Get to Know the E-Book Formats, E-Book Readers and Audiobooks

If you have just discovered the magic of ebooks and audiobooks, you might wonder what type of files you should get and where to read or play them. This guide shows you the basics.

Most Common Formats
• MOBI (Mobipocket) is primarily used for Kindle and MobiPocket Reader, but is also supported in most platforms. It is a reflowable format, meaning you can customize files like typing notes.
• EPUB is recognized by most e-book devices and is reflowable. Some people refer to this as a universal e-book format.
• PDF (Portable Document Format) was designed for Acrobat. This format is as popular, but has limited features that can be customized. They retain the original look of the document.

• DOC is supported by few e-readers but can be accessed using applications. It can be converted to other formats however.
• TXT (Plain Text) is one of the earliest formats. It cannot be customized, but most operating systems can read TXT.
• AZW is a format made exclusively for Amazon Kindle. It’s similar to MOBI but with a higher compression.
• ODF (Open Document Format) is for OpenOffice. Users can pick this option besides Microsoft Office.
• CBR (or CBZ, CBT, CBA), also called comic book archive was designed primarily for viewing images. It’s ideal for comics and visual novels.

Remember that when choosing a format, you must consider whether you prefer a fixed layout or a reflowable layout. Fixed means that the digital format looks exactly the same as the print. Reflowable can be personalized. You can change the font size and style for example. Not all formats will look the same on a single device and it will even vary among different devices.

The E-Book Readers
Below is a list of the five most common e-book readers and the types of formats they support:

• Amazon Kindle supports AZW, MOBI, PDF, and TXT.
• Barnes & Noble Nook supports EPUB and PDF.
• Apple iPad supports EPUB, DOC, and PDF.
• Sony Reader supports EPUB, PDF, and TXT.
• Kobo eReaders support EPUB, MOBI, PDF, and TXT.

The list of supported formats for each e-reader is not comprehensive however and is subject to change. Other formats can be converted as well.

There are other e-readers available in the market. You can also read e-books using your smartphones by downloading and installing applications.

Audiobooks
Other book lovers also opt for audiobooks, or talking books, and listen to voice recordings of a narrator. This is a convenient method for busy readers and travelers. They are also a perfect substitute for people who can easily retain information through hearing than reading. In an audiobook, a narrator reads a text in a recording booth. It’s like listening to a radio drama.

The most common audiobook formats are AAC or Advanced Audio Coding, MP3, and WMA (Windows Media Audio). The speed of audiobooks can be customized.

Old audiobooks were recorded in vinyl records, cassette tapes and CDs. Nowadays, you can listen to them using your smartphones, tablets, MP3 players and portable music players. Some websites offer free audiobooks without having to download the book.

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