Comparison of the 10 Best eBook Formats

People were least concerned about eBook formats when the trend of digitization was at its infancy. Gradually, new eBook formats got introduced in the market due to the increased readership of the digital versions. Apart from that, their inexpensiveness and portable features were one of the top reasons which led to an increase in sales of those eBooks.

types of ebook formats
eBook file extensions

Both authors, as well as readers, now have more than enough options from which they can choose the ideal one for them but it can be a bit confusing. It is mostly because of the proprietary and open standard format of eBooks. Apart from this, another challenging thing is that all the e-readers do not support every eBook format.

So, one good way to overcome this trouble is by approaching a professional digital conversion company offering eBook conversion services. The companies working in the domain usually have the right experience and knowledge to advise you regarding the best format based on your needs and budget. However, before outsourcing your requirements to an eBook conversion company, understanding the key differences between the different electronic book formats is vital and will be helpful in the future.

So, if you are concerned about finding the best eBook format according to your needs, then here’s a little guidance on how to do it. In this article, we have provided a brief comparison on the most widely used as well as easy-to-use eBook formats.

Top 10 eBook Formats and their Differences

Let’s see the top 10 popular eBooks formats and how they differ from each other.

  • EPUB

    File Extension: .epub
    Image Support: Available
    Audio Support: Available
    Video Support: Available
    DRM Support: Yes

    Supported on almost all digital platforms, EPUB is a widely accepted eBook file format that every company recommends without any hesitation. The files in .epub are supported by around 300 eReaders, including Barnes and Noble’s Nook, Apple’s iBook and Adobe Digital Editions, etc. EPUB is completely free to use and is an open standard and vendor-independent format. It is capable of displaying both a fixed width layout and reflowable content.

  • Mobipocket

    File Extension: .prc or .
    Image Support: Available
    Audio Support: Not available
    Video Support: Not available
    DRM Support: Yes

    Mobipocket or MOBI is based on an open eBook standard that facilitates hassle-free eBook publishing. It is compatible on multiple platforms but with one exception, i.e., the Barnes and Noble Nook. Readers can incorporate extra pages, dictionary, annotations, sketches, corrections, highlights, bookmarks, and more according to their requirements.

    Companies offering eBook formatting and conversion services recommend this if you are targeting mainly on audiences using smaller screens as the image size can’t exceed 64K. With larger devices, the images may appear weird.

  • Kindle (Amazon)

    File Extension: .azw, .azw3 or .kf8, .kfx
    Image Support: Available
    Audio Support: Available
    Video Support: Available
    DRM Support: Yes

    Brought in by Amazon, the Kindle is specifically suited for Kindle eBook readers or kindle supported formats. It can be considered as an enhanced version of MOBI with features including better support for encryption and compression. It is available on a variety of platforms, however can be accessed only through the Kindle app. These files can be obtained only from Amazon book stores. It can be read only on the device to which the book is automatically registered with the purchaser’s user account.

  • PDF (Portable Document Format)

    File Extension: .pdf
    Image Support: Available
    Audio Support: Available
    Video Support: Available
    DRM Support: Yes

    PDF is one of the most common eBook file formats and was created by Adobe. The popularity of this eBook grew extensively because of its compatibility with multiple devices. It can be read on various devices like Foxit Reader, Adobe reader, PDF-Xchange Viewer, Nitro PDF reader, Xpdf, etc. Most of these tools are freeware. However, one drawback of the PDF format is that the content is generally scaled for letter or A4 size sheets.

  • ODF

    File Extension: .doc, .xls
    Image Support: Available
    Audio Support: Available
    Video Support: Available
    DRM Support: Yes

    ODF or Open Document Format is an open-source file format based on XML. It is used for exchanging or saving charts, texts, spreadsheets, and presentations. The files that are saved under ODF are known as ‘OpenDocuments’. It is an international standard that is supported by multiple applications and can be incorporated into various software frameworks, business software, web applications, or eReaders. The ODF format is best for people with visual disabilities as it allows them to access a wide range of applications.

  • Rich Text Format

    File Extension: .rtf
    Image Support: Available
    Audio Support: Available
    Video Support: Available
    DRM Support: Yes

    RTF is a document file format that is supported by many eBook readers. It was developed by Microsoft Corporation with major revisions of Microsoft Word and Office versions. It is mainly intended for sharing and saving of documents. There are various advantages of using this format, i.e., it is reflowable, supports easy editing, enables conversion to other eBook formats, offers multi-device compatibility, etc. However, one of its drawbacks is that it lacks semantic definitions.

  • DjVu

    File Extension: .djvu
    Image Support: Available
    Audio Support: Available
    Video Support: Available
    DRM Support: No

    This format is mainly intended for storing scanned documents. It consists of advanced compressors that are optimized for low-color images, such as text documents. It enables high-resolution scan (300-400 DPI) that is good for on-screen reading, printing, and storing purposes. The contained page images are divided into separate layers like low-resolution, background layer using lossy compression, few-colors, high-resolution, multi-color, tightly compressed foreground layer, etc.

  • Doc

    File Extension: .doc
    Image Support: Available
    Audio Support: Available
    Video Support: Available
    DRM Support: No

    It is a document file format that is supported by only a few eBook readers. One of its main advantages is that it can be reflowed and easily converted to other eBook formats. Besides, it also provides easy editing features that can be done with the help of Microsoft software or several other programs. Since its original release, the format has been changed several times, which made it vulnerable to numerous incompatibility difficulties between various releases and the assorted programs.

  • iBook (Apple)

    File Extension: .ibook
    Image Support: Available
    Audio Support: Available
    Video Support: Available
    DRM Support: Yes

    The .ibook format is created by Apple Inc. and is based on the EPUB standard. It is available to authors for free but does not allow them to re-purpose the content in other ebook formats to be sold outside the iBookstore. This software usually supports the import and export of three formats, i.e., ibook, Plain text, and PDF. Besides, it also puts the distribution restriction on authors that they can sell the .ibook files only through Apple.

  • TomeRaider

    File Extension: .tr2 or .tr3
    Image Support: Available
    Audio Support: Not available
    Video Support: Not available
    DRM Support: Yes

    TomeRaider is a proprietary format that is available in various versions for Windows, Windows Mobile, iPhone, Palm, Symbian, etc. Its feature may vary according to the type of platform used. For example, when it comes to Windows and Windows Mobile edition, it supports both HTML and CSS. However, the support for Palm edition is only limited to HTML and not CSS. There are over 4000 e-books available in this format, including free versions of Wikipedia and Internet Movie Database.

How to Choose the Right eBook format?

If you have understood the differences between the most common ebook file formats, then let’s go ahead and decide which format to choose that will best fit your ePublishing needs. Choosing the right format can be bit difficult, especially if you are new to the domain. However, to help you, we have compiled a list of the 3 crucial things that you must consider while selecting a format. They are:

  • Target audience

    Always know your target audience, i.e., the ones who will be reading your eBook. Taking time to understand your audience will help you to formulate strategies that can boost your promoting and marketing initiatives.

  • eBook distribution area

    Mostly, the eBooks are distributed in two ways, i.e., either on the website of the authors or through online retailers. If your eBook is for self-publication purposes, then look for an online retailer like Amazon to distribute your eBooks. On the other hand, if the eBook is marketing collateral, then it is best to distribute it directly on your site. For online retailers, you can use formats like AZW, AZW3, or MOBI. However, for website distribution, a reflowable EPUB, fixed layout EPUB, MOBI, or PDF is recommendable.

  • Content of eBooks

    If your eBooks are having only texts but no visuals, then PDF and text will be the best choice of format. However, if it has more graphics, then it is better to choose a fixed layout EPUB or PDF.

If you want to choose the eBook formats depending on the device compatibility, then for Android, Sony Readers, Nook, Nook Color, and Nook Tablet, EPUB is the best. For PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, choose PDF or EPUB format. And, when it comes to Kindle and Kindle fire devices, MOBI or PDF is the best.

Always keep in mind that choosing the right format for your eBook readers comparison is a crucial step in not just making your eBook successful but also in reaching a wide range of audiences. You may be looking for the best ebook formats for Kindle or any other device, however, having comprehensive knowledge on the different types of eBook formats will help you to choose the correct format that can seamlessly serve your purpose. So, take the time to collect all the desired information to narrow down the best option for your project needs.

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