What is the difference: EPUB vs PDF

What is the difference: EPUB vs PDF

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December 3, 2022

In this article, we will help you understand the most popular formats for reading e-books. In the end, you will understand what suits you better: EPUB vs PDF. This knowledge will come in handy when buying a reader. And in the end, once you understand it, you will be able to fully enjoy reading the downloaded book with a cup of morning coffee 🙂

Table of Contents

E-book readers have long ago turned from something very exotic to the same familiar household device as the smartphone. The beauty is that reading with such devices does not damage your eyes because the electronic ink does not glow. It is possible to download hundreds of books in electronic form and travel freely around the world without carrying a lot of luggage. It is possible to configure any parameters of the text, including font type and size, and the book itself remembers the page where you stopped. Using electronic books alone reduces the need to cut down trees and print paper. The usefulness and convenience are much greater compared to paper books.

But beginning readers have questions: What format should these books be opened in? We will discuss the most popular formats and understand what format is better for you to choose between PDF vs EPUB.

What is PDF and EPUB

EPUB (Electronic Publishing) is the most widespread format for electronic books in the world. It is similar in structure to a website packed in an archive. By definition, it is a book packed in an archive. The ePub format was developed by the International Digital Publishing Forum in 2007. A book is a ZIP archive that can contain XHTML files, images, style sheets, and other data inside. In essence, ePub can be called almost a full-fledged web site, and with HTML5 support, it is even possible to embed video and audio. ePub is supported by almost all readers and is actively used by major publishers due to the ability to limit unauthorized copying via DRM protection. 

PDF (Portable Document Format) is basically paper in electronic form. It is static, fixed, and immutable. A PDF file is easy to use, distribute, and share, but you can’t customize or quickly change a PDF file, just like you can’t customize a printed physical book. It’s not very convenient.
PDF is the worldwide standard for digital documents. Originally created by Adobe, it has been used for digital documents by people, businesses, and governments for the better part of three decades. It essentially recreates a paper document digitally, which provides increased security and flexibility.
But now PDFs are giving way to something much more interesting and new. Let’s understand exactly why. You can read about what an PDF is and how to work with it in our previous blog post.

Which format is the better e-book format?

Structure ZIP archive with a set of files Document structure
File size In general, the epub format is about 10 times smaller. In a PDF file, not only the text is saved, but also the position and alignment of the individual characters.
Editing The ability to comment, highlight, correct, add photos, and use many other useful features. This is the advantage of the PDF file when sharing documents and working together with colleagues. EPUB books are designed specifically for reading. It is extremely difficult to edit this format.
Accessibility ePub is written primarily in two languages: XML and XHTML. It is compatible with most types of software and more accessible. Converting to a web format is quite difficult.
eSign ePub formats do not have this feature.
When working with PDF files, you can sign documents with an electronic signature to indicate ownership.
Formatting The ePub document will automatically resize to fit the screen size. It is capable of completely reformatting the contents of files. This is a key feature that has made it the choice of electronic publishers such as Nook and Kindle. When opening a PDF document on a device with a small screen, you have to zoom, pan, and pinch to read the document.

EPUB vs PDF: Pros and Сons

Multi-platform access++
Built-in security features++
Сomfortable readability of the format+
Rich media+
Convertibility to other formats++
Compatibility with readers+

If you’re a professional writer, you’re definitely wondering what format allows you to publish on multiple marketplaces and platforms at the lowest cost?
After all, you want to upload your amazing book to every marketplace, such as Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Amazon. Since you want more readers to be introduced to your creation. Also, you want your book to look professional on all platforms: Kindles, Nooks, iPads, smartphones, etc. It is for this that you must choose the most appropriate format.

4 reasons why EPUB is a better format to use than PDF

  1. Popularity and accessibility. Most e-books support the EPUB format. And for that reason, it is popular and preferred by most digital publishers. PDF files can be read on almost all devices, but you can’t read them on all e-books .
  2. Easy file creation and editing. Epub format has a variety of layout options, including writing text in blocks; the ability to embed illustrations (jpg, gif, png, and vector graphics svg), videos, and various formulas. You will need Adobe Acrobat PDF Creator to create a PDF file.
  3. Auto formatting. The main feature that distinguishes an ePUB from a PDF file is its ability to reformat its contents. When you open a PDF document on a device with a small screen, you have to zoom, pan, and pinch to read the document.
  4. Availability of multimedia documents. ePUB allows you to add these multimedia elements to an e-book to make them interactive. Pdf has a similar function, but the reader has to first find and then download the necessary software. And then try to play the video. This makes the pdf format not very convenient for reading e-books.

When should I use PDF?

You should use PDFs if you need a specific format for your e-book, when you are creating a printed book, or if your manuscript is graphically detailed.

PDF files do not support repurposing. They do not work well with any device except a printer. They do not change in size, format and do not change when you switch from one device to another. This can make PDFs extremely inconvenient to read on e-books, tablets, or phones. The font size will be too small for many devices.

That’s why PDFs should mostly be used in printed forms or when the ability to reconfigure is not possible.

Which is better: EPUB or PDF?

Both formats have their advantages:

  • EPUB is a universal format accepted by almost all publishers and readable by almost all e-books.
  • PDFs are necessary if you have a graphically detailed manuscript and need a fixed format, such as when publishing a printed book.

Now you know what format is best for publishing and reading books nowadays. Which one to choose depends on your initial idea and preferences.

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