What is Conversion?
The term conversion refers to the process of taking a book that is in the form of a Word document, InDesign file, or PDF and making it into something that an eReader can display. The current file types that eReaders use are MOBI and ePUB.
ePUB – is your most important format! ePUB is an open industry eBook format. This is the format for Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, Diesel eBooks, and others. If your book is available in ePub, it can be read on the most popular eBook readers and eBook reading software applications (Like Stanza on the iPhone or Aldiko on Android devices).
DRM: The most popular DRM option for ePub files is Adobe Content Server, which is utilized by Sony, Barnes & Noble, and many other eBook stores. Apple's iBooks appplication (on the iPad) utilizes Apple's own Fairplay DRM, which is not compatible with any other eBook device or application.
Devices: ePub books can be read on Windows and Mac computers with Adobe Digital Editions; on the Barnes & Noble NOOK and NOOKcolor; on all of the Sony Reader devices; on the iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch in iBooks and in other apps; on the Android system in Aldiko and other apps; and on Linux computers and other handheld devices using software like FBreader. They can also be read online in Bookworm and in Ibis Reader, a very good web-based reading system that can be accessed by mobile phones and computers, and is designed to be used quite effectively on the iPhone and Android devices.
Mobipocket (Kindle) allows your books to be read on the Amazon Kindle, so this is an important format for you. Mobipocket is supported on many handheld devices and e-reading applications. Mobipocket is a requirement for distribution to Amazon.
DRM: The Mobipocket format allows books to be locked with Digital Rights Management (DRM) or not. When an encrypted file is downloaded from a retailer it is locked to the user's registered device. The Kindle uses the same DRM as the old Mobipocket format.
Devices: Kindle eBooks can be read on any of the Kindle devices, as well as in any of the Kindle Apps for PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Blackberry, etc.
PDF - Portable Document Format, or PDF, is a file format readable by most devices, including handheld e-readers, PDAs, and personal computers. It’s a good format if your work contains complex layout, charts or images. Odds are, if your work looks good in Microsoft Word it will look good in PDF. PDF is also a good option for readers who may want to print out your book on their home computers. On the negative side, PDF is a rigid, inflexible format because it’s not reflowable, so it’s horrible for reading novels. Your customers can’t easily change the font size or style to match their preferences, the text isn’t reflowable, and the reader is forced to read page by page.
Devices: PDF files can be read on most computer systems with Adobe Acrobat Reader or 3rd party programs like FoxIt Reader. They are also supported in Adobe Digital Editions, a free eBook library and reading program available for Windows and Mac machines. The Kindle DX and Sony's devices also support PDF files natively (without the need to convert the file), though the DX's larger screen and automatic rotation give a better reading experience.
Smashwords is not a distinct eBook format, per se, but it needs to be included in this list. The Smashwords website allows authors and publishers to upload a Word document that is then automatically run through the "Meatgrinder" to be converted into 10 eBook formats. The Meatgrinder is somewhat particular about how the Word file is formatted, so it is always best to give it a file that has already been cleaned up and formatted with the Meatgrinder in mind and according to the Smashwords Style Guide.
Note: Smashwords has some specific requirements for its eBooks, including changes to the copyright page, the addition of a license statement, and a separate ISBN. Without these and other issues addressed, an eBook will not be accepted into the Premium Catalog and cannot be distributed to other retailers like Sony and Barnes & Noble. Details can be found in the Style Guide.
DRM: Smashwords files are all DRM-free.