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EBook Publishing

Should I use PDF or EXE format ?

Ebooks are becoming a fantastic method of promoting websites and retaining visitors and Michael Southon discusses the pros and cons of publishing ebooks using the most popular formats.

If you write and publish eBooks, sooner or later you will probably be faced with a dilemma — should you create your eBooks as .exe files or .pdf files?

PDF, which stands for Portable Document Format, is the file extension for files created with Adobe Acrobat.

Exe, which stands for ‘executable’, is the extension for files created by eBook compilers.

PDF is widely considered to be the ‘industry standard’ for eBook publishing, and for good reason. Here are some of the advantages of PDF files over exe files:

(1) With most eBook compilers you have to set up each page of your eBook as a separate web page. With Adobe Acrobat you can use a single MS Word file as the source document.
(2) PDF files automatically number each page — exe files don’t.
(3) PDF files are very easy to edit — you can insert pages, replace pages and delete pages (and the page numbering is automatically adjusted).
(4) Printing from a PDF file is much easier than printing from an .exe file.
(5) The ‘bookmark’ column on the left side of a PDF file makes navigation very easy — much easier than in an exe file.
(6) PDF files compress better than exe files, so you end up with a smaller, more manageable file.
(7) It’s virtually impossible to transmit a virus through a PDF file — exe files are susceptible to virus transmission and can become corrupted during download.
(8) Finally, by using PDF you automatically expand your potential market because PDF files can be read on both a PC and a Mac (exe files can only be read on a PC). Over 8 percent of the online population in the U.S. are currently Mac users ( — not a huge increase in your market, but nevertheless significant.

But exe files do have some advantages over PDF files. Until recently, one of the most important of these was price — most eBook compilers are a fraction of the cost of Adobe Acrobat.

However, a number of PDF creators have recently appeared on the market with price tags similar to those of eBook compilers. Here are some of them:

Another advantage of exe files over PDF is the rebranding feature. The following eBook compilers all have a built-in rebranding function:

If you use free eBooks as a viral marketing tool, rebranding is the key to success, because people are much more likely to promote your free eBook if they can customize it with their own affiliate links.