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Library - Online Books Guide: Online Book formats

This guide will help you find e-books and use them on a device of your choice.

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1. Mobile devices

2. Computers

3. Dedicated devices

e-Book Solutions

Bridging the gap between the eBook reader you have and the eBook content you want to use often requires a software middleman

Here are some of the most common free software solutions:

  • Adobe Digital Editions
    Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) is an eBook management system, providing a way to organise and access your eBook library. It is also a core player in the eBook ecosystem of publishers, sellers and libraries. You will need to download and install the freely available ADE software before you can download and borrow most library eBook content. (PDF and HTML file formats excluded.)
  • BlueFire Reader
    For Apple, IPad and IPhone users who don’t choose to download the IBooks app. Bluefire Reader works with DRM-equipped Adobe eBooks, in both PDF and EPUB formats.
  • Calibre
    Calibre is a widely-used, open source option for converting between eBook formats.
  • Stanza
    Another freely-available eBook management system for Apple products.

e-Book formats

eBooks come in many formats. These are some of the most popular formats:

  • PDF (.pdf)  - A very popular eBook format from Adobe which most eReaders support. 
  • EPUB (.epub) - An open eBook standard created by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF). It features reflowable text, inline images and the ability to use Digital Rights Management (DRM) such as Adobe Digital Editions.
  • Kindle (.azw) - Native format for Amazon's Kindle products which typically comes with DRM protection to limit sharing.
  • MobiPocket (.mobi) - A format primarily designed for PDAs and older mobile devices. Also used on the Kindle.
  • Text (.txt) - A basic plain text format which is easy to create, but cannot contain images.


The e-book formats and devices tab was adapted from NWU e-book LibGuide. 

e-book Devices & formats

E-book Formats for Popular E-readers and Apps by Amanda Tarbet is licensed
under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.