Amazon and its proprietary extension –.MOBI
Let us begin by understanding what an e-book is. An eBook is an electronic or digital version of a printed book. You can read these e-books either within a computer, a mobile device with eBook reader app or even a standalone reader.
With the internet taking over the globe by storm, the switchover from printed to digital books is not at all surprising. Large companies like Amazon jumped into the competition and came up with specific devices for facilitating e-book reading. This gave rise to the need for standard e-book formats to make the e-books compatible with specific device features.
The Advantages of Proprietary E-Book Format
Though Amazon is singled out for their proprietary e-book format, there are also other companies which have their particular e-book formats. These include Apple’s iBooks Author and Barnes & Noble’s proprietary format children’s books, just to name a few.
What is the reason behind the need to use a proprietary e-book format instead of using the open source EPUB standard? It is for the simple reason that the proprietary format gives superior results, and it works better.
Building one’s trademarked format gives the e-book retailer not only with the control over reading device or the reading system but also provides control over the code which has been loaded into the reading system. In this way, the retailers have significantly improved control over the functionality, features and the quality of reading experience, enabling them to incorporate innovative ideas to improve the reading experience further.
The EPUB and MOBI File Formats
EPUB File Format
EPUB – Electronic Publication is a free and open standard e-book file format having an extension .epub. This file format is published by International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), and users can download it to read on devices such as smartphones, computers, e-readers, and tablets. It can also be used with many software readers like iBooks on iOS and also Google Books on Android. The most widely supported XML-based vendor independent file format for e-books, the largest number of e-readers support EPUB.
An EPUB file, a zip archive, contains HTML files, CSS style sheets, images and other assets. This file also contains metadata.
- The first file in the zip archive must be a mime type file of ASCII file type.
- There also must be an META-INF directory which contains container.xml. This file is a pointer towards the file which defines the contents of the book – the OPF file.
- Other than these, some other files are NCX, OPF, CSS, XHTML and image files, which are located in a directory named OEBPS.
Most of the e-book readers support EPUB files; the major one’s being Barnes & Noble’s Nook and the Kobo e-reader. For reading EPUB files on Amazon’s Kindle, they have to be converted before they can be utilized.
Some free software programs can be employed for opening EPUB files on a computer. Some of this software includes Calibre, EPUB file reader, Adobe Digital Editions, Mobipocket Reader Desktop, Okular and many others available online.
Why Use EPUB Files?
There are many advantages and benefits to using EPUB file format as many e-book readers support it. Some of the major features of EPUB files that make them a preferred option are: –
- Can display reflowable content which means that it can adjust the presentation to fit onto the output device.
- Page Bookmarking
- Passage highlighting and notes
- Library storing books
- Digital Rights Management – EPUB can contain DRM as an optional level
MOBI File Format:
MOBI is the short form for Mobipocket e-book format which was bought by Amazon. E-books in this format have either .prc or .mobi extension. This e-book file format, which is one of the Open E-book Publication formats for the distribution of e-books, supports HTML. These files may also contain Digital Rights Management (DRM) copyright protection features. DRM features prevent the unauthorized viewing or copying of an e-book which is included in the MOBI file.
Why Use MOBI Files?
If you are a Kindle user, you are using the MOBI format for your e-books. The MOBI file format offers numerous advantages such as: –
- MOBI file formats are capable of displaying reflowable content and hence, adjust the display according to the output device. It can also display fixed width layout.
- MOBI format can process complex contents and includes advanced navigation controls
- This file format supports indexing.
- It has a high degree of compression due to which readers can add their pages, annotations, bookmarks, highlights, freehand drawings, corrections and notes in cases where the devices support these features.
- It can also include a dictionary.
MOBI and EPUB Compatible Devices
The EPUB format is supported by various devices and can be read on the largest number of e-book readers. They include Kobo e-Reader, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Amazon’s Kindle Fire (but not the standard Kindle), Sony Reader, BlackBerry devices, Apple’s iBooks app running on Macintosh computers and iOS devices, Google Books app running on Android and iOS devices, BeBook, Bookeen Cybook Gen3 with firmware v2 and above, COOL-ER, Aldiko, CoolReader, Moon+Reader, Okular, Mozilla Firefox add-on EPUB Reader and FBReader among others. The EPUB format is also used by Adobe Digital Editions for its e-books and with DRM protection which is provided by their proprietary mechanism – ADEPT.
MOBI file readers include the MobiPocket Reader. Popular e-readers like the Amazon Kindle and smartphones support the format. Some important free programs that can open the MOBI file formats are Calibre, Stanza Desktop, Sumatra PDF, FBReader, and Okular.
How To Convert MOBI To EPUB File Format
MOBI file format is supported only by Kindle, as it is not an open-source format. MOBI to EPUB conversion of the file makes it possible for users to read Kindle e-books on various other readers or transfer the MOBI books to other devices. Apparently, a conversion tool would be required for the same.
Method 1: Using Calibre to Convert MOBI to EPUB
Calibre is a powerful and popular free conversion software. You can use Calibre also to convert MOBI files to EPUB files. If you don’t have the software installed on your computer, download it and install.
- Add your books to Calibre by either clicking on “Add” or by just dragging your books to Calibre.
- On the top navigation bar click on the “Convert Books” button.
- Select MOBI as the “Input Format” on the top left the corner. In the “Output Format” in the top right corner select EPUB.
- Click the “OK” button to start the conversion.
- In the bottom right corner, the progress of the e-book conversion is displayed. When all the books are converted, the Job Counter becomes “0”.
Method 2: Free Online MOBI to EPUB Converters
Zamzar, a powerful online converter, allows the batch conversion of files from MOBI to EPUB format.
- Click “Select Files or URL to Convert” to add the files which you want to convert. You can also drag the MOBI files.
- In the “Choose the Format to Convert to” select EPUB.
- In the “Enter your e-mail address to receive converted files” enter your e-mail address.
- Click “Convert” to start the conversion process.
- When the conversion is over, Zamzar will send you a link in your e-mail. Click on the link to download your converted EPUB files.
Online MOBI to EPUB Converter
For the converting the MOBI files, you can use online MOBI to EPUB converters which are available for free. This free online converter also provides custom options for modifying the e-book title, author, encoding and font.
- Click on “Browse” and select the MOBI file that you need to convert.
- Once the file appears, Click “Convert.”Online Converter will start the automatic conversion of the file. Since the downloaded address of the converted file will be shown on the page after the conversion is complete, it is recommended not to close this page.
- The page will show the download link of the file, once the file is processed.
- Click the link to start the downloading of your EPUB file.
Desktop MOBI to EPUB Converter
- Download and Install the MOBI to EPUB converter.
- Run the MOBI to EPUB converter. Clicking the “Add” button on the top left corner to select the Mobi files.
- Start the conversion by clicking on the “Start” button on the lower right.
- Look for the converted EPUB books in the Output folder.
- Click “Browse” if you want to reset the location of the converted files.
File Format of the Future
The MOBI file format is an open standard for e-book publishing, which means it is free and is publicly available. It is cross-platform, and e-books, which are in this format, have an extension of .prc or .mobi. A file with .mobi extension is a MobiPocket e-book file which Amazon had acquired in 2005 and still owns it. However, since 2011, major eBook publishers have stopped extending support to MOBI files.
Since 2011, support for the MOBI file format has been discontinued. Though Amazon’s Kindle uses the MOBI file structure, these files possess different DRM scheme and also have a different file extension .azw.
On the other hand, the most commonly used file format is probably the EPUB. It is supported across almost all platforms and can be used by most e-readers including Apple’s iBooks, Adobe Digital Editions, Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Aldiko on Android.
Amazon Kindle is the only popular e-book reader who does not support EPUB files. The EPUB file format is an open e-book standard. A global trade and standards organization; IDPF maintains the EPUB standard. One of the most advantageous features of Mobi file format is that is displays reflowable content and fixed width layout.
Active efforts are on to bring the EPUB standard more in line with the prevailing web standards. This ongoing development would allow EPUB files to become as easy to use as any web page. Efforts are also on to make EPUB file formats work better for educational content.
Today publishers and content developers are putting in efforts to achieve a uniform display of ePub content in all the devices. Thus all these factors along with its versatility, accessibility through numerous devices and various other advantages have led to the EPUB becoming one of the most used e-book file formats. Given the complexity of conversion procedure, it is most advisable to turn to a professional eBook services company.