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Skip Navigation LinksHome > Our Formats > eBook Introduction
A Beginners Introduction to eBooks

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Q: What are the common eBook and electronic file formats?

ePub, Mobi, .Lit, web-ready PDF, Braille and DAISY.

ePub files are used in the following channels: Apple, Barnes and Noble, eBooks Ltd, Google, Kobo and Sony.

Mobi is used for both Kindle and Mobipocket – owned by Amazon. Mobipocket sell software to read books on many other devices.

.Lit is an early Microsoft eBook format.

Web ready PDFs are PDF files that can be read on computers and some Tablets.

.Brf Braille files are files formatted for a Braille embosser. Braille files usually cannot be read by normal readers. There are 6 versions of Braille.

DAISY files are used by the blind and dyslexic. DAISY files usually have voice – often synthesized voices – and are currently different from MP3 files because they allow a reader to navigate directly to a chapter or paragraph.


Q: What is the difference between a PDF and ePub?

A PDF has formatted pages like a book. An ePub file is not paginated. It is a giant text string and the file is displayed by the device according to the settings applied by the user. For example, the user can choose different fonts and different sized type, which changes the amount of text that can be viewed on the screen


Q: Is there a difference between different eBook readers?

People can read eBooks on smart (mobile) phones like the iPhone, PC and net computers, on single purpose readers like the Kindle, Kobo, Nook and Sony eBook readers andon Tablets, like the iPad.

Worldwide, the most popular eBook reader device is the smart phone, and as larger and higher resolution screens become more widely available, smart phones may retain their popularity, especially in the developing world. There is intense competition in the smart phone market.

Microsoft offers windows 7 for smart phone which is used by various vendors such as Nokia and Samsung. HP has bought Palm. Google offers the Android operating system for free.

eBooks are commonly read on PCs and net computers, which are becoming cheaper – the disadvantage has been weight and portability.

Single purpose readers, like the Kindle, use eInk screens which more closely resemble paper, and are preferred by many people over PC screens. These devices only consume power when the page is being turned. These devices cannot currently display animation, have poor resolution images and have limited other uses. Colour eInk screens have been announced, and resolution may improve.

Tablets, like the Apple iPad, offer more sophistication and apps than asingle purpose eReader. Readers who want only one device may opt for a Tablet.

Competition and demand will drive down costs for all devices and drive rapid innovation. This in turn is likely to drive new eBook file formats.


Q. What new Tablets will be available in the next 12 months?

There are many new entrants to the Tablet market. ACER has announced Iconia. Blackberry is launching its new Tablet (Playbook). HP has announced a Palm OS based Tablet (Touchpad). Google has introduced the Android operating system and licenced this free to large companies (including Samsung who have released the Galaxy Tablet). Other Android tablets have been announced. Microsoft has released Windows 8 - designed to run on a Tablet AND a traditional PC. If current applications running on PCs can run on a Tablet, Microsoft is likely to be a formidable competitor in the Tablet market.


Q: How will competition in the eBook reader market impact eBooks?

Competition will force manufacturers to add features and functions to their eBook readers.

These new features will often require additional mark up in eBook files.

The changes to the ePub file format required by Apple for its iPad 2 is a great example. The new iPad features high resolution images - and publishers need to provide them.

This trend will continue and the existing file format will need to be replaced with a new version supporting that feature. Potentially, a different eBook file may be required for each book and on each different reading device.


Q: What is ‘Future Proofing an eBook’? And why is it so important?

“Future proofing” means that the Publisher converts and stores eBooks in a format that allows new editions of the eBook to be generated, as required by device manufacturers, with little or no additional work.

RHYW offers an example of future proofing eBooks. RHYW marks up the book into XML in a way that enables them to create special editions for Apple, Google and anybody else who adds new features, as well as multi-format editions of printed works.

Apple iPad is an example of a device manufacturer who has changed the ePub file to incorporate more enhanced viewing features. The ePub files created for the original iPad will not run successfully on iPad2. By ‘Future Proofing’, the costs of creating new files are minimised. With new features being added to counter competition, future proofing is essential to avoid increased cost.


Q: Can eBooks be copied?

Yes. If you can read it, you can copy it – photograph the screen pages, type it out, read it into a voice typing system and so on. Buy a Kindle, buy the books you want, and send the entire device to China for re-typing. Breaking the code is always possible – but scanning the hard copy is probably easier and faster.


Q: What about Digital Rights Management?

All eBook files that we produce are fully compatible with industry standard DRM technology. Our files operate seamlessly with all retail eBook systems that use DRM.


Q: What is the best strategy to minimize unauthorized copying?

There are a number of things publishers can do.

  1. Use Digital Rights Management when possible to make it harder for people to swap files.
  2. Safety and Convenience: Make it simple to find and buy the books. Explain to readers that they can buy the books without fear of viruses or identity fraud.
  3. Price the books reasonably.
  4. Create a Better Reading Experience: Make reading your version better than reading the pirated version. Optimize the books for each device the book is read on. Add value to the eBook wherever possible. Add additional materials. Provide the best reading experience possible.


Q: How Can I get More Information?

For more information or to receive a quote, Please contact our Regional Representatives
Australia and NZ – Margaret Howse (margaret@readhowyouwant.com)
UK and Europe – Support (support@readhowyouwant.com)
US and Canada – Bradi Grebien-Samkow (Bradi@readhowyouwant.com)