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Guide to Ebook Formats

Which Ebook Formats Should You Use?

There are many proprietary e-book formats on the market today. But you need only a few widely-used formats to reach a major chunk of the e-reading market. These are the ebook formats we generally recommend. 


The Mobipocket format is proprietary to Amazon Kindle and includes some unique formatting requirements. We generally include Mobi as part of our conversion package because Kindle has one of the largest e-reading audiences. The Mobi format also allows for Digital Rights Management (DRM) which encrypts a file before downloading to the consumer. The file is locked to the user’s registered device. Many authors prefer not to use DRM, as it can sometimes be more of a deterrent to the book buyer and isn’t 100% foolproof. In most cases, DRM is added at the retailer level and is not part of the delivered Mobi file.


Kindle eBooks can be read on any of the Kindle devices, as well as in any of the Kindle Apps for PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Blackberry, etc.



The EPUB format has become an industry-wide standard for eBooks. This format is utilized by Barnes & Noble, Sony and many other eBook stores. Apple iBooks (for iPad and smart phones) utilizes EPUB files that have been optimized for that particular format. The DRM added by most retailers is different than that the DRM Apple applies. It’s called Fairplay DRM and it’s not compatible with any other eBook device or application.


EPUB books can be read on Windows and Mac computers with Adobe Digital Editions; on the Barnes & Noble NOOK and NOOKcolor; on all of the Sony Reader devices; on the iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch in iBooks and in other apps; on the Android system in Aldiko and other apps as well as at several online sites and on other handheld devices. If you are considering a device or bookstore that is less well-known, be sure to check if they accept EPUB files.


BBeB (BroadBand eBook) is a proprietary eBook format developed by Sony for use in the Sony Reader. The BBeB format can't be used on any other devices, so its scope is limited. Sony now supports the EPUB format thus the BBeB format is becoming extinct. DRM can be applied by the retailer.


BBeB files can only be read on the Sony Reader. LRF and LRS files can also be converted by other applications like Stanza and calibre into formats that are readable elsewhere.


While PDF is a commonly-used format, especially on computers, if you plan to use the format to sell your e-book remember that you must have a linkable Table of Contents and Index, just like your other eBook formats. In some cases, manually creating a TOC and index can be time-consuming. Using your MS Word file to create the TOC and index before converting to PDF can save some work, but that’s part of the pre-formatting we do here. The format does allow files to be secured with special permissions (usually called Digital Rights Management, or DRM).

DRM: PDF files can be secured with Digital Rights Management (DRM),


PDF files can be read on most computer systems with Adobe Acrobat Reader or 3rd party programs. Adobe Digital Editions, a free eBook library and reading program, supports PDF files and is available for Windows and Mac machines. The Kindle DX and Sony's devices also support PDF files without the need to convert the file, though the DX's larger screen provides a