Tuesday, December 17, 2013

E-book Formats

E-books exist in various electronic formats and each format requires a special kind of software to enable the human reader to view the pages. The software in question is simply referred to an ‘ebook reader’. The most popular kind of e-book reader is the Adobe Acrobat Reader that opens books saved in Adobe PDF (Portable Document Format). Another common e-book reader is the Microsoft Reader. E-book readers are distributed over the Internet free of charge. They can be downloaded from their makers’ official sites, eg. www.microsoft.com/reader and www.adobe.com/products/acrobat, or from e-book sellers such as www.ebookmall.com and www.enovel.com.

Adobe PDF is the de facto standard for electronically published books and it best illustrates the evolution of the printed word. A PDF book looks like a conventional book except that it is not tangible and its Acrobat Reader comes with all the electronic wonders you except from e-book readers. You can zoom to a particular page, insert electronic bookmarks, consult a digital Thesaurus, adjust the font size, click on live hyperlinks, turn the leaves by either scrolling or paging and so on. PDF books can also be read on most computer operating systems, including Macintosh, Linux and Unix.

Digital books are written using word processors such a Microsoft Word and then converted into e-book format using software generally referred to as e-book compilers. The compilers, such as Adobe Acrobat for Windows are NOT given away free. Other E-book creators include Activ Ebook Compiler, E-Book Edit Pro, E-Book Generator, Pro Compiler and Calibre.

EPub - This is currently the best format and is fast becoming the standard for the industry. To view EPub files on a computer, use Adobe Digital Editions, which is free from Adobe.com.
Other players for these files include: Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Reader, Amazon Kindle (with conversion), the Firefox browser (with an add-on), and various free programs. One advantage of the EPub format is the option for an author or seller to use Digital Rights Management so that the person you send the file to can't just attach the file to a bunch of e-mails and make your book available to other people by standard e-mail. E-books published on the Amazon Kindle also have the option of Digital Rights Management. What I liked most about the main EPub reader – Calibre E-Book Management software – is that if you close it somewhere in the middle of perusing an e-book, the next time you open that ebook, the program automatically scrolls to the last page you were on - how clever! The fonts on EPub files are also very clear – reminiscent of Microsoft ClearType™ technology.

Adobe Acrobat Files - For these files, use Adobe Reader, which is free from Adobe.com. This format is the grand daddy of e-books, and is widely used for other applications. (Technically, its beauty has always been that it uses print formats, not word processor formats, so it has been a leader in cross-platform uses - meaning that it can be used with Mac, Windows and many other Operating Systems.) Most browsers and many other programs also permit you to view Acrobat files.