How To Choose the Right eBook Format

By Roxanne Weber
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Jumping into the eBook store foray may seem very daunting for those new to digital book formats, but the waters don’t have to be overwhelming; there are a few simple things to consider before purchasing an eBook format that will soon have any novice user up and running quickly.

Of course the very first consideration to make when looking at eBook formats is the device that will be used for reading! Each device will have formats that work better than others so the first thing to do is check which formats are recommended for the device that will be used to read mobile eBooks.

Once formats that work with the device to be used have been determined then choosing the right format becomes much simpler. Today there are four fairly popular formats and several other formats that will work with various devices. But first, the popular eBook formats:

  1. Mobipocket. Mobipocket is likely the most versatile format available with availability on Palm devices, Picket PCs, Windows mobile technologies, Blackberry and other smartphones, iLiad as well as Windows PCs. Features of this format include turning pages with a stylus or finger, bookmarks, ability to alter font size or color, and other customizable features.
  2. Palm. The Palm format is another popular and versatile option. Palm eBook formats can be read on Palm mobile devices, Windows Mobile & PC, Pocket PC, Mac, and iPhone and iPod Touch. Features include the ability to utilize various fonts and sizes as well as navigating easily through the eBook, bookmarks and jumping from location to location easily.
  3. Microsoft Reader. This format provides reading for Windows PCs and Windows Mobile devices. While the device options are more limited than other formats, the Reader’s Clear Type technology makes for fantastic reading; words on the screen look just like they would in print! Reader also allows users to personalize their books with drawings, highlights, font sizing and personal notes.
  4. ePub. The ePub format (short for electronic publication) has fast become a reader favorite. This free, open source standard is designed for optimal reading based on individual display device. Other features include inline raster and vector images, word wrap and text resizing, and CSS styling, to name a few.

Some additional formats provide for an all-around cross-functional format that have had some success as well. Some of these include:

  • HTML, providing customizable and printable formats that can be read with any web browser. For use on Windows, Macintosh, Linux, Palm and Pocket PCs.
  • Instant eBook. This format requires no special reader software (uses Internet Explorer) and is easy to use.
  • Microsoft Word is an environment many computer users are familiar with hence it’s usability with many applications including eBooks. This format, in addition to be familiar, allows for customizability and can be printed to hard copy easily.
  • Plain Text. This is the most flexible format available; it can be read with any word processor, is printable and can be used with Windows, Macintosh, Linux, Palm and Pocket PC operating systems.

In addition to these popular formats there are many other proprietary as well as cross-functional alternatives to choose from. The best way to decide which format to choose, however, is first to find out what formats the reader device recommends. From there users can ask friends and network acquaintances about the formats that work best in their own experience. This, coupled with a user’s own trial-and-error, will allow the user to find the format that works best. Once the best format is determined take a look at the eBook Store matrix lineup to find the best store to purchase all your reading needs!

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