eBook readers makes reading a new level of comfort wherever you go. If attentive enough, you will find eBook layout varies according to the eBook formats. Yes, there are plenty of eBook formats available for an eBook writer or publisher for production,  such as the eBook formats-text (.txt), Hypertext (.htm or .html), Open eBook (.opf), Adobe Portable Document Format (.pdf), Palm Media (.pdb), Mobipocket (.prc or .mobi), IDPF/EPUB(.epub) and more. However, PDF and EPUB formats are two of the most popular eBook formats.

In the article, I'd like to have simple introduction of PDF and EPUB eBook formats, then make comparison between PDF and EPUB.

What's PDF?

Portable Document Format (PDF), developed by Adobe Systems in 1993, is the open standard for document exchange. And it was officially released as open standard on July 1, 2008. It facilitates document sharing on the Internet and handy printing of documents. It retains the original layout of the document.

About EPUB:
EPUB (short for Electronic Publication), a free and open e-book standard by the International Digital Publishing Forum, became as an official standard of IDPF in September 2007. It is based on XHTML and XML along with optional style sheets.


The official Adobe website states "More than 1,800 vendors worldwide offer PDF-based solutions including creation, plug-in, consulting, training, and support tools." from http://www.adobeopenoptions.com/uk/products/acrobat/adobepdf.html In this case, EPUB is less popular than PDF.

Both PDF and EPUB support multiplatform: Mac OS, Microsoft Windows, UNIX, and many mobile platforms.

PDF file creates a static image, tables, images, and other elements and well retain the original layout. PDF ebooks can be display the same way for every user. However, EPUB has its outstanding feature-support reflowable content, the text display can be optimized for the EPUB-reading devices.

PDF file can be created to take notes, highlights, annotate, etc with Adobe Acrobat.
However, EPUB-formatted ebook can be read-only, no editing function.

PDF file can be encrypted for security with two different methods. Protect by user password and some specific operation restricted like printing, copying text or image, etc.
EPUB file can be optionally contain DRM, but it is not must.

With assistive technology, PDF documents can make information accessible with people with disabilities. But, EPUB ebook doesn't have the function.

Note: PDF files are supported various e-book readers: Mobipocket, iRex iLiad, iRex DR1000, Sony Reader, Bookeen Cybook, Foxit eSlick, Amazon Kindle (1, 2, International & DX), Barnes & Noble Nook, the iPad, PocketBook Reader and more.

EPUB formats can be readable on Kobo eReader, Apple iPad, Barnes and Noble Nook, Sony Reader, BeBook, Bookeen Cybook Gen3 (with firmware v. 2 and up),COOL-ER, Adobe Digital Editions, Lexcycle Stanza, BookGlutton, AZARDI, Aldiko, etc.

In brief, it is meaningless to have a definite conclusion about which eBook format stands out. Both of them have their cons and pros. However, if you original eBook can not be supported by the device, you would better convert it to the compatible format with your device. For example, you have a bundle of PDF documents and intend to read them on your iPad. If you prefer to use iBooks to read the eBooks, you would better render a tool PDF to EPUB Converter to convert PDF to EPUB, because EPUB format can be well compatible with iBook app.




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