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Difference Between EPUB, MOBI, AZW and PDF eBook Formats

Digitalization is taking over today’s world at a very fast pace.Books that used to be the major source of knowledge are now turning into e-books!

E-books or online books and other soft material can be convenient to  carry and are also very handy.

Earlier,you could carry only one or two hard copies of books with you,but now because of the availability of e-books, we can carry an entire library with us in our smart phone or tablets or any other compatible devices.

I know,some hard core book lovers or bookworms would disagree over the fact of convenience of soft copy of a book over a hard copy.

This is because,for book lovers it is not just a book,it’s a whole different world where they usually live in.

But as we all know,we must keep in pace with the growing technology,and for this to accomplish,we all have started inclining towards e-books.

E-books come to us in various formats,and along with these formats the features change and so does the compatibility with certain devices.

The basic formats in which e-books are available are EPUB,MOBI,AZW and PDF.

Let’s have a brief look into each of these separately:


1.      EPUB: EPUB as we know is one of the most preferred formats for e-books.This format is preferred as it is supported by most of the devices and platforms.There exist more that 300 platforms and devices which support EPUB formats.

However,it is sad to know that Amazon Kindle doesn’t support EPUB.

International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), which is a global trade and standards organization,maintains the standard for EPUB formats.

The content in the EPUB format is dynamic i.e it can be adjusted according to any device and also can change it’s layout depending on the device.

Also the EPUB format files are ‘Open Standard’ i.e they are available and accessible for free! Although you are bound by some rules for using their services, but it’s fair on their part,isn’t it?


2.     MOBI: MOBI is the lesser heard of formats among the e-book readers.MOBI is a free software that serves as an e-book reader.

It was launched in the year 2000 by a French company ‘Mobipocket SA’ and was later taken over by ‘Amazon’ in 2005. You need to use a Mobipocket e-reader to make use of the MOBI format files. These files are saved with a .prc or .mobi extension.

The files in MOBI are also flexible i.e can be changed and used by adjusting the content as per the layout of the device. If you anytime wish to sell your books on Amazon, always prefer the MOBI format.


  1. AZW: After taking over ‘Mobipocket’ in the year 2005, Amazon felt the need to create and launch it’s own format. Thus, AZW is just a plus version of the MOBI format. The MOBI allows the use of JavaScript while AZW does not. All files having a .prc extension are fully functional on Amazon Kindle devices. Also, one more difference between the two is that AZW uses an asterisk sign for the serial number while MOBI uses a dollar sign for the same.

One thing worth noting is that since AZW is an Amazon format, Amazon Kindle only supports only the files which are in AZW format.


  1. PDF: Almost everyone of us uses this file format on a daily basis,but hardly any of us know that It’s an abbreviation for ‘Portable Document Folder’. It is a pet format for Adobe and became a open format in 2001. It is the most popular file formats due to it’s great number of features allowing users to save,edit and secure their data and files. The key feature of PDF is that it even allows you to save a webpage in PDF format along with it’s images and graphics retained!

This image and graphics retention is true for all types of files and not just webpages .PDF files are safe and digitally signed, and thus making them one of the most secure file formats for reading digitalized data/files.


Due to the increased popularity of PDF format, people often consider them to be the same as e-books. However, e-books are the digital files while PDF is a type of e-book.

The need for this kind of formats for reading and documenting arose in the early 1990’s. Amazon and MOBI have a well placed position in the documentation domain. Along with these two, EPUB stands shoulder-to-shoulder to maintain it’s position in the same domain. PDF though,does well as it gives direct competition to the whole world’s favorite, AMAZON!



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