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Thread: Must you use epub for ibooks and mobi for kindle

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin ajenery's Avatar
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    Question Must you use epub for ibooks and mobi for kindle

    Been doing some research into ebooks using SE's and have gathered that EPUB is the format for apple ibooks and that MOBI is the one for amazon kindle, but I've also discovered that both apple and amazon devices will open/read PDFs. So, is it a must to convert PDF to EPUB/MOBI? Thanks if anyone can advise here.

  2. #2
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    You want your Kindle book to have reflowable text as more devices will accept it, in which case it must be MOBI. But you can upload it as html or .doc.
    Emily Veinglory

  3. #3
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin ajenery's Avatar
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    Okay, many thanks for your help Thing is, I use openoffice writer to create original works which only allows you to export to pdf by default (unless you download OO extensions which I don't really want to do) and the resulting pdfs look exactly how I want them to look, so I want my ebooks to have the same formatting as the pdfs. So if both iBooks and amazon compatible devices can open/read pdfs (which they can), why can't one just stick with pdfs?

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    Herder of Hamsters AW Admin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ajenery View Post
    Okay, many thanks for your help Thing is, I use openoffice writer to create original works which only allows you to export to pdf by default (unless you download OO extensions which I don't really want to do) and the resulting pdfs look exactly how I want them to look, so I want my ebooks to have the same formatting as the pdfs. So if both iBooks and amazon compatible devices can open/read pdfs (which they can), why can't one just stick with pdfs?
    Because .PDFs aren't resized to fit the various screens. So someone like me, who's visually disabled, can't make the text larger.

    Also: .PDFs convert poorly to ebook file formats because most people don't know what they're doing when they typeset. They use tabs for paragraph indents. They have extra returns. They don't know how to set em-dashes and quotation marks. They don't format chapter openings correctly. They don't set ellipses correctly. They don't know about the invisible characters set by word processors.

    Seriously, use .doc to autoconvert if you must autoconvert.

    And because people using an iPad or Kindle to buy your book via the Apple's store or Amazon won't be able to buy it directly. They'll have to use a computer and then transfer the file.

  5. #5
    All the nopes. lizmonster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ajenery View Post
    Okay, many thanks for your help Thing is, I use openoffice writer to create original works which only allows you to export to pdf by default (unless you download OO extensions which I don't really want to do) and the resulting pdfs look exactly how I want them to look, so I want my ebooks to have the same formatting as the pdfs. So if both iBooks and amazon compatible devices can open/read pdfs (which they can), why can't one just stick with pdfs?
    You can't really think of ebooks as something with a fixed layout. The whole point of them is to have scalable (and changeable) fonts and text flow. ePub and mobi both handle this differently.

    Personally, I hate reading pdfs on an ereader, and I avoid it whenever possible.

    As for the "required" formats for iBooks and Amazon - having not read their TOS for authors, I can't say, but I suspect you're stuck there. I know there are services (like Smashwords) that can help you with the conversions; try the self-pub forum for a definitive list.
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    practical experience, FTW benbenberi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ajenery View Post
    the resulting pdfs look exactly how I want them to look, so I want my ebooks to have the same formatting as the pdfs. So if both iBooks and amazon compatible devices can open/read pdfs (which they can), why can't one just stick with pdfs?
    Because people read their iBooks and Kindle content on screens of many different sizes, in a great variety of environments and constraints, and providing a pdf gives you absolutely no idea what the file will look like on their screens or how readable it will be for your readers. (Typically, a pdf will look like shit, and probably like shit of an entirely inappropriate size.) Trying to read a pdf on a Kindle is an exercise in frustration and rage! And really, the point of ebooks is to make your text accessible to your readers in a way that THEY control. If you want to control the appearance of your work, stick to print.

    Pdf ebooks? Just, don't.

    To create ebooks in appropriate formats, just download Calibre (it's free!) and go to town.
    Last edited by benbenberi; 01-03-2018 at 06:20 PM.

  7. #7
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin ajenery's Avatar
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    Great, that helped a lot. Now I know why converting a pdf to epub using calibre didn't really work, formatting was not good. By .doc, you mean as in saving to .doc in openoffice (which is an MS Word extension) and not .sxw?
    Last edited by ajenery; 01-04-2018 at 03:02 AM.

  8. #8
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin ajenery's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lizmonster View Post
    You can't really think of ebooks as something with a fixed layout. The whole point of them is to have scalable (and changeable) fonts and text flow. ePub and mobi both handle this differently.

    Personally, I hate reading pdfs on an ereader, and I avoid it whenever possible.

    As for the "required" formats for iBooks and Amazon - having not read their TOS for authors, I can't say, but I suspect you're stuck there. I know there are services (like Smashwords) that can help you with the conversions; try the self-pub forum for a definitive list.
    Yea, I see. I guess I was guilty of thinking exactly like that - I wanted my ebooks to be fixed like the e-equivalent of a physical book. BTW, I googled 'pdf page on kindle' and 'pdf page on ipad' and looked at 'images' and some of the examples were okay to me. Why do you hate reading pdfs on an ereader? Is that just being pc? Obviously if the pdf is say A5 or A4 then there would be problems, but A6 would fit kindle for instance. Dunno.

  9. #9
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin ajenery's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by benbenberi View Post
    Because people read their iBooks and Kindle content on screens of many different sizes, in a great variety of environments and constraints, and providing a pdf gives you absolutely no idea what the file will look like on their screens or how readable it will be for your readers. (Typically, a pdf will look like shit, and probably like shit of an entirely inappropriate size.) Trying to read a pdf on a Kindle is an exercise in frustration and rage! And really, the point of ebooks is to make your text accessible to your readers in a way that THEY control. If you want to control the appearance of your work, stick to print.

    Pdf ebooks? Just, don't.

    To create ebooks in appropriate formats, just download Calibre (it's free!) and go to town.
    But in OO or Word, etc, I can have the pages set to say A6 (which is about standard novel size) and so the pages in the pdf will be same size, but I know what you mean I tried calibre, converted pdf to epub, but formatting wasn't great, so maybe I should save to .doc as AW Admin suggested.

  10. #10
    reading all the things Anna Iguana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ajenery View Post
    Yea, I see. I guess I was guilty of thinking exactly like that - I wanted my ebooks to be fixed like the e-equivalent of a physical book. BTW, I googled 'pdf page on kindle' and 'pdf page on ipad' and looked at 'images' and some of the examples were okay to me. Why do you hate reading pdfs on an ereader? Is that just being pc? Obviously if the pdf is say A5 or A4 then there would be problems, but A6 would fit kindle for instance. Dunno.
    Many people, me included, read using the Kindle app on a phone screen, which is smaller than the size of a page in a paperback book. Having to resize every page and drag the PDF page around the screen to be able to see it is unbelievably frustrating. Like Liz, I pretty much won't even read PDF copies of books anymore.

  11. #11
    All the nopes. lizmonster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anna Iguana View Post
    Many people, me included, read using the Kindle app on a phone screen, which is smaller than the size of a page in a paperback book. Having to resize every page and drag the PDF page around the screen to be able to see it is unbelievably frustrating. Like Liz, I pretty much won't even read PDF copies of books anymore.
    In addition to this, I often change fonts for readability. And I prefer light text on a dark background. I can't change these defaults for a PDF.

    Most of the PDF books I have are technical books I read on my laptop. On my iPad, for recreation? Nope.
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  12. #12
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    Yes, save as .doc -- rtf might work too.
    Emily Veinglory

  13. #13
    practical experience, FTW
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    rtf is a horrid format. I played around with it to convert a .doc file to EPUB but no luck.

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    Herder of Hamsters AW Admin's Avatar
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    I'm moving this to the self-publishing forum.

    Note that there are a number of FAQs about making ebooks.

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    practical experience, FTW benbenberi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ajenery View Post
    But in OO or Word, etc, I can have the pages set to say A6 (which is about standard novel size) and so the pages in the pdf will be same size
    The issue isn't the pages in the pdf, but the screen display on your readers' devices. Phones don't do A6. Even the biggest modern phones & e-readers have tiny screens compared to a typical small-format book. You have absolutely no idea what a reader's individualized display preferences are -- and it shouldn't matter to you. If someone needs to enlarge the text to max size, or prefers light text on a dark screen, or extra-wide margins & line spacing, or a specific font, or likes to hold their screen in landscape mode, there ought to be nothing in your ebook that prevents them seeing it the way they find most readable. Your job is to provide the reader with text that flows and displays according to the software settings & user preferences -- whatever those are.

    AW Admin's suggestions are generally good ones.

  16. #16
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    For Kindle, the kdp forums are a good resource. Anyone there will confirm that uploading as pdf is a mistake. If your .doc output doesn't make good use of styles you can either clean it up yourself or use liberwriter.com which is only $40 and includes permanent archiving of the manuscript.

    If you upload your kindle in fixed format you can never change that listing back to reflowable. So resist the urge to "just try it out".
    Last edited by veinglory; 01-04-2018 at 08:26 PM.
    Emily Veinglory

  17. #17
    Runs With Scissors RedWombat's Avatar
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    I have found that it is best to let go of micro-management with ebook formatting. You can get readers your words, you can’t necessarily get them your dropcaps.

  18. #18
    practical experience, FTW WriterBN's Avatar
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    True. The simpler the formatting, the better chance that it will readable across all devices.

    To the OP: You don't need a .mobi for KDP. I upload the same validated ePub file to KDP and the other retailers, and it works just fine.

  19. #19
    practical experience, FTW WriterBN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al X. View Post
    rtf is a horrid format. I played around with it to convert a .doc file to EPUB but no luck.
    It depends how it was created. It's a perfectly valid format, but if you "saved as RTF" from Word, then yes, you'll get a lot of garbage.

  20. #20
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin ajenery's Avatar
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    Okay, thanks to all for some more great pointers and advice I've now forgotten the idea of using pdf for smartphones or portable e-readers, so what I've done now is this. I re-saved the original OO files (.odt) to .doc format (word 97-03)and the formatting is practically the same. I'm now going to convert those directly to epub/mobi using calibre, so that's my next mini plan. BTW found this seemingly easy way of converting pdf/doc to kindle format here >

  21. #21
    practical experience, FTW WriterBN's Avatar
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    Keep in mind the prime directive for any "pushbutton" conversion from one format to another: garbage in, garbage out.

    In other words, make sure the source document is formatted as perfectly as possible before converting anything. For word processing software, that means strict use of paragraph styles for everything (no tabs or spaces for indents, no empty lines between paragraphs, etc.). I highly recommend reading the free Smashwords style guide, even if you don't plan to publish through them.

    Also, if you publish through KDP, Draft2Digital, or Smashwords, you can upload a properly formatted .doc file directly.
    Last edited by WriterBN; 01-06-2018 at 10:06 PM.

  22. #22
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    Epubs can be read on desktop computers, for free, with Adobe Digital Editions. I'd stay away from MOBI; PC users almost always do not have software to read MOBI documents. To maximize interest, Epub. I'd do PDF for things like textbooks.

  23. #23
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin ajenery's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WriterBN View Post
    Keep in mind the prime directive for any "pushbutton" conversion from one format to another: garbage in, garbage out.

    In other words, make sure the source document is formatted as perfectly as possible before converting anything. For word processing software, that means strict use of paragraph styles for everything (no tabs or spaces for indents, no empty lines between paragraphs, etc.). I highly recommend reading the free Smashwords style guide, even if you don't plan to publish through them.

    Also, if you publish through KDP, Draft2Digital, or Smashwords, you can upload a properly formatted .doc file directly.
    I never use tabs but must admit didn't know that you shouldn't use spaces for indents. So, I take it then that I should either use left justified and no spaces or fully justified (left, right) and no spaces? As to empty lines between paragraphs, I do this as well after every four or so paras, otherwise the text looks too blocky imho.

  24. #24
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin ajenery's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enlightened View Post
    Epubs can be read on desktop computers, for free, with Adobe Digital Editions. I'd stay away from MOBI; PC users almost always do not have software to read MOBI documents. To maximize interest, Epub. I'd do PDF for things like textbooks.
    Yea, I should have clarified a bit - I meant convert to epub/mobi for smartphones and e-reader use, not for pc, although I didn't know you can view epubs on pc, so thanks for saying. For pc or any system with a bigger screen I'd also use pdf.
    Last edited by ajenery; 01-07-2018 at 08:40 AM. Reason: typos

  25. #25
    practical experience, FTW benbenberi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enlightened View Post
    Epubs can be read on desktop computers, for free, with Adobe Digital Editions. I'd stay away from MOBI; PC users almost always do not have software to read MOBI documents. To maximize interest, Epub. I'd do PDF for things like textbooks.
    There's a free Kindle app for desktop use, so there's absolutely no problem if someone wants to read a mobi on a pc. There are also other apps (like Calibre) that can read mobi files but not necessarily Amazon's new proprietary version -- which if you're self-dubbing is not so much of an issue.

    Also, keep in mind that a large majority of e-readers are Kindles.

    You definitely DO want to make your books available in MOBI format.

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