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Understanding eBook Formats and eReaders

March 7, 2014

Currently Wikipedia charts 17 eBook formats that can be viewed on 28 different eReader platforms depending on the eReader application. With so many eBook formats and eReaders options, choosing what eBook format to read on what eReader can be confusing.

The two most common eBook formats are ePub and AZW (or Mobi). Most publishers and indie authors (independent authors who self-publish) publish these formats through Amazon, iBooks, and Barnes & Noble. ePub is the open standard for the eBook industry while AZW is Amazon’s proprietary format.

Because ePub is the standard format, it might be easy to assume there are more ePub eBooks available. But, with the Kindle’s popularity and the availability of software like Calibre to convert eBooks from ePub to AZW or the reverse, eBook formats are presently in flux.

Below is a list of common eReaders and corresponding eBook formats:


Amazon Kindles: Mobi or AZW (Amazon’s proprietary format)

Amazon Kindle Fire: Mobi or AZW or ePub

Android devices: ePub

Apple iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch: ePub

Nook: ePub

I’m not advocating one eReader device or eBook format over another, I just want you to understand your options, especially if you are new to eBooks and eReaders. I have friends who love their Kindles, and friends who can’t live without their Nooks. And I even have quite a few Android and iPad friends.


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