Tuesday 15 March 2016

E-books: Do you PDF?

It's commonly accepted that there are two main formats for e-books these days. We have mobi, specifically for Amazon Kindle devices/apps, and epub, for just about everything else.

But there's a third option, that a few self-publishing sites (most notably Smashwords) allow, and that's PDF.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

There was a discussion in one of the indie author groups on Facebook the other day, and a few of the authors told me that they immediately un-tick the option to export to PDF format in Smashwords, when publishing.

I understand that PDF isn't a very good format for an e-book, because there are page breaks, and the formatting is exact; epub and mobi are what they call "re-flowable", which basically means that the font isn't set in stone, and there are no page breaks. This makes for easier reading on a specialised device, or on your phone or tablet using a specialised app.

Having said that, many of my readers are first-time e-book buyers. They know and are comfortable with PDF, but they don't have an e-reader (either a physical device, or just an app). PDF is therefore the easiest way to ease them in.

Am I making a mistake doing this, though? Do you read e-books in PDF format? Why, or why not? Should I rather be taking the time to teach these new e-book buyers about the different formats, apps, and how to read epubs and mobis?

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