How to Open Ebook Files

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Ebooks are gaining a larger market share every year. Ebook files are all over the place. Has it ever happened to you that you had an ebook but didn’t have the right software to open it? Here is a cheat-sheet of the most popular ebook formats and the various ways to open them.

Open Formats

.epub
It is based on the XML format. You can open it either with the ePub Reader add-on for Mozilla Firefox and also with Magic Scroll and Readium — both Google Chrome extensions.

.djvu
A smaller file size alternative to PDF. You can open it either with a browser plugin or with a standalone program. There are several free programs available for this purpose at DjVu.org or here, here, and here.

.pdf
It is probably the most well-known ebook format. It is based on PostScript. You can open it with any number of PDF readers, most well known among them being Adobe Reader and Foxit Reader.

.fb2
A fiction book format popular mostly in Russia. You can open it with FB Reader that is available as an add-on for Mozilla Firefox or as a standalone software program.

.txt
This is a plain-text file. You can open it with any text editor. It is used mainly within the Gutenberg project which digitizes books in the public domain.

Proprietary Formats

.mobi
Created by MobiPocket which was acquired by Amazon in 2005.

.azw
The proprietary Amazon Kindle format that came out in 2007. You can open it with the Kindle Reading App.

.chm, .doc, .docx, .rtf
These are Microsoft’s help file and document formats which are sometimes also used for ebook purposes. You can open them in Wordpad, Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, or LibreOffice. You can open CHM files with Sumatra PDF for example.

Free Ebook Readers

Sumatra PDF
Opens the epub, djvu, pdf, mobi, and chm formats, among others.

Calibre
Opens the epub and azw formats.

Cool Reader
Opens the epub, fb2, and chm formats, and more. It is available for Windows, Android and Ubuntu Linux users.

Okular for Linux
Opens the epub, djvu, pdf, mobi, chm, and comic book formats, and more.

Apple iBooks
Opens the epub, pdf, and Apple’s proprietary iba ebook formats. Comes bundled with iOS and is available for free for OS X.

Final Thoughts

It is noteworthy that ebooks are available both for free and for sale. In the commercial world ebook reader tablets are quite successful, with Amazon Kindle owning 55% of the global market, the Canadian Kobo coming in second at 20%, Barnes & Noble third with 10%, and Sony fourth with a 6% market share.

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