ot everyone wants to read books in the fluid eReader format. They want their books to look like . . . books . . . but ones that can still be read on a computer. Most of the computer-based versions of eReaders offer something the hand-held readers do not -- the option of reading in PDF format. PDF files look almost identical to a book because they are taken from files created for the print market.

Formatting for PDF

Books destined for computers that read PDfs are first created with the same formatting and software used to create print books. If you want to limit your market to the print and PDF market, it isn't necessary for the artist to keep track of punctuation marks that may "fall out" in eReader formats (except for Mobipocket). You can also use images, in color or in grayscale, and not have to worry about them being too small or fuzzy for optimal viewing, although large or color images do affect download and display speed.

Mobipocket PDF files do not retain fancy formatting. This problem can be viewed in the Mobipocket version of the downloadable story. The color image was deleted and the drop cap at the beginning of the story is out of place and too small. The paragraph indent and spacing between paragraphs is uneven. The Garamond font defaulted to Arial. In all the other readers, this file displays correctly. If you want your PDF files to look great in all eReader computer formats, files destined for Mobipocket should be formatted separately from the other PDF files. A separate download button should be provided for that file. I suppose you could supply the same file for Mobipocket because its readers are probably used to these quirks.

PDF files created for the print market will be of a higher quality than PDF files created for reading on a computer because it's necessary to keep the file size as small as possible to eliminate long download times. Keep the number of images in a book to only what is necessary, make them a medium resolution or reduce their size. Large files take a very long time to download, especially for those people with dial-up connections. Let your artist know if you need both print and eReader PDF files.

Books in PDF formats are purchased by libraries for digital check out.

Advantage of PDF Files for Computer Reading

Fancy formatting, beautiful fonts, color images, detailed artwork -- within reason, all are possible in the PDF format. PDF files can also be read on three of the biggest computer-based eReaders -- Adobe Digital Editions, Barnes & Noble Nook for PC, and Mobipocket Reader. They can also be read on the Adobe Reader, which is already available on most computers.

All computer versions of eReaders are free at this time.

Disadvantage of PDF Files for Computer Reading

Your potential market is much smaller than if you create books for eReaders. At this time, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Sony do not offer PDF versions of books. You will either have to find a book seller that does offer PDF files or offer it on your own website. Your marketing efforts are going to be more extensive and expensive, but since you're saving money on printing, you could have some extra cash to send out marketing materials.

Even PDF files that have few images can take a long time to download.


I have written a short story saved in ePub format. It can be viewed on Adobe Digital Editions, Barnes & Noble Nook for PC, Mobipocket, or Sony Desktop Reader. "Save" the file to a folder or drive on your computer.

download a short story


To open in Adobe Digital Editions, click on the downward arrow to the right of "Library" and select "Add Item to Library." Navigate to the file location and double click the file name. The story will appear in your Library list. Either double click the story icon or click on the right-facing arrow in the upper left corner of the icon and click Open Item.

To delete the book, be in the Library view and click on the right-facing arrow next to the book name and then click Delete Item.

download adobe digital editions


To open in Barnes & Noble Nook for PC, click on My Library > My Stuff > Add New Item. Navigate to the file location and double click the file name. A message of "Copied ... to your locker" will pop up after a successful load. Double click the book icon or click on Options > Read Now.

To delete a My Stuff book, close the Nook for PC. On your Desktop, click on My Computer > My Documents > My Barnes & Noble eBooks. A window with a folder with your email address and a list of My Stuff book files will open. Click on the book and click Delete.

download the barnes and noble desktop reader


To open in Mobipocket, click on Import > EPUB Document. Navigate to the file location and double click the file name. The file will open on your screen as "Now Reading." If you want to open a different file, click on the eBooks button under Bookshelf.

To delete a book, click on the eBooks button, right click on the book cover and choose Delete.

download the mobipocket reader


To open in Adobe Reader, navigate to the file location and double click the file name.

To delete, navigate to the file location, highlight the file, and press Delete.

download Adobe Reader