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Education (Lesson Planning Resources): Ebooks

eReader/eBook Compatibility

eBook Types Overview

eBook Types Overview

EPUB (.epub)

The most common type of ebook, EPUB files can be opened with almost any ebook reader, with the very important exception of Kindle. This format is highly flexible and can include interactive features— though not all devices and readers can support them. EPUB books come in two basic varieties:

  • Reflowable: Most EPUB files will fall into this category. A reflowable EPUB has many of the qualities people love about ebooks: the reader can control the font face, size, and color. Some ebook readers even let you add highlighting and notes.
  • Fixed layout: This type of EPUB was developed with visually-rich picture books and childrens' books in mind, where page layout is an essential part of the story. This means that the pages will mainly stay the same, and sometimes the reader cannot change the size of the text. These ebooks also need e-readers with color displays, such as an Apple iPad or a Nook Tablet. They also are often not compatible with smartphones—such as the iPhone—or black and white e-readers, such as the Nook Glowlight.

Apart from smartphones, tablets, and dedicated e-reader devices, EPUBs can also be read on computers using iBooks on Mac OS X, and Calibre for Mac, Windows, and Linux. There are even web browser-based epub readers, such as Google Play Books (you can upload your own epub files), and the browser add-on  Readium. If you want to create your own EPUBs, this can be done on a Mac with Apple Pages or iBooks Author*, or you can convert a Microsoft Word document to EPUB using Calibre.

* EPUBs made with iBooks author are compatible only with iPad and Mac— not iPhone, and not any non-Apple device.

Kindle Book (.mobi, .prc, .kf8, .azw, among others)

Kindle Books are a proprietary collection of ebook formats used in's Kindle Reader platform. While having similar features to EPUBs, Amazon Kindle ebooks can only be read with a Kindle reader: you have to use Amazon hardware or a Kindle app. Fortunately, Amazon has released Kindle reader apps for basically every computer and mobile device imaginable, including Mac, WindowsiOS, Android (which includes the Nook HD), Blackberry, and even the web-browser based Kindle Cloud Reader. Kindle books include many nice features, such as the ability to sync highlights & notes across devices, and its innovative reference tool X-Ray.

Portable Document Format (.pdf)

Ebooks can also be a .pdf file. There are some disadvantages, like not being able to size text or add interactive elements, but this is also a format that can be accessed on almost any type of device, be it a reader or a desktop.

Finding Free eBooks on the Web

Finding Free eBooks on the Web

Books Transformed to Video

Research on eBooks & Literacy

Finding eBooks Through Your Local Public Library

Finding eBooks through your Local Public Library

If you have an account with your local public library, you have may access to ebooks through Overdrive. Ebooks borrrowed through Overdrive can be read on nearly every device. For more information about how to use the website or app see Overdrive's website.