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eBook Glossary for Self-Publishers

All Things eBook

Below you will find Terms and Definitions used in discussing and developing eBooks.


Adobe Digital Editions: Free application for PC and Mac computers in which you can read and manage EPUB and PDF eBooks, either unprotected or with Adobe DRM.

Adobe DRM (Adept): Most common DRM system for EPUB and PDF files. Used, among others, by Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Sony e-bookstores.

Android: Developed by Google. Operating system of many mobile devices, smartphones, and tablets, including Kindle Fire, Nook Color, and Kobo Vox.

Backlight (Backlit) Screen: A type of the display that produces a visible image thanks to a source of light placed behind it. Used in computers, televisions, and tablets.

Calibre: Popular application for file conversion (EPUB«»MOBI) and management of eBook collections.

Cloud: Technology that stores users’ eBooks on a server of a provider. Thanks to that, the user can access them from any device and have them instantly synced.

DRM (Digital Rights Management): System designed to protect eBook files from opening by unauthorized users or on unauthorized devices. You can’t read a Kindle eBook on Nook or a Nook eBook on Kindle, because they have different DRMs.

eBook (E-book, Ebook): Electronic book; a book-length publication in digital form. It is a digital file, which may consist not only of text and pictures, but also video and audio elements. Still confused by with e-reader by many users.

E Ink: Electrophoretic ink; a special type of e-paper, developed and manufactured by E Ink Corporation.

Enhanced eBook: Electronic book with added audio, video, and other elements, which let users interact with content. Usually, enhanced eBooks are sold as standalone book applications

E-paper (ePaper, Epaper): Electronic paper; a range of displays that are designed to resemble the look of ink on a paper. E-paper screen doesn’t emit its own light, it doesn’t cause eye strain, and it lets you read books in daylight.

EPUB (ePub, epub): Most popular type of a file format in which eBooks are prepared. Text in EPUB files can be optimized for a specific device. You can change font size and typeface. The file extension is .epub.

E-reader (eReader, Ereader): Electronic reader; electronic device designed specifically to read eBooks. The most popular e-reader is Kindle.

Frontlight (frontlit) Screen: To illuminate this screen, the source of light is placed around it. Thanks to that, reading on an E Ink e-reader can be possible even in poor light conditions.

iBooks: Application for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch for reading and buying eBooks from iBooks Store.

iBooks Store: E-bookstore run by Apple. It can be accessed either from iBooks or iTunes.

iOS: Operating system of mobile devices from Apple: iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.

iPad: A popular tablet produced by Apple.

iTunes: Application by Apple for Mac and PC computers that gives access to music, books, podcasts, and videos.

KF8 (Kindle Format 8): A new eBook file format from Amazon, replacing MOBI. It allows to develop much more complex and interactive eBooks.

Kindle: Brand of e-reader from Amazon. Kindle e-readers were launched in 2007 and quickly became synonymous with e-readers.

MOBI (Mobipocket): A type of a digital file format, which can be read on Kindle e-readers. The file extension is .mobi.

Nook: The brand of e-readers, tablets, and applications from Barnes & Noble.

pBook (P-book, Pbook): Print book; a book-length publication in print format. Used mainly when print and digital books are compared to each other.

PDA: Personal digital assistant; also patron-driven acquisition.

PDF: An eBook file format with a fixed layout, text, and graphics. A newer version is PDF reflowable, where text can be optimized for a specific device. This is especially helpful for small-screen devices like smartphones.

Tablet: Multi-purpose mobile device with a color LCD screen, operated by a touchscreen.

Text-to-speech (TTS): A technology that converts written text into speech, using a voice synthesizer.

Touchscreen: Type of an electronic display that lets you operate a device by touching a screen with fingers.

Unicode: An encoding system that gives a unique identity to each character, “no matter what the platform, no matter what the program, no matter what the language.”  Unicodes are required to indicate diacritics to create an eBook.

Unprotected file: An eBook file that doesn’t have DRM. For example, an unprotected EPUB file can be read on any device or application that reads EPUB format.