Trying to figure out all the ebook formats can be quite daunting. Seems ebook reader creators have the same ideas as video camera makers and audio player makers – make your file format work with your player only. As a result we end up with a ton of different file formats and confusions as to what plays on what. When I first got my iPod Touch, I downloaded four ereaders because I just couldn’t decide which worked best. Here are the four, plus one extra I tried on my Blackberry:
- Stanza for PC/Mac/iPhone/iPod
- Kindle for PC/Mac/iPhone/iPod
- Mobipocket for PC/Blackberry, Palm, Windows & Symbian devices
- eReader for ALL devices
- B&N eReader for PC/Mac/iPhone/iPod/Blackberry
I quickly learned that Kindle and B&N eReader would not work for me. They are proprietary readers created solely to be used for reading their copyright protected material (DRM). I needed a reader that I could use to read my own created content. So I settled on Mobipocket reader and Stanza for iPod Touch. And I’ve been using Calibre eBook Manager and Aldiko reader for Android. Calibre works with every known ebook reader and format that I’ve seen and also works with the Stanza reader for iPhone/iPod, but Mobipocket has it’s perks too. I like both.
One of the reasons I initially chose Mobipocket reader, also a desktop application, is because the books I like to read that I buy directly from the publisher come in this format (mobi). Also the mobipocket reader lets me read pdf files as well. There is not a Mobipocket reader mobile app for the iPhone/iPod, but the Stanza reader will read all the same files. Mobipocket only has a mobile app for Blackberry, Palm, Windows and Symbian devices. When I switched to the Android phone and discovered there wasn’t a reader for .mobi files for my Droid, I started using Calibre to convert all my books to .epub files so I could read them on my Droid. Stanza also has a Stanza Desktop program for the PC that can be used to convert files, but I have not tried that.
There are lots of different file formats to deal with, but I mostly find myself dealing with pdf, mobi and epub. Here’s a list of all the others: CBZ, CBR, CBC, CHM, EPUB, FB2, HTML, LIT, LRF, MOBI, ODT, PDF, PRC**, PDB, PML, RB, RTF, TCR, TXT. Of course Amazon and Barnes & Noble have their own proprietary formats for the Kindle and Nook. This means you can only use those devices to read their content, but you can read other open content on the devices. (i.e. mobi files on the Kindle; epub on the Nook).
Check out the Features & Hardware Tables on Wikipedia to see which devices use which format and what features you get with each format. You’ll see why Mobipocket (mobi) is the best even if you won’t be able to read mobi files on the iPad or Nook.
eBook Creation Tools
Calibre is a free application for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux that manages your library and integrates with Stanza iPhone over your local wireless network. It can be downloaded for free from http://calibre-ebook.com. You can learn how to share books with Stanza iPhone over your local WiFi network on Windows, Mac, or Linux in a discussion of how to use Calibre. You can also learn how to share books to your other ereaders and devices.
Mobipocket Creator is a free application for Windows to create personal content to take along with you, distribute or sell ebooks to others, or design more advanced content and applications, the Mobipocket Creator products enable to easily create ebooks from a variety of sources to be viewed on all the PDA and smartphone platforms where Mobipocket Reader is supported.
- Mobipocket Creator 4.2 Home Edition -FREE- enables you to create your ebooks, photo albums, personal databases and much more with a simple and intuitive user interface and expandable templates.
- Mobipocket Creator 4.2 Publisher Edition -FREE- allows publishers to create their ebooks with an easy-to-use content authoring tool, and target customers who read on their PDA, smartphone or PC. This software also includes Adobe PDF, Microsoft Word & Text File Import wizards.
Creating your own content to read on mobile devices is as simple as creating a Word file and converting it. With Mobipocket you can simply Import Word and Text documents or Import Adobe® PDF files into your publication with the powerful PDF to HTML built-in converter. Calibre does not directly convert .doc files from Microsoft Word. However, in Word, you can save the document as HTML and then convert the resulting HTML file with calibre. When saving as HTML, be sure to use the “Save as Web Page, Filtered” option as this will produce clean HTML that will convert well. There is a Word macro package that can automate the conversion of Word documents using calibre. It also makes generating the Table of Contents much simpler. It is called BookCreator and is available for free here.