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eBook Format Conversion Tips

  Convert epub to other file types with Calibre

  ( signifies Kindle compatibility with a .mobi or .azw3 file)

  ( or signifies Kobo or Nook compatibility with a .epub format file)

  ( signifies laptop/desktop compatibility with a .pdf acrobat reader file)

Overview of eBook File Formats
Computer literacy is an art that comes with time, practice and a determination to understand how the digital world works. If you are a newbie and expect and want the life of eBook readers to be simple and stay simple, know this. Each eReader brand wants you to be its exclusive customer. They want to own your credit card number and your ability to read books on the device they sell. They will erect a series of barriers with electronic encryption padlocks to keep a competitors ebooks from being readable on the device they sell. If you own a Kindle, amazon wants you shop at their store and buy their books and not to buy any books at the Google store, the Nook store, the Kobo store, the Apple store or anywhere else. They want to own your wallet and they enforce their territorial "rights" by erecting book file compatibility issues and if you are a savvy user you can leap over those barriers with file format conversion software. If this burden is too much for you, you are chained to your brand. You must buy your books at their store and never look back, just take a deep sigh and resign yourself to being a book brand slave who can be manipulated by the corporate media conglomerate like so much putty. If you own more than one brand of reader and want to read your favorite books on all of them, guess what you will need to do.

In principle electronic books may be read on a host of devices, such as computers, Android tablets and phones, iOS tablets and phones, Kindles, Nooks, and Kobo tablets. Each manufacturer will choose those formats that a given make and model will support. Here is an abbreviated summary chart derived from a Wikipedia article. If you have an unusual brand of reader or have not experimented with the capabilities of your reader, you may want to consult the chart. The epub file format is very popular as a way to distribute ebooks because it is flexible to work with because they will convert to other format cleanly. Thus epub files are a good choice as a starting point for file conversions if your reader does not accept an unchanged epub file. A pdf file is a very poor starting point for ereader file conversions, because the result of conversions with it will be messy and unaesthetic. A free program called Calibre is an ideal way to convert ebooks from one format to another format as long as the ebook is not protected by Digital Rights Management (DRM) encryption that manufacturers use to frustrate users. PDF, AZW3 and Mobi files are all candidates for encryption, epub is an open packaging format (OPF) that in its unblemished form is encryption free and is the native format used by the Nook and Kobo eReaders, incompatible readers can normally be made epub compatible if an appropriate app is installed. Be aware that all major resellers, Apple, amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo, interfere with the normal use of readers most of the time by messing up their book files with some kind of DRM. Electronic books purchased from amazon.com are typically incompatible with reader brands other than the Kindle and vice versa unless special apps are installed or file conversions are done. Rich Text Format (rtf) is supported by many readers and by Calibre, .doc and .docx formats are seldom supported, but .docx is compatible with Calibre. Acrobat files may be compatible with many readers in theory, but the type is rendered in such a way that, more often than not, it is unreadable because it is too small or clumsy to read.

Most eReader manufacturers would like you to register your reader and start to buy books from them via some kind of download arrangement. This is totally unnecessary. You can do what is called sideloading, that is, connect your device via cable or wi-fi to a computer and wait for it to appear in the list of devices connected to your computer. Calibre can then be used to communicate with your device. It can help you manage what books you want to be available to you on your reader. If the ebooks you buy or borrow have DRM and you want to move them to your reader, a program called Adobe Digital Editions will be needed to manage the files.

There are many sources for free online books free of DRM. Just type free online books into Google and dozens of sites will be listed such as The Online Books Page and the list at IPL. Out of copyright books from before 1924 are listed at the Archive.org book archives which is a huge archive with holdings in many formats and from many public domain sources including Project Gutenberg, Google books, Library of Congress free titles and the superb Harry Houdini collection in Great Britain.

If you are inspired to create your own books from scratch as a self-publisher, find a copy of APE; Author, Publisher, Entrepenuer-How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki or sign up for Kindle Unlimited on amazon and read it for free! The advice he gives is suitable for someone who wants to create highly professional ebooks free of the kinds of glitches that will generate support calls to vendor hotlines. You do not have to own inDesign and half a dozen brands of readers to make an ebook if you are the only one who will read the file. WordPad and Calibre are sufficient if you are willing to navigate the learning curve. Sigil is a piece of software that can edit epub files, but is unnecessary for unornamented simple files such as fiction.

If your forte is best sellers and you have a Kindle, you might like to find a local public library that uses Overdrive to supply patrons with free borrowing access to recent titles. The bigger the library, the wider selection of titles they are likely to have available.

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