PDF, as we all know, refers to a file format which is used to present documents in a manner that is not dependent on application software, hardware and operating systems. ePUB which stands for electronic publication format, is on the other hand a file format specifically for ebooks which can be downloaded and read on devices such as smart phones, tablets, computers or e-readers.
PDF stands for Portable Document Format and has been in use since it was developed in early 1990s as a way to share computer documents, including text formatting and inline images. PDF is famous right? We all know much more about it than we know about ePUB. But there are some cons in PDF, for instance, PDF files don’t become well accustomed to various sized displays and devices, especially on small screens that come with some readers and smart phones.
If you try opening a PDF eBook on a phone, you would realize that PDF files contain static text. As in, if there are 500 words on a page when you create it on a laptop, there will be 500 words for a small iPhone screen. Obviously the text will be too small to be legible, so you’ll in turn have to enlarge the page, and next, you’ll have to scroll it around with your finger in order to read everything on the page.
That is the problem with PDF. But with ePUB, things are different. In ePUB books, text is not static. Rather, it is re-flowable, or, in web terms, responsive. ePub ebooks display as much text as will fit on the screen, depending on the text size the user has chosen. So, the convenience of the reader doesn’t get compromised, instead, all the user has to do is read and flip pages. Easy enough? A reader can also get their Printed Books converted into ePub format for the ease of reading.
ePUB is written in two formats, namely XML and XHTML and hence works smoothly with almost every type of software. But, the flaw here is that, while with a PDF file you can take the proper software and create the file without any real programming knowledge. However, with ePUB, there is a need to know the basics of the associated languages in order to build valid files.
Moreover, if you want to publish to Amazon, B&N etc. You cannot upload PDFs and upload it on Amazon.
Another difference that can be seen is that a PDF file is actually a print format whereas an ePUB is an electronic book format. If your end target is a print file, then PDF should be the preferable choice but if you wish for an electronic format that reflows to fit various devices, then an ePUB file is going to suit you the best. If you want Pdf to ePub conversion, then it’s also possible.
Looking at the above points, we can hereby see that both PDF and ePUB are both important and efficient, however, the platforms and devices on which they work efficiently is different.
So basically, the nature of the document determines which of is more appropriate- PDF or ePUB, it’s usually quite clear a choice.