What is an eBook?
Ebook is short for “electronic book”. An eBook is simply a book that has been formatted so that it can be read on a screen. Until recently, eBooks were typically limited to being read on computer screens and the larger reading devices. Now, more than ever before, eBooks are being developed exclusively for the screen, and not for print. But now, the term eBook is being used as a generic term for any electronic book, whether it is in the PDF format or EPUB format. The term “eBook” will remain with us even after the EPUB format becomes the standard for the publishing industry.
Open Format Vs. Closed Format
You must understand the difference between “open format” and “closed format”. “Open format” means that a wide range of reading devices can display the publication. Most reading devices use an open format – such as the eReading device from Barnes & Noble. “Closed format” means that the publication can only be read on the device that it was downloaded onto. Amazon’s Kindle uses a closed format, which means that publications purchased for the Kindle cannot be read on any device other than the Kindle.
What is PDF?
PDF is short for “portable document format”. It is a computer program that formats a document to make it easier for computers to share the documents while still retaining the original formatting (fonts, text, images, etc.) – almost like a photocopy of the original document. PDF is the default format for static documents. The PDF document is indifferent to the device that it is displayed on or the operating system (Apple/Microsoft) that is used. It is the standard way for people (businesses, colleagues, clients, students, etc.) to share electronic documents – and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Until recently, exporting a publication to PDF was the traditional way to create eBooks. The problem with eBooks created with PDF is that they can be difficult to read on a small screen, such as on a cell phone, because the text and images don’t flow gracefully enough to be read on a small screen.
What is EPUB?
An EPUB is short for “electronic publication format”. It is a computer program that formats a document to make it easier for computers and small-screen devices to display readable text – it makes the text adapt to every screen size. It can do this because it is similar to a web page; and an eBook reader is similar to a web browser. EPUB is the default format for re-flowable documents. The EPUB format is quickly replacing PDF as the standard for eBooks. PDF will remain the standard for document sharing for MS Word and Excel documents, for example. EPUB is becoming the publishing industry standard because it was designed to make a book’s content “reflowable” irrespective of the size of the screen of the eBook reader, portable/mobile device, or computer screen. The most important point is that EPUB is becoming the standard “open format” for the publishing industry and quickly becoming the standard for most reading devices.
What Does This Mean For a Self-Publisher?
As a small publisher it is essential that you prepare all of your publications for print and screen. You will need to be very familiar with both PDF and the EPUB format. Fortunately, there is only a very small learning curve to become familiar with each format. With a little effort it shouldn’t be too hard to learn about, understand, and use both formats. But learn them you must, because PDF is essential to running your publishing business, and EPUB is becoming the standard format for eBooks within the publishing industry.
Joseph C. Kunz, Jr. is an author, publisher, educator, business manager, and entrepreneur. Life-long love affair with books and reading. Very excited about being part of the new media movement. Known for casual, easy-to-read writing style and ability to explain complex topics in an understandable way. “If you are serious about your work you should self-publish. Retain creative control. Retain the profits. Enjoy the satisfaction and status that comes with being published.” Visit Kunz’s blog at http://KunzOnPublishing.com/ an insider’s guide to becoming a financially successful and happy self-publisher.