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MOBI versus EPUB: Things to Consider When Self-Publishing Your E-book

kindle-direct-publishingby Holly Monty

Self-publishing book authors are confronted with a wealth of information about how to self-publish their books. One decision a self-publisher needs to make is whether to self-publish an e-book version and, if so, where.

Kindle is a must for all self-publishers. Kindle books (in their corresponding MOBI format) are exclusively sold and distributed by Amazon. A self-publisher can upload a preformatted MOBI file through CreateSpace, Amazon’s self-publishing portal. Alternatively, many services can distribute and sell your EPUB files for non-Kindle devices, such as Nook.

Although CreateSpace and many other e-book distribution sites offer a la carte publishing services, a self-publisher should consider hiring freelancers to edit the book, create a cover design, index the books (if desired), and format the books into MOBI and EPUB files that are upload-ready. A self-publisher will find that freelancers’ rates are often competitive with e-book distribution service rates for similar tasks, and a self-publisher will get more individualized attention from a freelancer than he or she may receive from a large-market a la carte service catering to hundreds of clients a week.

A good freelancer who specializes in self-publishing will be able to optimize your text for the e-book environment (which differs in many ways from preparing text for print). You can depend on a self-publishing freelancer to guide you through the process, but some things to consider if you decide to self-publish your book as an e-book include the following:

1. You will need to obtain ISBNs. These can be purchased individually or in sets. Keep in mind that you will need one ISBN for each version of your book, for example, print hardback, print softcover, and EPUB. You will not, however, need an ISBN for MOBI/Kindle—because MOBI is only distributable through Amazon, there is no need to assign this version a unique market identifier.

2. You should ensure that your MOBI or EPUB file is properly coded to allow for white and black background reading and will allow users to adjust spacing and font size. If your files are not coded to allow these user-directed changes, they may be rejected for publication or removed from distribution.

3. You should also ensure that your MOBI or EPUB file has a navigational table of contents. This is not simply a table of contents at the beginning of the book that is linked to chapters and sections, although such a table of contents is also important. Rather, a navigational table of contents will show up in an e-reader’s “Table of Contents” menu and is a feature expected by most readers these days. Again, an improperly created navigational table of contents may result in your book being rejected for publication.

4. Kindle/MOBI is more restrictive in design than EPUB. Kindle gives readers a choice between two fonts and only allows for certain serif/sans serif fonts. It is also more restrictive in displaying decorative elements. You should therefore consider having two different designs created for your e-books: one for MOBI/Kindle and one for EPUB, the latter of which can be a bit more “fancy.”

Of course, any freelancer you choose to help you in editing and formatting your book for e-book publication should also be able to produce beautiful and professional print layouts that are ready for upload to your choice of publish-on-demand service.


An expert working with book formatting, Holly Monty helps to transform text into stylistically correct files.

 

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