Introduction to the module

Welcome to the first lesson in the Book Production Basics module. Read or listen.

The key to creating your book is formatting.

You've heard the terms: PDF, EPUB, MOBI for Kindle, fixed-format or fixed-layout EPUB and MOBI, HTML, HTML5. Oh, and there's EPUB2 and EPUB3. Overwhelmed? Of course you are!

Do you need to create your book in all these formats?

The short answer

Are you breathing a big sigh of relief? I hope so!

My aim is to make you an expert on book formats. I won't geek out too much, you don't need to know the details of coding in these formats. You just need to know how to get your book into the right format for print and for the electronic devices your customers own, whether it be an iPhone or a Kindle, a NOOK or a Kobo or an iPad or a Samsung Galaxy or whatever.

First, a short review.

What are the book formats?

The formats you'll learn about in this section are PDF for print, and EPUB, MOBI, HTML, and fixed-layout formats that reach certain kinds of e-reading devices via apps. But most authors will only be concerned about the three basic types of book formats:

  • PDF is the standard for print. It stands for Portable Document Format.
  • EPUB is the ebook format needed for all ebooks except Amazon Kindle. EPUB stands for Electronic PUBlication.
  • MOBI is the Kindle for Amazon format. (The code is actually a lot like EPUB code.) MOBI is not an acronym. It's derived from the word mobile, which is a bit misleading, since EPUB and HTML also allow reading in mobile devices.

Less common formats include:

  • Fixed-layout format for EPUB and/or Kindle is a way to present graphic-heavy books like cookbooks on tablet readers, for EPUB or Kindle readers.
  • HTML for delivery on the web, or for creating EPUB files.

There are several other formats that you may come across, but they are either not widely used or are on their way out the door because they're used by e-reading devices that aren't sold any more. You shouldn’t focus on them at all, but if your distribution service provides them, all the better. If you use Smashwords for ebook aggregation, it will automatically create these "legacy" formats. Customers who own these old e-readers know they can purchase books there.

What's next?

Let's dive in and learn more about each of these formats. First, the PDF format for print books.