What's an ePub?
An ePub is a type of e-book. With most e-books, such as Amazon's Kindle books, iBooks from Apple or even books from Kobo, you never usually have to worry about what format they're in. They just appear on your e-reader, mobile app or tablet after you've bought them.
But, if you buy e-books from independent or niche shops and need to move them to your reading device, you'll need to know what format to use. Many of these shops will provide a selection of files with every purchase, others will ask you to choose one particular format.
When choosing what format to buy from an e-bookshop, you'll usually have a choice between ePub or Mobi.
- If you have a Kindle, choose the Mobi format.
As well as its own Amazon-only format, the Kindle can also display Mobi files.
- If you have any other reading device, choose ePub.
Almost every e-reader and e-book app, other than Kindle, can display ePub files.
About the ePub format
How do I read my e-book?
You can read an e-book on a huge variety of devices.
First, you need to get your ePub or Mobi file on to the device you want to read it on. This usually involves connecting your device to the computer you downloaded the book to, using an USB cable, and then moving the book file to the correct place on your device. E-reading devices vary, so here are some starting points for the most popular ePub ones:
Next, you'll need some software to open and display the book. If you're using a dedicated e-reader, like a Kindle, Kobo, Nook or Sony Reader, you'll able to read your book immediately. Otherwise, you'll need to find some suitable software.
Here is an extensive list of software to suit whatever device you may be using:
DRM, or Digital Rights Management, is a way of locking down an e-book to only work on a particular device. The main reason given by publishers is to protect against piracy. This may sound quite innocent and sensible, but does raise a number of consumer rights issues.
If you've bought a number of DRM'd e-books for a particular device, such as a Kindle, you can't take those books with you if you decide to switch to another device, such as Kobo. The books you have already bought are locked to the Kindle. You will have to buy new copies of each book to read on your Kobo. In effect, you don't really own e-books locked with DRM - you only licence them.
Fortunately, not all e-books are locked with DRM. Many publishers and authors choose to sell e-books that are DRM-free. With DRM-free e-books, no matter what device you choose to use, you'll always be able to read the books you have bought.
There are a number of online bookshops that sell DRM-free e-books: