Have you noticed that when it comes to the electronic world, no one can seem to get along? Macs and PCs didn’t always want to talk to each other. One word processor didn’t get along with another’s documents. This situation has improved somewhat, but not in the e-reader world.
Adobe’s PDF was one of the first formats that crossed platforms of the various types of computers. PDF is still a popular choice for e-books because it is readable on the popular devices such as the Kindle and iPad. PDF files are now easy to make, not requiring special software, and easy to download from websites.
Beyond PDF, there is little compatibility among the e-readers. Kindle has its own format based on MOBI and doesn’t like EPUB files. iBooks uses EPUB but won’t look at a MOBI file. The Nook reads EPUB files but not MOBI. All three of the popular e-readers do accept PDF files.
If that’s the case, why different formats? Who knows. Why can’t Pages files (a Mac word processor) be read by Word? I would prefer to only need one e-reader or reader app. That’s not the way the system works, though.
What does this mean for you as an e-book producer? Have your product available in the various formats. Make it easy for your reader to use. If you can start only with one file type, go with PDF first. It’s cross platform and makes your e-book available to more consumers.
The other option is to have a third-party handle your e-book for you. There are a number of companies that distribute e-books to the various e-reader outlets.
Whatever method you use, make your e-book available for as many devices as you can.
Do you think the format war come to a truce with one particular format? Who will win?