Introduction to eBook Readers and Formats

eBook readers have become quite popular in recent years and to encash on its popularity nowadays almost all book are published in eBook form. The success of eBook readers can be attributed to the experience it provides, which is very close to reading a real book and the its capability to carry large number of books wherever you go. Unlike Laptops, you can hold it in one hand, it hardly produces any heat and last for weeks with a single charge. Still you will come across lots of people who like to stick with real book, may be they like the smell of it or does not want to miss the ease at which it can be thrown around. Let us have a detailed look at the technology behind eBook and the various readers and applications available.

Basically there are two types of eBook readers available in the market.
  1. Dedicated eBook readers ex: Amazon Kindle/ Nook Color / Sony eBook Reader PRS 700
  2. Tablets running eBook Reader applications: ex: iBook on iPad, Kindle on Kindle Fire
Dedicated eBook readers generally use e-ink technology for its display which won’t emit light like LCD screens so many argues it is easier on eyes for prolonged use. But recent study conducted my some Ophthalmologist in US could not find any proof to substantiate this. It consumes less power so your eBook can be used for days without charging. Moreover you can read books in outdoors in a sunny day an e-ink powered eBook reader unlike in LCD screens. But the biggest disadvantage of e-link technology as on today is that it can display only black and white images even though color e-ink is demonstrated it is far from production. So it is ideally suited for people who read lots of fiction where the color is in your imagination. Non fictional readers prefer real colors so tablets are more suited for them where images and movies come to life.

Dedicated eBook Readers

You may look into the following facts before deciding on a good eBook Reader
  1. Design: Dedicated eBook readers normally use e-Ink technology with a form factor very convenient for holding in your palm while reading. The following factors need to be considered while choosing a dedicated eBook reader
    • Screen size (6”, 7”)
    • Screen resolution; typically it comes with 800X600.
    • Weight – It should be light less than 25 grams is ideal
    • Navigation buttons or touch screen navigation
  2. Storage
    • Internal storage: 4GB or more
    • Provision for add on SD card
  3. Battery Life: Both standby and reading hours
  4. Connectivity
    • USB
    • Wi-Fi
    • 3G
  5. Content formats: Mobi, PDF, ePub, AZW, etc.
  6. Content: The number of titles available and the ease of buying
  7. Other options: Multimedia capability, Internet browsing and text to speech capability etc.
The popular dedicated eBook readers available in the market are Kindle series from Amazon, Nook from Barnes and Noble, Sony eBook readers and Kobo wireless reader. For a comparison visit this link.

eBook formats:

eBooks support at least one of the following formats: ePub, Mobil, ASW, CHM, lit or PDF.

ePub format

ePub format is a free and open e-book standard by International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF). ePub standard allows formatting of content to suit the display devices. It uses XHTML to construct the content of a book. The latest version ePub3 which is published on 11th Oct ’11 promises better support for multimedia and more languages like Chinese, Arabic etc to make it more of an international standard. Most of the fiction comes in ePub format of size less than 1MB; on an average it has the least footprint for an eBook.
ePub format was initially supported by Sony eBook readers and recently became the most popular format due to the huge popularity of iPad. Its iBooks eBook Apps use ePub as the native format. For more information visit

Mobi format 

Mobi format is very popular since it is the basis of Kindle ASW format. It was originally an extension of the PalmDOC format by adding certain HTML like tags to the data. Many MOBI formatted documents still use this form. However there is also a high compression version of this file format that compresses data to a larger degree in a proprietary manner. The higher compression mode is using a huffman coding scheme that has been called the Huff/cdic algorithm. For more information visit

ASW format

ASW format is native to Amazon eBook readers. It is a compressed form of MOBI format with a proprietary DRM (Digital Rights Management) implementation.CHM format and lit formats are from Microsoft and is available on Windows mobile devices

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