- Pros – Compatible with multiple devices, can be read on devices like Foxit Reader, Adobe reader, PDF-Xchange Viewer, Nitro PDF reader, Xpdf, etc.
- Cons – A major drawback of this format is it lacks native reflowing, it just cannot adapt its presentation according to the screen size, Content is generally scaled for letter or A4 size sheets.