Comparison of e-book formats
The following is a comparison of e-book formats used to create and publish e-books.
A writer or publisher has many options when it comes to choosing a format for publication. While the average end-user might arguably simply want to read books, every format has its proponents. The myriad e-book formats are sometimes collectively referred to as the "Tower of eBabel". Nonetheless, some eBook formats are demonstrably more popular, and more widely supported than others. The EPUB format is the most widely supported vendor-independent XML-based (as opposed to PDF) e-book format; that is, it is supported by the largest number of e-Readers. The popularity of Amazon.com's Kindle devices in America has led also to the prominence of KF8 and AZW formats; Kindle does not support EPUB.
The file size for texts without images depends on the file format, but is always relatively small compared with a richly illustrated text.
Format descriptions 
Formats available include, but are by no means limited to:
Archos Diffusion 
The AEH format is an XML-based proprietary format developed by the French firm Archos Diffusion. AEH files use a proprietary DRM and encryption method and are readable only in the Archos Player. It supports various input formats for text, audio or video, such as PDF, WMA, MP3, WMV, and allows multiple interactive functions such as bookmarking, advanced plain-text searching, dynamic text highlighting, etc.
Broadband eBooks (BBeB) 
|Published as:||.lrf; .lrx|
The digital book format originally used by Sony Corporation. It is a proprietary format, but some reader software for general-purpose computers, particularly under Linux (for example, calibre's internal viewer), have the capability to read it. The LRX file extension represents a DRM encrypted eBook. More recently, Sony has converted its books from BBeB to EPUB and is now issuing new titles in EPUB.
Comic Book Archive file 
|Published as:||.cbr (RAR); .cbz (ZIP); .cb7 (7z); .cbt (TAR); .cba (ACE)|
A Comic Book Archive file or ComicBook Reader File consists of a series of image files, typically PNG (lossless compression) or JPEG (lossy compression) files, stored as a single archive file, for the purpose of sequential viewing of images, especially comic books. The idea was made popular by the CDisplay image viewer; since then, many viewers for different platforms have been created. Comic Book Archive files are not a distinct file format; only the file name extension differs from a standard file of the given archive type. Some applications support additional tag information (like artists or story information) in the form of embedded XML files in the archive, or use of the Zip comment function.
Compiled HTML 
|Format:||Microsoft Compiled HTML Help|
CHM format is a proprietary format based on HTML. Multiple pages and embedded graphics are distributed along with proprietary metadata as a single compressed file. In contrast, in HTML, a site consists of multiple HTML files and associated image files in standardized formats.
DAISY - ANSI/NISO Z39.86 
The Digital Accessible Information SYstem (DAISY) is an XML-based open standard maintained by the DAISY Consortium for people with print disabilities. DAISY has wide international support with features for multimedia, navigation and synchronization. A subset of the DAISY format has been adopted by law in the United States as the National Instructional Material Accessibility Standard (NIMAS), and K-12 textbooks and instructional materials are now required to be provided to students with disabilities.
DAISY is already aligned with the EPUB open standard, and is expected to fully converge with its forthcoming EPUB3 revision.
DjVu is a format specialized for storing scanned documents. It includes advanced compressors optimized for low-color images, such as text documents. Individual files may contain one or more pages. DjVu files cannot be re-flowed.
The contained page images are divided in separate layers (such as multi-color, low-resolution, background layer using lossy compression, and few-colors, high-resolution, tightly compressed foreground layer), each compressed in the best available method. The format is designed to decompress very quickly, even faster than vector-based formats.
The advantage of DjVu is that it is possible to take a high-resolution scan (300-400 DPI), good enough for both on-screen reading and printing, and store it very efficiently. Several dozens of 300 DPI black-and-white scans can be stored in less than a megabyte.
- Open Publication Structure (OPS) 2.0, which describes the content markup (either XHTML or Daisy DTBook)
- Open Packaging Format (OPF) 2.0, which describes the structure of an .epub in XML
- OEBPS Container Format (OCF) 1.0, which bundles files together (as a renamed ZIP file)
The EPUB format has gained some popularity as a vendor-independent XML-based e-book format. The format can be read by the Kobo eReader, Blackberry Playbook, Apple's iBooks app running on iOS devices such as the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, Barnes and Noble Nook, Sony Reader, BeBook, Bookeen Cybook Gen3 (with firmware v. 2 and up), COOL-ER, Adobe Digital Editions, Lexcycle Stanza, BookGlutton, AZARDI, FBReader, Aldiko, Moon+ Reader and WordPlayer on Android, the Mozilla Firefox add-on EPUBReader, and Okular. Several other desktop reader software programs are currently implementing support for the format, such as dotReader, Mobipocket, uBook.
Adobe Digital Editions uses .epub format for its e-books, with DRM protection provided through their proprietary ADEPT mechanism. The recently developed ADEPT framework and scripts have been reverse-engineered to circumvent this DRM system.
- Formerly Palm Digital Media/Peanut Press
eReader is a freeware program for viewing Palm Digital Media electronic books which use the pdb format used by many Palm applications. Versions are available for iPhone, PalmOS (not webOS), Android, Symbian, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile Pocket PC/Smartphone, desktop Windows, and Macintosh. The reader shows text one page at a time, as paper books do. eReader supports embedded hyperlinks and images. Additionally, the Stanza application for the iPhone and iPod Touch can read both encrypted and unencrypted eReader files.
The program supports features like bookmarks and footnotes, enabling the user to mark any page with a bookmark, and any part of the text with a footnote-like commentary. Footnotes can later be exported as a Memo document.
On July 20, 2009, Barnes & Noble made an announcement implying that eReader would be the company's preferred format to deliver e-books. Exactly three months later, in a press release by Adobe, it was revealed Barnes & Noble would be joining forces with the software company to standardize the open EPUB and PDF eBook formats. Barnes & Noble e-books are now sold mostly in EPUB format.
FictionBook (Fb2) 
The FictionBook format does not specify the appearance of a document; instead, it describes its structure and semantics. All the ebook metadata, such as the author name, title, and publisher, is also present in the ebook file. Hence the format is convenient for automatic processing, indexing, and ebook collection management. This also is convenient to store books in it for later automatic conversion into other formats.
Founder Electronics 
|Published as:||.xeb; .ceb|
APABI is a format devised by Founder Electronics. It is a popular format for Chinese e-books. It can be read using the Apabi Reader software, and produced using Apabi Publisher. Both .xeb and .ceb files are encoded binary files. The Iliad e-book device includes an Apabi 'viewer'.
Hypertext Markup Language 
|Published as:||.htm; .html|
HTML adds specially marked meta-elements to otherwise plain text encoded using character sets like ASCII or UTF-8. As such, suitably formatted files can be, and sometimes are, generated by hand using a plain text editor or programmer's editor. Many HTML generator applications exist to ease this process and often require less intricate knowledge of the format details involved.
HTML on its own is not a particularly efficient format to store information in, requiring more storage space for a given work than many other formats. However, several e-Book formats including the Amazon Kindle, Open eBook, Compiled HTML, Mobipocket and EPUB store each book chapter in HTML format, then use ZIP compression to compress the HTML data, images, metadata and style sheets into a single, significantly smaller, file.
HTML files encompass a wide range of standards and displaying HTML files correctly can be complicated. Additionally many of the features supported, such as forms, are not relevant to e-books.
iBook (Apple) 
The .ibooks format is created with the free iBooks Author ebook layout software from Apple Inc.. This proprietary format is based on the EPUB standard, with some differences in the CSS tags used in an ibooks format file, thus making it incompatible with the EPUB open standard. The End-User Licensing Agreement (EULA) that comes with iBooks Author states that "If you want to charge a fee for a work that includes files in the .ibooks format generated using iBooks Author, you may only sell or distribute such work through Apple". The "through Apple" will typically be in the Apple iBooks store. The EULA further states that "This restriction does not apply to the content of such works when distributed in a form that does not include files in the .ibooks format." Therefore, Apple has not included distribution restrictions in the iBooks Author EULA for ibooks format ebooks created in iBooks Author that are made available for free, and it does not prevent authors from repurposing the content in other ebook formats to be sold outside of the iBookstore. This software currently supports import and export functionally for three formats. ibook, Plain text and Adobe PDF. It does not support importing or exporting in EPUB format.
IEC 62448 
IEC 62448 is an international standard created by International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), Technical Committee 100, Technical Area 10 (Multimedia e-publishing and e-book).
The current version of IEC 62448 is an umbrella standard that contains as appendices two concrete formats, XMDF of Sharp and BBeB of Sony. However, BBeB has been discontinued by Sony and the version of XMDF that is in the specification is out of date. The IEC TA10 group is discussing the next steps, and has invited the IDPF organization which has standardized EPUB to be a liaison. It is possible that the current version of EPUB and/or the forthcoming EPUB3 revision may be added to IEC 62448. Meanwhile a number of Japanese companies have proposed that IEC standardize a proposed new Japanese-centric file format that is expected to unify DotBook of Voyager Japan and XMDF of Sharp. This new format has not been publicly disclosed as of November, 2010 but it is supposed to cover basic representations for the Japanese language. Technically speaking, this revision is supposed to provide a Japanese minimum set, a Japanese extension set, and a stylesheet language. These issues were discussed in the TC100 meeting held in October 2010 but no decisions were taken besides offering the liaison status to IDPF.
KF8 (Amazon Kindle) 
|Published as:||.azw; .kf8|
With the release of the Kindle Fire reader in late 2011, Amazon.com also released Kindle Format 8, their new file format. The .kf8 file format supports a subset of HTML5 and CSS3 features, with some additional nonstandard features; the new data is stored within a container which can also be used to store a MOBI content document (allowing limited backwards compatibility).
Older Kindle eBook readers use the proprietary format, AZW. It is based on the Mobipocket standard, with a slightly different serial number scheme (it uses an asterisk instead of a dollar sign) and its own DRM formatting. Because the eBooks bought on the Kindle are delivered over its wireless system called Whispernet, the user does not see the AZW files during the download process. The Kindle format is now available on a variety of platforms, such as through the Kindle app for the iPad.
Microsoft LIT 
DRM-protected LIT files are only readable in the proprietary Microsoft Reader program, as the .LIT format, otherwise similar to Microsoft's CHM format, includes Digital Rights Management features. Other third party readers, such as Lexcycle Stanza, can read unprotected LIT files.
The Microsoft Reader uses patented ClearType display technology. In Reader navigation works with a keyboard, mouse, stylus, or through electronic bookmarks. The Catalog Library records reader books in a personalized "home page", and books are displayed with ClearType to improve readability. A user can add annotations and notes to any page, create large-print e-books with a single command, or create free-form drawings on the reader pages. A built-in dictionary allows the user to look up words.
Microsoft announced that Microsoft Reader has been discontinued from August 30, 2012.
|Published as:||.prc; .mobi|
The Mobipocket Reader has a home page library. Readers can add blank pages in any part of a book and add free-hand drawings. Annotations — highlights, bookmarks, corrections, notes, and drawings — can be applied, organized, and recalled from a single location. Images are converted to GIF format and have a maximum size of 64K, sufficient for mobile phones with small screens, but rather restrictive for newer gadgets. Mobipocket Reader has electronic bookmarks, and a built-in dictionary.
The reader has a full screen mode for reading and support for many PDAs, Communicators, and Smartphones. Mobipocket products support most Windows, Symbian, BlackBerry and Palm operating systems, but not the Android platform. Using WINE, the reader works under Linux or Mac OS X. Third-party applications like Okular and FBReader can also be used under Linux or Mac OS X, but they work only with unencrypted files.
Multimedia eBooks 
|Published as:||.exe or .html|
A multimedia ebook is media and book content that utilizes a combination of different book content formats. The term can be used as a noun (a medium with multiple content formats) or as an adjective describing a medium as having multiple content formats.
The 'multimedia ebook' term is used in contrast to media which only utilize traditional forms of printed or text books. Multimedia ebooks include a combination of text, audio, images, video, and/or interactive content formats. Much like how a traditional book can contain images to help the text tell a story, a multimedia ebook can contain other elements not formerly possible to help tell the story.
Newton eBook 
Commonly known as an Apple Newton book; a single Newton package file can contain multiple books (for example, the three books of a trilogy might be packaged together). All systems running the Newton operating system (the most common include the Newton MessagePads, eMates, Siemens Secretary Stations, Motorola Marcos, Digital Ocean Seahorses and Tarpons) have built-in support for viewing Newton books. The Newton package format was released to the public by Newton, Inc. prior to that company's absorption into Apple Computer. The format is thus arguably open and various people have written readers for it (writing a Newton book converter has even been assigned as a university-level class project).
Newton books have no support for DRM or encryption. They do support internal links, potentially multiple tables of contents and indexes, embedded gray scale images, and even some scripting capability (for example, it's possible to make a book in which the reader can influence the outcome). Newton books utilize Unicode and are thus available in numerous languages. An individual Newton book may actually contain multiple views representing the same content in different ways (such as for different screen resolutions).
Open Electronic Package 
Portable Document Format 
|Format:||Adobe Portable Document Format|
A file format created by Adobe Systems, initially to provide a standard form for storing printable documents containing a set of page images. The format derives from PostScript, but without language features like loops, and with added support for features like compression, passwords and DRM. Because PDF documents can easily be viewed and printed by users on a variety of computer platforms, they are very common on the World Wide Web. The specification of the format is available without charge from Adobe.
Because the format is designed to reproduce page images, the text traditionally could not be re-flowed to fit the screen width or size. As a result, PDF files designed for printing on standard paper sizes were less easily viewed on screens with limited size or resolution, such as those found on mobile phones and e-book readers. Adobe has addressed this drawback by adding a re-flow facility to its Acrobat Reader software.
Many products support creating and reading PDF files, such as Adobe Acrobat, PDFCreator, OpenOffice.org, iText, ConTeXt and FOP, and several programming libraries. Third party viewers such as xpdf are also available. Mac OS X has built-in PDF support, both for creation as part of the printing system and for display using the built-in Preview application.
PDF files are supported by almost all modern e-book readers, tablets and smartphones. However, PDF re-flow being newer is not supported by all devices that can open PDF files. Android's Repligo PDF Reader and EzPDF stand out as products supporting PDF and proper re-flow technologies. Reflow is usually found under the "view" options, and is usually called "word-wrap". EzPDF also has an IOS version suitable for Apple devices.
Plain text files 
E-books in plain text exist. The size in bytes is simply the number of characters, including spaces, and with a new line counting for 1 or 2. For example, the Bible, which is approximately 800,000 words, is about 4 MB. The ASCII standard allows ASCII-only text files to be interchanged and readable on Unix, Macintosh, Microsoft Windows, DOS, and other systems. These differ in their preferred line ending convention and their interpretation of values outside the ASCII range (their character encoding). Conversion of files from one to another line-ending convention is easily possible with free software on most computers.
Plucker is an Open Source free mobile and desktop e-book reader application with its own associated file format and software to automatically generate Plucker files from text, PDF, HTML, or other document format files, web sites or RSS feeds. The format is public and well-documented. Free readers are available for all kinds of desktop computers and many PDAs.
PostScript is a page description language used in the electronic and desktop publishing areas for defining the contents and layout of a printed page, which can be used by a rendering program to assemble and create the actual output bitmap. Many office printers directly support interpreting PostScript and printing the result. As a result, the format also sees wide use in the Unix world.
The digital book format used by a popular digital library company 超星数字图书馆 in China. It is a proprietary raster image compression and binding format, with reading time OCR plug-in modules. The company scanned a huge number of Chinese books in the China National Library and this becomes the major stock of their service. The detailed format is not published. There are also some other commercial e-book formats used in Chinese digital libraries.
|Published as:||.tebr|
TEBR file format is designed with mobile devices, PDAs, and phones in mind, although a Windows Desktop version is also available. The first reader to support this format is the Tiny eBook Reader. It allows compression and encryption, but does not allow for conversion to other formats.
Text Encoding Initiative 
|Published as:||.xml|
|Published as:||.tr2; .tr3|
The TomeRaider e-book format is a proprietary format. There are versions of TomeRaider for Windows, Windows Mobile (aka Pocket PC), Palm, Symbian and iPhone. Several Wikipedias are available as TomeRaider files with all articles unabridged, some even with nearly all images. Capabilities of the TomeRaider3 e-book reader vary considerably per platform: the Windows and Windows Mobile editions support full HTML and CSS. The Palm edition supports limited HTML (e.g., no tables, no fonts), and CSS support is missing. For Symbian there is only the older TomeRaider2 format, which does not render images or offer category search facilities. Despite these differences any TomeRaider e-book can be browsed on all supported platforms. The Tomeraider website claims to have over 4000 e-books available, including free versions of the Internet Movie Database and Wikipedia.
Comparison tables 
|Format||Filename extension||DRM support||Image support||Table support||Sound support||Interactivity support||Word wrap support||Open standard||Embedded annotation support||Book- marking||Video support|
|EPUB (IDPF)||.epub||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes/No[f 1]||Yes/No[f 1]||Yes[f 2]|
|HTML||.html||No||Yes||Yes||Yes[f 4]||No||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes[f 5]|
|Kindle||.azw||Yes||Yes||Yes[f 6]||Yes[f 7]||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes[f 8]|
|Portable Document Format||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes[f 9]||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes[f 10]|
|Tome Raider||.tr2, .tr3||Yes||Yes||?||No||No||Yes||No||?||?||?|
- Depends on the eReader application
- With ePub 3
- Table support added in FictionBook V2.1. Not supported in V2.0
- With HTML 5
- With HTML 5
- Supported in all except 1st Generation Kindle. (Support level is as it is in mobipocket)
- Supported only in kindle for iPhone, iPod, iPad.
- Supported only in kindle for iPhone, iPod, iPad.
- Though not all readers implement support
- With Flash Embeded
Supporting platforms 
|Reader||Plain text||ePub||HTML||Mobi- Pocket||Fiction- Book (Fb2)||DjVu||Broadband eBook (BBeB)[h 1]||eReader[h 1]||Kindle[h 1]||WOLF[h 1]||Tome Raider[h 1]||Open eBook[h 2]||Comic Book|
|Amazon Kindle 1||Yes||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||?|
|Amazon Kindle 2, DX||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||?|
|Amazon Kindle 3||Yes||Yes||No[h 3]||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||?|
|Amazon Kindle Fire||Yes||Yes||Yes[h 4]||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||?|
|Android Devices||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes[h 5]||Yes||Yes[h 5]||No||Yes[h 5]||Yes||No||Yes[h 5]||Yes[h 5]||?|
|Apple iOS Devices||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes[h 5]||Yes[h 5]||Yes[h 5]||No||Yes[h 5]||Yes[h 5]||No||Yes[h 5]||Yes[h 5]||?|
|Barnes & Noble Nook||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||?|
|Barnes & Noble Nook Color||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||?|
|Bookeen Cybook Gen3, Opus||Yes||Yes||Yes[h 6]||Yes||Yes[h 6]||Yes[h 7]||No||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||?|
|Gnu/Linux Operating System||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes[h 8]||Yes||?||?||?||?||?||?||?|
|Hanlin e-Reader V3||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||?|
|Iriver Story||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes[h 5]||Yes[h 5]||No||No||No||No||No||No||?|
|OLPC XO, Sugar||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||No||?|
|Onyx Boox 60||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||No||?|
|Mac OS X||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||?||Yes||Yes||?||?||Yes||?|
|Windows||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes[h 9]||Yes||?||Yes||Yes[h 10]||?||?||Yes||?|
|Pocketbook 301 Plus, 302, 360°||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||No||?|
|Windows Phone 7||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||?|
- Proprietary format
- Predecessor of ePUB
- Yes, if the Duokan alternate Kindle OS (third-party software add-on) is used.
- By adding epub capable apps, such as Aldiko
- Requires latest firmware
- Versions support either ePUB or MobiPocket
- Only ePUB version and with FW 2.0+
- KDE's Okular supports fb2
- ICE Book Reader for Windows supports fb2
- DRM-protected publications are supported as of Kindle for PC v1.3.0
See also 
- Comparison of e-book readers
- Comparison of Android e-book reader software - includes software e-book readers for Android devices
- Comparison of iOS e-book reader software – includes software e-book readers for iOS devices
- General information
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- FictionBook description
- "Kindle Format 8 Overview". Amazon.com. 2012.
- "The New Kindle Format KF8". Musings and Marvels:Learning the ins and outs of the publishing industry. 2012-03-06. Retrieved 2012-03-16.
- "HTML5 tags supported by KF8". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2012-03-16.
- King James Bible at Project Gutenberg.
- ebookwise-1150 ebook reader device
- ebook reader articles at Mobile Read Wiki
- Daisy 3: A Standard for Accessible Multimedia Books
- Details about the most popular eBook formats
- An E-Book Buyer's Guide to Privacy
- E Book Readers Compared