Guide to ebook formats

We currently sell ebooks in these formats:

  • EPUB for Ebook Reader (preferred option for mobile devices)
  • PDF for Ebook Reader
  • PDF for Digital Editions
  • EPUB for Digital Editions
  • Online Reader format (read in your internet browser without any additional software)

These formats are supported by all devices compatible with Adobe Digital Editions (Windows) or Ebook Reader (iOS, Android, Blackberry & Kindle Fire).

Most books can also be read online using our Online Reader and any major web browser.

About the different formats

PDF for Digital Editions / Ebook Reader

This means that the ebook was originally a PDF and has been encrypted to protect the author from the risk of piracy.

PDF is the most popular document publishing format for general use. You're probably familiar with PDF – it's the file format that normally opens up in Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat. In order to give users a simpler and "cleaner", less cluttered reading interface, Adobe developed Adobe Digital Editions (ADE), especially for reading ebooks. Most recognized book publishers release ebooks in "copy-protected", encrypted form and 'PDF for Digital Editions' is a popular choice.

The great thing about viewing PDF ebooks is that they retain the original design of each page – so you see on your screen exactly what the book designer intended. Formats that are more suited to smaller screens (like EPUB) tend to lose page formatting when displayed on a computer screen.

EPUB for Digital Editions / Ebook Reader

The EPUB format is perfect for reading on smaller screens, because the lines of text 'reflow' and adjust to accommodate varying font sizes and screen sizes. The EPUB format suits books with lots of images like comics, graphic novels and recipe books. You can also get 'enhanced EPUBs' which means that they can have audio or video embedded in the ebook so you can listen/watch inside the Ebook Reader app without having to be redirected to an external internet browser or video player.

Online Reader

The Online Reader format was created by It allows you to read the ebook online in the same web browser you used to purchase your ebook. Currently the Online Reader is based on the original PDF file of the ebook, so it displays in a very similar way to a PDF. For more information see Using Online Reader.

Maximising Compatibility

Because Adobe Digital Editions isn't available on some mobile devices, we developed our own Ebook Reader app. Ebook Reader is compatible with the same PDF and EPUB files used by ADE, but expands the number of devices that can make use of these formats (check the device guide). We also developed our Online Reader which expands the number of compatible devices even further still to almost any device with an internet browser.

Which ebook format is for me?

For a Computer, Choose PDF

If you only expect to read your ebook on a computer (not on a phone or special ebook device), then you should choose a PDF-based ebook. This is because PDFs display the pages of a book exactly as they were designed by the book publisher. In other words, a PDF will usually maintain the design integrity of the original printed book. With other formats, pages can look different – sometimes radically different – when displayed.

For a Hand-Held Device, Choose EPUB

PDFs sometimes display awkwardly on small screens, while some the EPUB format is designed especially for reading on smaller screens. If you have a smart phone, PDA or special ebook reader device, then you should choose EPUB.


Although we suggest different formats for different devices, it is worth noting that some books are only available in only one format. Even if it is not the recommended format for your device, this does not mean that you will not be able to read the book perfectly well! Also the Online Reader is always another option.

Next steps:

Check our guide on Getting started.

Or if you're ready to make your first purchase, read our guide on Buying an ebook.

If you want to know more about what devices you can read our ebooks on please check our Device guide.

If you can't find the help that you need please contact our support team.

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