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eBook File Formats

eBooks are books that are delivered to the reader in electronic form. In most cases, the reader will then read them on a screen (it could be the screen of a computer, a tablet, a mobile phone, or an eBook reader device), although in some cases readers may have the option to print them if they want.

There are many different file formats that eBooks can be delivered to the reader in. The author and/or publisher chooses the format appropriate to their needs - each format has different capabilities, and of course not all formats are compatible with all devices and/or computer operating systems.

Some eBooks or eBook packages actually combine a number of formats - for example - some content may be provided as PDF downloads, and other content as videos to be watch online. Likewise some authors may elect to offer their eBook in a choice of formats - for example, customers might be able to choose to get their eBook as PDF or as a Kindle eBook (in the Mobi Pocket format).

Here are some popular eBook file formats:
  • PDF:

    The PDF file format is format originally devised by Adobe as a form of "digital paper". Basically it allows documents to be shared in electronic form while retaining all the formatting information.

    PDF files can contain hyperlinks and are often searchable. It is possible for PDF files to include some other interactive features (such as forms) although these are relatively less commonly used. Additionally, some PDF files may be protected against copying by "DRM features, although these are relatively uncommon.

    In order to view a PDF file, a user needs software such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, although there is also other software available for viewing PDFs. Software for viewing PDf files is available on PCs running Windows and Linux, Apple Macintosh, many handheld devices, and some other platforms too.

  • EXE:

    EXE files are self-contained Windows programs intended to be run on Windows PCs (they will generally not work on Windows RT tablets or Windows phones).

    There are many different eBook Compilers that authors can use to create EXE files, including Activ E-Book Compiler. The exact features and type of content that eBook Compilers convert into EXE format varies depending on the software.

    In the case of Activ E-Book Compiler, the software converts HTML and graphics web files (similar to those used to make a website) into an eBook. Such eBooks can contain many interactive features including search, hyperlinks, resizable text, forms, animations, video, sound, etc., as well even "software-like" features such as games, quizzes, software functions, etc.

  • Mobi Pocket:

    Mobi Pocket is the format used for Kindle eBooks, as well as being supported on a number of handheld readers. It is also possible to read Mobi Pocket files on the PC or Macintosh, although special software is needed for this, for example, the Amazon Kindle application or the Mobi Pocket reader software.

  • EPUB:

    EPUB is the eBook format used by (or at least compatible with) most handheld eBook readers, although Amazon's Kindle is a noteworthy exception with this. As with Mobi Pocket, it is possible to read EPUB files on your computer if you have the right software.

  • Web:

    Rather than worrying about download file formats, some authors instead choose to simply publish their content on a website. In some cases, the website may be password-protected, or a "member's only" site. In any case, once you get access, anybody with a web browser - which can be a computer or a handheld device - should be able to access the information. The downside to this type of publishing is that the reader must generally have a live internet connection to access the content.

  • Audio:

    Some authors choose to publish all or part of their content in audio format such as MP3. In this event, any compatible device should be able to play back the audio.

  • Video:

    Some authors choose to publish all or part of their content in a video format such AVI or WMV. Of course, not all devices support video, or all video formats.


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