eBooks have gained popularity in recent years, with different files formats like ePUB and PDF. It’s mainly the flexibility and portability that eBooks offer. The file formats enable interactivity and allow publishers to customize eBooks. In order to develop and deliver interactive and compelling eBooks, authors and publishers use different eBook file formats, and the most popular one among them is the ePUB format.
Did you know that PDF is the world’s oldest eBook format? So, how is it that ePUB became more popular than PDF? let’s compare ePub vs PDF
PDF is basically paper in an electronic form. It’s static. It’s fixed. It’s unchangeable. Just like you cannot customize a printed physical book, you can’t really customize a PDF file. It’s not very flexible. But it’s easy to use, distribute and share. Maybe that’s why it is still one of the most circulated digital document formats in the world. But just like every old thing gives way to something new, PDF files made way for something much more interesting.
And that’s ePUB format. After more than a decade since PDF originated, ePUB was developed by the International Digital Publishing Forum, and it became the standard format for digital publication. This is the most preferred type of file format for eBooks. But you cannot ignore the fact that in spite of all the technological advancements, PDF is still thriving. People across the world are still using PDFs.
Unfortunately, PDF does not meet the requirements of an eBook publisher. Digital publishers prefer ePUB over PDF files. So, that means ePUBs must have some advantages over PDFs.
An ePUB is a zip file consisting of style sheets, XHTML files, and JPG for images. If you are not very experienced in coding languages, you could use one of the many software available online to create an ePUB file. You would find a lot of paid and open source software for ePUB conversions. You only have to upload the manuscript and convert it into an ePUB file. That’s it.
In order to create a PDF file, you require Adobe Acrobat’s PDF creator. If not this, then there are many other PDF converters to convert your existing files into PDFs.
ePUB files are easier to edit. You just have to make changes in the HTML codes and you can make whatever modifications you need. But with PDF, you need to have an Adobe subscription or maybe subscribe to some other software in order to edit and make changes to the content and layout.
The main feature that differentiates ePUB from a PDF file is its ability to reflow its content. When you open a PDF document on a small screen device, you would have to zoom, pan and pinch in order to read the document. That doesn’t sound like a comfortable reading experience, does it? The users need something which they can sit back, relax and read, without having to fidget with the screen very often.
On the other hand, an ePUB document fits smoothly around the screen. The page breaks depend on the size of the screen. This is because of its reflowable nature. The content on the page rearranges and realigns itself such that the user can have a good reading experience. The text arranges itself automatically according to the screen size of the user’s reading device.
A PDF document is a digital paper, plain and simple. Whereas an ePUB file is like a website. And websites are usually responsive in design. You can’t compare a paper to a website.
And if you do not want to present your eBook in a reflowable format, ePUB also gives you the option to create fixed layout eBooks. A fixed ePUB format, just like a PDF, does not change its alignment as per the screen sizes. But, since it is in ePUB format, it allows you to add certain additional features which a PDF does not allow. We’ll look at some of those features in the upcoming points.
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eBooks are popular because they are not like your regular books. Apart from text content, they also contain audio files, videos and rich images. This sets them apart from PDFs. ePUB allows you to add these multimedia elements to the eBook in order to make them interactive.
PDF is basically a static document with text and images. But it is trying to become more engaging and interesting by including videos and such multimedia files in it. The only trouble is that videos on a PDF file relies on software compatibility. You need to open the file in a certain PDF reader, only then can you watch the video in action. So, the user will have to first download a software which will allow the PDF to play a video. Whereas ePUB does not require any additional software for support.
ePUB is designed keeping in mind the eBook readers. And hence, they are more suited for eReaders. XML and XHTML make ePUBs accessible and compatible with most of the software tools. You can read an ePUB document on a computer, smartphone, tablet and any eReader (except Kindle). Many eReaders such as Apple’s iBooks, Barnes & Noble’s Nook and many others support ePUB files. And for this reason, it is popular and preferred by most digital publishers. Since ePUB files are supported by majority of the eBook readers, it gives the authors and publishers a chance to expand their reader base.
PDF files can be read on almost all devices, but you cannot read them on all eReaders. They are not designed to be displayed on an eBook reader. They are designed for big screens like a desktop computer or a laptop. Though you can view them on phones and tablets, a bigger screen helps view the PDF content comfortably, without having to pinch and zoom a lot.
eBooks with ePUB format are already available in stores. All major eBook retail sites and distributors such as Amazon, Apple, Nook, Kobo etc. accept ePUB files. As it is a widely accepted format and is supported by most of the eReaders, eBooks with ePUB files can be easily bought and sold online.
But these sites do not accept PDFs. If you have a PDF file, you would first have to get it converted to ePUB or any acceptable eBook formats and then approach the online eBook stores. There are quite a lot of software packages available to do the job if you want to create a sellable eBook.
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