Revising Leah

January 28, 2009

Which Ebook Formats Am I Missing?

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 1:29 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I believe in giving away ebook versions of my books, and I’ve got a special page set up for free downloads at my website. Right now, I have three ebook formats to choose from: PDF, PRC, and PDB. So far, I only have those three because while it seems every ebook reader on the market has its own (sometimes proprietary) format, most ebooks are able to interpret at least one of those three formats.

But just because an ebook reader can display, for example, a PDF file, that doesn’t mean that the PDF file looks good or is easy to read when it’s displayed. Unfortunately, I have no way of testing these formats on ebook devices since I do not yet own any ebook reader (I’d like one, but they’re all still so expensive), and since there are so many different readers and devices (like cell phones) capable of displaying some of these formats, there’s no way I can test each device.

My questions are these: if anyone reading this has an ebook reader or a cell phone that can display formats, is there a particular format that I am missing that I absolutely should offer on my “free ebooks” page? Are there any devices that will not display a PDF, PRC, or PDB file at all?

It’s too bad that there isn’t one format (like the mp3 format for audio) that most devices can use. So many different formats will just make it harder for the ebook market to take off.



  1. ePub is what the publishers have standardized around. ePub is what you should (ideally) offer too.

    Comment by mikecane — January 28, 2009 @ 1:50 pm

  2. Good. Thanks. ePub was not on my radar. I’ll look into that and try to offer that format.

    Comment by J.M. Reep — January 28, 2009 @ 2:07 pm

  3. Not sure what software you have access to, but the newest version of Adobe InDesign is supposed to be able to export directly to ePub

    Comment by Justin — January 28, 2009 @ 8:08 pm

  4. Yeah, apparently InDesign can do everything. Too bad Adobe’s products are so outrageously expensive. This afternoon, after poking around Google, I found a couple of free ePub converters, and I was able to to covert The Spring.

    Converting is [kind of] easy. What I’m worried about is how the converted files look on different devices. I have a variety of ebook readers installed on my desktop computer, but how a format is displayed on my computer’s monitor isn’t the same as how it’s displayed on a Kindle or an iPhone. PDF files apparently become distorted on smaller screens.

    Comment by J.M. Reep — January 28, 2009 @ 9:08 pm

  5. I’m 99% sure you’re aware of this, but Adobe Reader is offered for free (it’s the freebie version of Acrobat), so you may consider pointing that out on your website. It can show PDFs with no problems, at least on my computer, anyway.

    Comment by chibidoucet — January 28, 2009 @ 11:14 pm

  6. Chibi:
    Yes, Adobe’s PDF readers are free, but most of Adobe’s other products (InDesign, Photoshop) are obscenely expensive.

    Personally, I use the Foxit PDF reader because it plays nice with my Firefox browser.

    Comment by J.M. Reep — January 29, 2009 @ 1:22 pm

  7. I haven’t yet been able to read the PDF format on my windows-based PDA/Smart Phone. I THINK that there is a Windows PC version of Adobe Reader, but not sure if there is a way to convert from standard PDF Reader to PDA PDF.

    I stick with MobiPocket & eReader.

    Comment by NM Roth — July 28, 2009 @ 5:42 pm

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