Ebooks: a quick introduction

In the past few years, the ebooks revolutionized the literary and editorial worlds. Right now publishing a book has never been this easy or this cheap. The future of reading is unclear: will the more traditional printed paper still prevail? Or will the digital? Will there be a balance between these two universes? Experts are divided on this matter, but the ebooks have undoubtedly gained a certain momentum. Will they keep going like this? Will they get better? To all these questions, we do not have an answer yet. However, what we can do right now is trying understanding what an Ebook is, briefly describe its birth and how and in what formats it can be read.

Nowadays almost any computer device provided with a controllable viewing screen (especially a touchscreen) can be used to download and read e-books. Every single laptop, smartphone, tablet or desktop personal computer is, at the same time, an e-books reader. But how did everything start?

The eBook’s journey
The idea of an e-book, namely an editorial publication that is available in digital form, is actually older than the average person would think. Believe it or not, the early implementations of a book that had to be turned into an electronic document took place in the first years of the 70s, while to see the first buyable electronic book reader we have to wait until 1992, when Sony presented one that could read e-books saved on CD. The 90s were fundamental years, because at the time Internet was starting to spread like wildfire.

Of course, different e-readers, and it is not much different right now, required different formats. The support of major software companies was fundamental to the proliferating of the e-books and Adobe, by introducing in 1993 the still so famous PDF format, was a pioneer in this matter. Indeed, it is no coincidence that today is still probably the most popular document format of all time. But the e-book market was still disunited and there was an undoubted lack of consensus. E-books readers were still too limited. Almost ten years later, however, Open eBook was developed, providing this way a format that authors and publishers could use to read and spread on more than one e-book reader. This format led later to EPUB, but we will talk about this later.

We have to wait for the year 2010 to see the e-books being distributed through their own underground and peculiar markets. E-book publishers started distribute literary works that were in the public domain, while at the same time rejected authors used this digital publishing to promote their works. Many statistics show that e-book reading is constantly growing. In 2014, 50% of American citizens had a personal e-reader or tablet.

So which are the most common eBook formats?

ePub
We already mentioned this one, it is a so called open format that was designed by the Open eBook Forum and later fostered and advanced by the International Digital Publishing Forum. It is based on XHTML and XML coding, like ODF, the default Open Office format, and DOCX, another XML-based format created for Microsoft Word to open file documents. Anyway, the ePub, at the time, was realized in the attempt to create a source that could be both a file format but also an end user format. It can be read, among other softwares, by Adobe Digital Editions and QuickReader, and almost any kind of computer devices, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Kobo Reader, and the Nook from Barnes & Noble, and Sony Reader. It can be read on Android devices as well if you download specific apps to do that.

AZW
The Amazon devices, on the other hand, have their own personal format, this is one of them. To put it simple, a MOBI format is a format that has a compression option that is high. Most interesting feature of this kind of format is that, because other Kindle apps have been made available for devices that are not a Kindle reader, AZW files can be used on all sorts of smartphones (iPhone, Android phones, and BlackBerry), whatever kind of computers (Mac and PCs) and on the most popular tablets (Android tablets, iPad and Windows 8 tablets as well).

It is a better format than a regular MOBI one, because that one has a limited amount of devices on which it is supported.

LIT
And lastly, the ebook format that was created and developed for the Microsoft Reader software. Unfortunately for Microsoft and all Windows Mobile devices users, the LIT format is no longer being developed starting by November 2011. Downloading of the software itself stopped around the end of August 2012. Of course it can still be used, but you are not able of adding potential new content.

In conclusion
It is safe to say that ebooks came a long way. Nowadays, they are common and they are due to become more and more popular every day. This is not necessarily a bad thing: experts say that the ebooks on the market will not ruin paper books sales, and that is because the two things, even if similar, are essentially different. What the an avid reader can do is pick the solution that matches better their needs. Sometimes not choosing is even better, though.

Our eBook Converter can convert most popular ebook file formats, you can use it to convert any of your eBook files to a format supported by your e-reader.

Everything to know about the WebM format

WebM is a video format that was popularized and distributed by Google in 2010. It has a twin, WebP, dedicated to images. It was primarily created to offer a royalty-free service alternative to other video files format. We know that it is based on Matroska, which is an open source, open standard and extensible multimedia container that, in  the future, will probably become the standard container for every format if it keeps expanding. Now, because WebM works with Matroska, it is able to supports very high quality videos, and it is even able to stream audio files, supporting Vorbis as well.

WebM format is supported by all most important browsers: Google Chrome of course, but also Mozilla Firefox, Opera and Internet Explorer. Safari, however, needs to have QuickTime to play web media files. In 2015, then, Microsoft released a statement announcing that the new Edge Browser present in Windows 10 operating system was going to support WebM files.

Something else to be noted is also that you can upload WebM video files on YouTube, which can never be taken for granted when talking about video files, even though it is probably the most important question to ask for someone who has the need to realize video files. Thankfully YouTube offers the chance to upload WebM videos in all the main resolutions (360p, 480p, 720p and 1080p).

Why pick WebM?
Well, as we already said, WebM is a format able to provide one of the best quality for video files. This however does not mean that to play these kinds of files you need special machines, you can use ones with low technical characteristics. Online streaming becomes extremely easy thanks to this, free, format.

Another important feature of this format is that WebM video files can be opened in every single most important media player, some of them for example being:

  • Media Player Classic;
  • VLC;
  • KM Player;
  • Windows Media Players;

What about other formats?
Of course there are a lot of video formats: flv, avi, even swf, the last one being a Shockwave Flash file format extension. It stands for Small Web Format and its files can generally contain video that are based on animations. To view swf files you need a browser that is provided with the opposite Flash plug in.

However, among the many formats, there is only one that can be even remotely compared to WebM. That format is Mp4, which is the most popular now, the one that almost anyone probably uses. The main difference between Mp4 format and WebM format is, first of all, in the video codecs that are used in the build of each. WebM format uses Vp8 codecs, that are, from a quality point of view, much better than the H.264 codecs used by Mp4. However, Mp4 has advantages in other fields, like the smartphones one. As a matter of fact, mp4 is supported by plenty of them, while WebM is limited to the Android operating system.

In conclusion:
To summarize the article, WebM format is ideal for online streaming, is royalty-free and provides great quality for the videos. Unfortunately, it is not as popular as other formats, but that can be solved only with time.

Our webm Converter allows conversion of webm files to many other video formats, you can use it to change the format of your webm files.

PNG, GIF, SVG and JPG: how do I pick one?

If you are not familiar with image file types, if you are like all those people who see the file extensions after the image’s file name and just quickly disregard it or ignore it, then this article might be helpful in understanding the differences between these image formats. However, you could be also someone who has very peculiar needs, maybe has to deal with both images and animations file formats daily.

As everything else in life, every single image format has both pros and cons to show. But they are pretty easy to be distinguished because each one of them was created for a specific purpose. The question we need to find an answer to is therefore: what is the difference between all of them? How do I know which one is the most appropriate format to use for what I have to do?

GIF, also known as Graphic Interchange Format
It is one of the oldest image format online. It has some features in common with JPG and PNG formats, but unlike those file it has a limited amount of colors. Only 256 actually. This means that the GIF format is not advisable for extremely colorful photos, obviously, because it does not have a good range of colors. However, the fact that GIF has not that many colors helps a lot in keeping the size of the file relatively small – that would explain why it is so popular on the Internet.

You can use the GIF format to create little icons or, like most people do, to create very simple animations.

JPG (or JPEG)
Someone refers to this format as JPG, someone else as JPEG. Both will work and are generally accepted. The acronym stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group and it is very different from the GIF format thanks to the millions of colors it can generate and display. This format is so popular that most digital cameras generate pictures that come out having this extension. Photographs as well like to use JPG most of the times because it gives you the chance to choose how much you actually want to compress a picture. However, when you want to edit the file and export it time and time again throughout the editing process, you end up losing a lot of the quality and that is not recommendable.

PNG
The PNG format (Portable Network Graphics) is almost like the child of JPG and GIF formats. Because you can use it for graphic purposes thanks to its transparency options like GIF, but it also displays millions of colors in its palette, just like JPG. PNG usually offers high quality for the pictures, but as a consequence it generates very large files. But if file dimension is not a problem, PNG is definitely to consider, even though it does not have an animation choice unlike GIF.

SVG
Last format to describe is the SVG format; also known as Scalable Vector Graphics. Now, this is an entirely different business when compared to the three formats already described above, and that is because it belongs to a different category. It is not bitmap kind of format, but a vector one, which is closer to Adobe Illustrator. However, it is not that impossible to embed bitmap graphics within the SVG file you have. It is more common that you would think.

SVG format can make your pictures look extremely beautiful on the Internet. However, it is not exactly that widespread among social media platforms, website providers and so on. Most of the times, your SVG images will be automatically converted to other formats or simply stopped while in the middle of the uploading process.

So basically it is a good format, but it still has to catch on the Internet. It might take some time; just keep an eye on it.

Conclusion: 
Because there are so many image formats and so many different necessities and demands, there will never be the perfect format to use that makes everyone happy. Our advice is to weigh down the pros and cons for every format and to pick the one that can satisfy your needs in the best way. Or just be patient and try every single one of them!

As always, you can use our Image Converter to convert your PNG, GIF, SVG and JPG files to lots of different image formats.

New website design and improved conversion backend

We’ve listened to your feedback and have a complete redesign of our website, we have added a lot of new features and are continuously trying to improve the file conversion service that we provide.

We now use HTTPS as default, which provides improved security,  also we have added a couple of new tools for PDF files, so you can now do various operations on your PDFs like split, compress, encrypt and decrypt. OCR conversion has also been added for converting scanned documents into searchable text.

We have also added a registration facility, so you can retrieve any converted files which haven’t yet expired or deleted, from your Dashboard page, which means if you’ve lost a link to a converted file then you might be able to get that link from your Dashboard.

The new website is mobile friendly, you can now convert your files from anywhere, we’ve also added a notification system, where you can provide an email address and once your files are converted an email will be sent to that address, so you no longer have to wait for your conversions to complete.

We are constantly improving our service, so any suggestions that you have are always welcomed.

Fixed broken video downloads and added descriptions for file formats

Hi,

Some video portal downloads were not working for some time, we’ve fixed them now and everything should be working again, however we’ve limited the support for the video portals but have most of the popular ones.

Also on the Supported Formats page, we’ve now added description about different file formats and their general uses, we hope that this information would be useful to our users.

Thanks,

FreeFileConvert