Why do we offer e-books and not PDFs?

English PEN has now published four e-books on our website, with more planned in the future.  We are delighted to be able to put more literature into the world, especially when it comes from people who may not otherwise have a voice.

A readers have asked us why we provide these texts as e-books, not PDFs.   The priority we give to Kindle and EPUB formats is quite considered.

We want to disseminate the books as widely as possible, and e-book formats that are designed to be read on, or by, machines makes our publications more accessible.  We’ve heard from those who like reading in large type, or who use assistive technology (for example, the device reads the words out loud) that e-book formats are preferable to other document formats.

E-book formats are smaller, too – a matter of Kilobytes, not Megabytes.  This is not much of an issue for the person downloading, but for any organisation providing the files, bandwidth is something to consider.  When we are providing hundreds of copies of our e-books, it sensible and cost effective for us to choose file sizes that are an order of magnitude smaller.

Kindle and EPUB formats have emerged as industry standards and are widely deployed.  If this changes in the future, we will certainly try to provide other formats, too (let us know in the comments if you think we are behind the technology curve).

You can download free software that reads e-books, and Kindle applications are available for tablet devices.  While this may be an extra step between you and the reading matter, it means you will be able to read other e-books too!

Adobe Digital Editions is a free option.  This is a popular choice because most people are already familar with Adobe acrobat, for reading PDFs.   Calibre is also free.  It is a more complicated application, but it does allow you to convert files between popular e-book formats, which many people find useful.

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