The burgeoning popularity of ebooks has led to the introduction of numerous reading devices such as the iPad, Kindle and Sony Reader. The easy availability of e-books on hordes of topics in various formats have contributed significantly to the usability of these reading devices. Among the more popular eBook formats of the day are PDF (Portable Document Format) and EPUB (Electronic Publication). Here is a look at how they compare with each other.
A product of Adobe Systems. PDF was launched in 1993 as the open standard for the exchange of documents. However, it was officially released in 2008; the format aids in the easy printing of documents and facilitates their sharing online. The original layout of the document is retained in PDF.
Launched by the International Digital Publishing Forum in 2007, EPUB is a free and open standard format for e-books and other documents. It offers optional style sheets and is based on XML and XHTML.
EPUB vs. PDF
Popularity: PDF plug-ins, support tools, solutions, creations etc are offered by a whopping 1800 vendors all cross the world. On the other hand, the fairly recent launch of EPUB has meant that the format has yet to garner this level of support
Layout: When a PDF file is created, its visual aspects such as images, tables and other elements will retain their original layout. A PDF file will be displayed the same regardless of the device used to view it. EPUB scores over PDF in this aspect with its support of reflowable content; an EPUB file can be optimized to offer a superlative reading experience based on the device being used.
Versatility: PDF allows the user to highlight text, take notes, annotate and more; on the other hand, EPUB does not allow editing. split pdf pages
Open Standard: Unlike PDF, EPUB is an open standard format which means that it is accessible to just about anybody without a fee
Accessibility: PDF offers assistive technology which helps to make information more accessible to people with disabilities; EPUB does not have this function.
Readability: One of the drawbacks of using PDF is the same appearance of the files regardless of the application used to create and view them. So, when a printed book is scanned into PDF it will look just like the paper version. While PDF works just fine when used on PC or Mac; it’s readability leaves a lot to be desired. Readers have to go through the trouble of opening a PDF file and constantly zooming in and out to adjust the size of the page for better reading. EPUB scores here as the reflowable content feature makes the page fit the screen size of the device that the book is being read on.
Security: PDF has superlative security features that include digital sign, so it is possible to protect an eBook in the PDF format with restrictions and with an open password. An immense amount of sensitive data is available in the PDF format online just because the information can be protected in this format. An EPUB file can contain DRM as an option; however, it is not a mandatory requirement.
Interactivity: PDF files can easily be bookmarked or links can be inserted in them, so it is simpler to navigate to the internet from the file. It is also possible to create interactive PDF files with the Adobe Reader. EPUB does not support interactivity.
Both EPUB and PDF have advantages and disadvantages associated with their use, so it would be meaningless to conclude that one format is better than the other. The choice of format should depend on the device that will be used to view the ebook. If the original format is not compatible with a reader, it would make sense to change it.