The advent of the standard EPUB ebook format meant that it was just a matter of time before PDF ebooks would fade away. But, hey, not so fast.
Nate Hoffelder just highlighted a report that Kobo has told its customers that they will soon stop supporting PDF ebook distribution. Meaning, it seems, that Kobo will delete PDFs from users’ bookshelves in November.
That’s a business decision on Kobo’s part, not taken lightly. For our part though, eBooks.com is still very keen on PDF ebooks.
A significant number of small to mid-sized publishers, especially scholarly publishers, still only release ebooks in PDF. So Kobo’s decision might disadvantage those publishers or their readers. Or perhaps it will propel them to upgrade their workflows and start generating EPUBs.
But there’s an important issue here which was highlighted by the angry response to O’Reilly’s recent decision to stop selling ebooks from their site: Texts that are rich in graphic elements, tables, obscure characters, mathematical formulae, etc. often render badly in EPUB. The opposite is the case with PDF. A PDF ebook looks for all the world just as the book designer meant it to be.
For a novel or biography this might be of little concern. But for a more complex book it can be critical.
The design and layout of codex pages evolved over a thousand years. Stylistic elements, special fonts, the positioning of captions and sidebars … all these things can form part of the actual message. There may come a time when the EPUB format or its successor can respect the careful thought that book designers put into making a page, but we’re just not there now.
At eBooks.com we urge publishers, especially non-trade publishers, to send us a PDF if they have one, along with the EPUB format. Send us both if you can. We let the customer choose which format they want. We continue to sell thousands of PDF ebooks day in, day out.