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Old 05-02-2010, 06:59 AM   #1
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Question Mobi vs. ePub

Is there any difference between ebooks in Mobi format, compared with those in ePub? I don't mean the really technical details of how they are created, I'm just curious as to whether there is any difference from the consumers' point-of-view?

Is one superior to the other? If so, in what way(s)? If not, why not? Actually, the latter probably doesn't matter. What about throwing Adobe Digital Editions PDFs into the mix? Not ones you've created yourself; I mean the PDFs available from ebook retailers like ebooks.com etc.

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Old 05-02-2010, 07:36 AM   #2
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ePub allows for "richer" formatting. You can, for example, have things like "drop caps", pictures with text that "flows" around them, or embedded fonts, none of which Mobi supports.

The primary benefit though is simply that ePub is an open standard, while Mobipocket is "owned" by Amazon. That means that there's a much wider range of tools available to create ePub books, and stores from which to buy them.
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Old 05-02-2010, 07:48 AM   #3
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This consumer was happy with mobi and is very angry at being forced to abandon it due to Amazon's policy and the lack of availability of new e-books in mobi format (unless of course you own a Kindle and live in the US). I don't like epub much, though it may be more due to the faults of reader software than any problem with the format as such.

There is too much formatting, in my opinion, included in the epub format and that cannot be overridden, at least in the version of ADE that comes with my Cybook Opus. So I've been reading books in a font that is harder to read than the font I was using before when I was reading mobi books on the Cybook. On the mobi version of the Cybook firmware, all I had to do was change the font in the settings menu and that applied to all books I read. I can't do that on the epub version. If I want to change the font I'd have to change the book's coding somehow.

I have been converting my mobi books to epub format using Calibre, and not paying much attention to the formatting options, which probably accounts for some of my frustration: the mobi books I have were produced by people who knew what they were doing, and the epubs were converted by me and probably done badly. Still, I can't help feeling I wouldn't have all these problems if the formatting options were left to the settings of the reader software, instead of hard-coded in the books.
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Old 05-02-2010, 12:37 PM   #4
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See A Comparison of format limitations based on The Hobbit. A single book, like the Hobbit, can't cover all the differences. However, many ebooks from US publishers are almost identical in MOBI and ePub format (because their ebook formatting procedure was originally targeted at MOBI and LIT, with LIT being largely replaced by ePub but without using the additional capabilities of ePub). In Europe and the UK, ebooks start out as ePub and the MOBI (AZW for the Kindle) version can have formatting artifacts due to MobiPocket's sub-standard ePub to MOBI conversion capability.

When I have a choice, I still buy and download AZW/MOBI and then convert it, via Calibre, to ePub because a MOBI typically does not have the heavy handed formatting that some ePubs can be burdened with. This obviously only works with most ebooks if you are willing to strip DRM.

PDF isn't a good choice for ebooks on handheld devices because Adobe Digital Editions reflow capability fails too often and at best it only renders one physical page at a time (so you often get a partial screen at the end of the page).
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Old 05-02-2010, 12:44 PM   #5
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well.. it's a bit technically .. but basically a epub book is a zip file that contains images and the text is a html file.. so I guess it's easier for content creators
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Old 05-02-2010, 12:57 PM   #6
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Most appearance diferences between ePUB and Mobi are actually differences in the reading software. For instance, the same font looks different in the Cybook firmwares 1.5 and 2.0, because one uses Mobipocket's and the other uses Adobe's engine.

In my opinion, ePUB is superior to Mobi because it's more versatile, it's easier to convert/modify, it's an open standard and everything that can be done in Mobi can be done in ePUB too. But in particular cases, for a given book, or for a given device, or for a given user, Mobi could be more convenient.
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Old 05-02-2010, 03:22 PM   #7
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Speaking of the differences from the consumer's point of view, the current situation is that one specific implementation of ePub, Adobe Digital Editions, is widely deployed on eInk devices. Adobe's own DRM scheme, hence, is available on a number of different platforms, giving consumer (still limited) choice when it comes to platform, and if he is unwilling to remove the DRM.

Both mobi and ADE (ePub and PDF) DRM schemes are deployed by the public libraries, but it seems that lately the number of ePub/PDF titles growth is stronger than that of mobi titles.
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Old 05-03-2010, 01:11 AM   #8
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Positional resolution is better in epub than in mobi, both horizontally and vertically.
"yes, but how do you position things with reflow in mind?"
"by using relative metrics instead of absolute."

Also, Kindles come with 1 font. epub allows embedding of fonts, for those who like that sort of thing.

And, tho not currently not well defined (and therefore not yet implemented/implementable), epub will eventually allow for multimedia, like sound, animation, movies, smellavision, etc. Mobi's development is basically dead-ended, so what you can currently do is all you'll probably be able to do.

-b
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Old 05-03-2010, 05:47 AM   #9
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I hate it when tech companies unnecessarily refuse to come up with a common standard. VCR vs Betamax, DVD-R vs DVD+R, Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD. Just ego clashes left and right and the only one who suffers is the consumer. Just ask the poor fools who paid good money to buy a HD-DVD player that was obsolete within months of being launched.

Is there any good ereader that can just read both Mobi and ePub? From what I understand, DRM issues prevent that, right?
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Old 05-03-2010, 05:54 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by afa View Post
I hate it when tech companies unnecessarily refuse to come up with a common standard. VCR vs Betamax, DVD-R vs DVD+R, Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD. Just ego clashes left and right and the only one who suffers is the consumer. Just ask the poor fools who paid good money to buy a HD-DVD player that was obsolete within months of being launched.

Is there any good ereader that can just read both Mobi and ePub? From what I understand, DRM issues prevent that, right?
There is no ereader that can read Mobi with Amazon DRM and epubs with another DRM. Amazon prevents the use of the mobi reader, which they own, with someone else's DRM.

FBreader can read non-DRMed mobi and is not owned by Amazon, so it can co-exist with ADE and the Adobe DRM on the same reader. The Pocketbook 360 has that: you can read epubs (including with Adobe DRM, I think) with ADE and Mobi (without DRM) with FBreader. However FBreader has some rather big faults, I personnally don't like it at all and it's one of the reasons I gave up on the Pocketbook and bought an Opus instead.
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Old 05-03-2010, 08:41 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlorenceArt View Post
There is no ereader that can read Mobi with Amazon DRM and epubs with another DRM.
That's not strictly true. There's no device which can read both simultaneously, but Bookeen's devices offer two firmware versions, one of which can read ePub DRM and the other Mobi DRM, and it takes only a couple of minutes to switch between them.
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Old 05-03-2010, 05:21 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by afa View Post
Is there any difference between ebooks in Mobi format, compared with those in ePub? I don't mean the really technical details of how they are created, I'm just curious as to whether there is any difference from the consumers' point-of-view?
If you haven't checked out wallcraft's excellent format review, I strongly recommend doing so. LOTR books are to date one of the better formatted ebooks out there. There you can do a visual inspection as to which book format looks better for you. Also you can also run this check on your PC.
If you go to FeedBooks you can download both an ePUB and MOBI version of the same book and see which format you like most.


Quote:
Originally Posted by afa View Post
Is one superior to the other? If so, in what way(s)? If not, why not? Actually, the latter probably doesn't matter. What about throwing Adobe Digital Editions PDFs into the mix? Not ones you've created yourself; I mean the PDFs available from ebook retailers like ebooks.com etc.

I'd really like to see the ePUB format win out, but right now it is just too green for me to use.

For starters, I find features like, highlighting, annotation, and dictionary support to be extremely important for reading. ePUB to date does not have any support for these features, MOBI does. The good news is there is works to add support in the future versions, but that is not today.

Second while the format support in ePUB is richer than MOBI, it is only slightly better than MOBI but way inferior to PDF. If typography is the most important feature then one is better off buying PDFs.



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Old 05-03-2010, 08:45 PM   #13
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Epub seems a better format with a more open standard than prc/mobi, a useful feature for me is the table of contents linking that is lacking in prc/mobi. But given I read on a Windows Mobile phone I have found there is a lack of good epub reader software, although my experience is limited to Chinese books in utf-8 encoding.

The Mobipocket reader opens and browses prc books much faster and is more stable than the epub readers I've tried (Freda, Zulu) with epub books. This will probably change in the future when epub software catches up to the format's capabilities, but in the meantime prc/mobi works well for me.

Note that I make the epub and prc/mobi books myself from the same html source, so the two books are as identical as can be.
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Old 05-04-2010, 05:06 AM   #14
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For starters, I find features like, highlighting, annotation, and dictionary support to be extremely important for reading. ePUB to date does not have any support for these features, MOBI does. The good news is there is works to add support in the future versions, but that is not today.
With respect, those are primarily features of the reading device, not of the format. Eg, both the Sony PRS-600 and the BeBook Neo support all those features for ePub files.
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Old 05-04-2010, 05:12 AM   #15
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Epub seems a better format with a more open standard than prc/mobi, a useful feature for me is the table of contents linking that is lacking in prc/mobi.
Can you explain what you mean by that? The Mobi file format certainly supports a linked table of contents.
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