A quick overview of popular eBook formats
Professional publishers use traditional eBook formats. There are two main file types for the most typical traditional eBooks: ePUB and Mobi.
Most traditional eBooks are published in this open source format. ePub is relatively easy to create but has limited options for engaging design. ePub is not SEO optimised nor interactive, so it really does not ﬁt in for marketing purposes.
This is the ﬁle format of the most popular eBook reader – Kindle by Amazon. You can sell your eBooks on the Kindle store but people need a Kindle reader to read your book. Kindle is not SEO optimized nor interactive, so it really does not ﬁt in for marketing purposes either.
Content marketers use the following three file types for the most typical marketing eBooks: the original PDF, the legacy Flash and the modern HTML5.
The PDF format is familiar to most people, is easy to produce and is used for a wide range of things online. PDF is however not very multimedia friendly and rather dull and does not respond to the user’s input online: people can download a multipage PDF but not read the pages easily on the web.
Receiving a large PDF ﬁle in one’s inbox can be extremely annoying. Once a person clicks on the PDF, he may be stuck waiting for the document to download if it happens to be a large ﬁle. On the other hand if a low-resolution PDF-downloads quickly, it may have non desired viewing or print quality issues. The PDF format is best suited for a one page or two page document.
PDF replica as basis for the Flash and HTML5 formats
Although eBook is the most used name for an online publication or digital edition, many other names are used for an online publication when used as a content marketing eBook. Just to name a few: FlipBook, ePaper, Turn Page Publication, LookBook etc.
A digital FlipBook takes the design from both the printed original and the digital PDF-ﬁle and converts it for the web as a replica without any changes in design. No need to redesign the PDF to create a FlipBook. Your FlipBook publication is comfortable to browse through and offers the reader a ultimate viewing experience with enhanced functionalities on any device. Navigation is very well known to all readers from printed magazines, searching is easier than in a PDF and it looks and feels more like a printed version.
Online digital publications are replicas of the original PDF-document and were originally often converted into online documents using the Flash ﬁle format. The size of the original magazine can be from tabloid to a small booklet and still look great online on any size of the monitor or screen. Rich media like videos and links to other sites are additional features of the Flash-based format.
Is it outdated?
As Flash has recently become a not recommended ﬁle format on the web by many, this needs to be considered while publishing online. It may be unreadable for customers who use modern browsers which do not support Flash and should therefore be avoided. Upcoming security issues using the Flash-format also makes the use of this format undesired.
No mobile support and not always SEO
Another problem being that Flash-pages are in some cases just converted into images to be shown on screen. The text is therefore in some cases not search engine optimised (SEO) and Google does not ﬁnd your content this way. And worst of all, Flash does not support mobile devices, leaving the biggest growing segment of readers unreached.
HTML5 is nowadays the most useful state of the art ﬁle format for the web. This format is also more commonly used for websites, so like PDF it is not an eBook only format. HTML5 has fast loading times and opportunity to add interactive elements.
Viewers need no specialist software to read
Marketing eBooks are most favourably seen in the HTML5 format as they don’t require specialist software in order to read them. This helps to maximize the audience for your book as you won’t be excluding anyone who doesn’t have an eBook reader. Best of all, it needs no downloading ever.
A smooth mobile friendly format
Instead of placing customers or others into technical problems with Flash or usability issues with PDF, you should send a ePaper HTML5-link instead. A fully optimized HTML5-link is fast and easy to access and ready to view for your customers.
Fortunately, modern technology allows you to make interactive PDFs into this modern HTML5-format that people can read online even if you do not have any technical knowledge. There is no need to change the creation workflow or design of the materials.
Our suggestion for marketers
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