Epub Vs Mobi: What Is the Difference?

epub vs mobi

During the last year, the acronym ‘E-pub’ started resonating strongly with, but for all the wrong reasons! The pandemic had taken its toll on our social lives, and what used to be a raging social fire turned into shimmering embers. No more restaurant dates or hanging out at bars, the pandemic killed all of that during the lockdown.

Wouldn’t an E-pub have been a great idea? An electronic platform, like Zoom, where people have drinks at home and chat with random strangers on the platform as if they were in a bar or restaurant.

Fortunately for you, there was no E-pub around during 2020 to distract you from being productive and you decided to finally start writing that book you always wanted to write. Now that you are done, you want to create an eBook but although you have limited knowledge about online publications, at least you know that MS Word is probably not the best format for your eBook.

You did a quick Google search for 'eBook format' and discovered things like epub, mobi, azw and kpf. You were even more confused than before. Where to start?

It certainly is confusing and difficult to decide which eBook format would be best for your publication. In this article, we will try to shed some light on the topic and hopefully make your life a little easier.

What is the difference between epub and mobi.

Firstly, let’s assume that your book does not contain lavish photos, drawings, and diagrams. For that reason, we will not be focussing on the pdf format in this article.

The most common eBook reader formats are .epub and .mobi. The main differentiator between these two formats is that epub is open source and is supported across most platforms while .mobi is a proprietary format primarily used for Amazon Kindle. Let’s put both under the microscope separately.

As stated before, the epub (stands for electronic publication) format is suitable for most platforms and these include the big players such as Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo, Barnes and Noble Press, and Google Play Books. In fact, there are close to 300 platforms that are epub-friendly. It was created by the International Digital Publishing Forum and is updated frequently to keep up with emerging trends in the consumer sphere as well as advancements in tech. EPUB 3.2 was released in 2019 and The Book Industry Study Group has endorsed EPUB 3 as the format of choice for eBooks worldwide.

Mobi (short for the Mobipocket eBook format) is basically the grandfather ghost of an eBook company that Amazon bought long before Jeff Bezos had sufficient money to consider space exploration as a hobby.

The original Mobi file format is almost non-existent but its grandchildren, AZW, AZW3, and KFX are alive and well on the Amazon Kindle device. Many people still use the word “mobi” when they refer to these Kindle ebook formats.

I know you are burning to find out which one to choose but hang in there! We will get there soon.

Can epub be read on Kindle?

In short, epub formats CAN'T be read by Kindle or a Kindle ereader. Kindle reads specific mobi descendant files (AZW format etc) and epub is not one of them. Thanks to modern technology, we have a solution for you that would make you jump with joy.

Can you convert epub to mobi?

If you are an avid reader and you just love taking your Kindle everywhere you go, but you have a few books that are in epub format, here is some exhilarating news for you! You can convert epub into mobi by using ebook conversion tools such as Calibre, Convertio, Cloudconvert, etc if you want to read these files on your Kindle.

If you are a writer and you are concerned about your epub format manuscript, here is some other great news for you. Amazon did not accept epub formats in the past, but they evolved and today, you can upload your epub manuscript and they will convert it into mobi in the background so that readers can enjoy your book on Kindle.

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What are the pros and cons of epub vs mobi?

Now that you know a little more about where these formats come from, and what they stand for, now let’s consider the pros and cons of epubs vs mobi so that you can decide which is best for you.


Epub pros and cons: 

Have you ever opened a PDF file on your phone? Do you remember how your fingers were more active than when scrolling through Tinder on a lonely Friday evening? You scrolled and zoomed and panned, and the whole process left you a little short of carpal tunnel syndrome.

The reason why is that the pdf document is not reflowable like epub, it has a fixed layout format. Reflowable means that the epub format adjusts to the device you are using at the time so that you can enjoy the most hassle-free reading experience with the reflowable content. 

Epubs are easier to use than most other eBook formats. Not only are they reflowable which makes life easier for the reader, but they are easy to create and edit.

If you can sniff out a publisher that does not accept epub books, then you should go and work at the airport and help the dogs sniff out drugs. Almost all publishers accept epub books in their marketplaces.

Apart from Kindle, almost all other eBook readers will open epub. These include Nook, Andriod, Sony Reader, Apple's ibook, Adobe Editions, etc.

You can give life to your book by adding multimedia files such as tutorial videos, illustrations, etc in the epub format.

When you are using Google Docs, you can download an epub book, unlike the mobi derivatives. Large docs are no problem for epub either.

And now for the ‘but’.

As stated before, your Kindle device or Kindle app will pull up its nose to your epub file like some spoiled kid that just got served a good helping of broccoli. In case you skimmed past this information before, here is another reminder that you can easily use an eBook converter and convert the files yourself and Amazon also auto-converts them when you upload epub files.

Digital rights management or DRM for short is an optional anti-piracy layer in epubs and they are not present in all epubs.


Mobi pros and cons: 

Mobi (or rather AZH and KPF) are the exclusive formats for Kindle. If you want to read your book on your Kindle, it has to be in the Mobi format.

Amazon uses Mobi format in its marketplace, but it will accept your epub manuscript and then convert it to mobi.

You can convert mobi to epub if you wish using free converter software.

Mobi files are safer seeing that they include a digital rights management (DRM) layer that protects your book from pesty pirates.

But…

Mobi is predominantly a Kindle format and is not welcome widely in other marketplaces. This, along with the fact that Amazon will convert your epub file anyway, deters most writers from creating mobi legacy format books.

The verdict of epub vs mobi format. 

Here is our Golden Rule for eBook format selection: Find out which marketplace would be best for you and create the ebook according to their requirements.

Epub format is the biggest vendor-independent format and is also the most read format in the world. The easiest would be to have an epub formatted book and then convert it to mobi if you have to. As stated before, Amazon will do it for you anyway if you desire to sell it there.

Hopefully, unlike with me in 2020, the word epub would resonate strongly with you now for all the good reasons.

Have you published a book before, and did you face any challenges when it came to formats or do you have some advice to share? Please be so kind as to share your thoughts and opinions on our social media platforms or contact us directly.

About the author

Denis Caron

I help you build a loyal fanbase who enjoy and appreciate your books through 1-on-1 and group coaching. Learn more.

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