ePub vs. PDF | The Ultimate Comparison

Everything you want to know about ePub and PDF is here.

Sep 8, 2020 · 7 min read

Like the argument of “digital books vs. real books,” the comparison between PDF and ePub, the two most important digital formats, has never stopped.

This article is going to differentiate ePub and PDF and help you better use and read the two formats.

What Does PDF Stand for?

Reading PDF
Reading PDF. Source: https://unsplash.com/

The full computer term of PDF is Portable Document Format. Adobe developed it in the 1990s to show various contents, including texts, images, graphics, and interactive content, in a fixed format.

As it can show the same form in whatever device with software handling PDFs, many sectors (business, medicine, government and education) choose to present information in PDF, which is also a result of its security feature.

Owners can add dynamic watermarks, encrypt with DRM (Digital Right Management), set restricted use and expiry on PDF documents to protect their significant content from editing, forging, copying and other reproducing tricks.

What is ePub?

BOOX Poke3
BOOX Poke3

EPUB is an ebook file format displayed with the “.epub” file extension. The full term of ePub is Electronic Publication, or e-publishing files.

The most significant feature of ePub is its flexibility. Readers can read ebooks in ePub format with most of the hardware readers. They can also reflow them and change their typography, such as font family, font size, spacing and pagination.

Like PDFs, ePub materials support XHTML (Extensible HyperText Markup Language) as well, which means it can carry contents, images and other supporting files. Also, owners can use the DRM to protect their ePub data.

Critical Differences Between PDF and ePub

#1 Content Reflow

PDFs are in a fixed format and can be hardly changed, so it is not reflowable in many devices. This is to say, you cannot change its font size, typeface, pagination and text direction to match your display size.

You can only zoom in or out to see texts and image details. Because of its stable feature, you’ll either need a great PDF reader software or open it on a same-size (usually A4-size) device, such as BOOX Max Lumi or Sony DPT-1, to achieve a comfortable reading experience.

BOOX Max Lumi
BOOX Max Lumi
BOOX Max Lumi

Compared to PDF, ePub can fit perfectly into different-size screens and render the best readability after rearrangements to its presentation.

#2 Creating and Editing

Creating a PDF needs Adobe Acrobat’s PDF creator, while making an epub file requires you to acquire basic knowledge of coding or turn to some software for help.

It sounds that creating an epub is more complicated than PDFs. However, when it comes to editing, you may find it easier on e-publishing files if you are familiar with coding. You just need to modify their codes to change their content or layout.

If you want to edit the content of PDFs, you’ll need an Adobe subscription. But it doesn’t mean that you cannot annotate, ensign or highlight PDFs. You can do so with the help of some professional software.

#3 Rich Media

As ePub is used by many ebook publishers to present books, it is more capable than PDF in terms of displaying multimedia, such as videos, audios and other interactive content. Therefore, it can create a more varied reading experience for readers to help them comprehend the book content.

#4 Reading Device

PDF files can be read on many tablets and computers with the help of PDF reading software. Some ebook readers can also handle PDF files, including iPad, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, BOOX and Sony.

Reading with BOOX Note3
Reading with BOOX Note3

As for ePub, it is made for displaying ebooks, so most eReaders except for Kindle can support this format of digital books. You can also use some applications to open ePub files on laptops and tablets.

Is ePub or PDF Better? Best Book Format?

Both ePub and PDF can be used to show digital documents. Which is better for books? It depends.

As we’ve mentioned before, ePub is made for digital books. Many ebook publishers employ the electronic publication format to render rich reading experiences for readers. So you can find most of the ebooks are published with the “.epub” extension, especially young adult fiction, romance, light novels, and short stories.

PDFs are fixed, stable content, so a lot of articles, academic materials and non-fiction will use Portable Document Format to protect their content from reproduction. Also, most of the scanned digital materials are reserved in PDF.

Read Both ePub and PDF Comfortably with One Device

For users who read both ePub and PDF, reading documents without changing software on one device can be more convenient.

Onyx BOOX E Ink tablets readers can relieve your eyestrain and offer excellent capabilities for rendering contents in all kinds of formats, including PDF, ePub, MOBI, HTML, and DjVu, word, cbr, cbz and FB2.

BOOX 13.3’’ Max Lumi and 10.3’’ Note3 and Note Air can help you read letter-size PDFs comfortably without much scrolling, panning and pitching. The built-in NeoReader can help you reflow, change the display and contrast and remove watermarks of PDFs. You can also annotate and take hand-written notes on them.

BOOX Note Air
BOOX Note Air

Besides displaying PDFs, BOOX 7.8’’ Nova3 and 6’’ Poke3 at portable size are more suitable for reading reflowable ePub fiction and leisure reading materials.

When you read with Nova3, you can write on ePub books with the stylus, as you can do to PDF. When you use Poke2, you can highlight texts and annotate texts with typed words.

BOOX Nova3
BOOX Nova3
BOOX Nova3

Convert .epub to .pdf | Convert .pdf to .epub

If you need to convert ePub to PDF or vice versa, you can use Convertio. Convertio is an online free file converter that can help you convert ePub and PDF to whatever format you want. It can handle more than 300 forms and is easy and fast.

If you’re users of Kindle or other eReaders supporting limited formats, you may find this website super useful. But if you’re with BOOX, then you can get rid of the conversion efforts.

Source: https://convertio.co/

Where Can Get Free ePub for PDFs?

In “Free E-books? Here Are Some Resources for Free E-books” we’ve recommended some ebook resources. For PDF readers, you cannot miss PDF Drive, a free resource pool for PDF documents. Sometimes you can even find epub and mobi books in it.

How to Read PDFs? The Best PDF Reader for Computers.

If you often read PDFs on computers, you may need some great software to annotate the files. We summarize some highly-rated, free PDF readers other than that work fantastically for Mac and/or Windows.

  • Preview

Preview is the pre-installed PDF reader on every Mac.

  • Foxit Reader

You can create PDFs with Foxit Reader.

  • Skim

Skim is improved to let users view PDF files at any type.

  • Soda PDF

Soda PDF is excellent for viewing visual documents, such as digital catalogs, magazines, and comic books.

How to Read ePub files on PC?

The best way to read ePub files is by using a physical eReader. After all, ePub is compatible and reflowable in any ebook reader. If you want to open ePub files on PC without conversion, you can use the software recommended below.

  • Sumatra PDF

Sumatra is free, open-source and supports many other formats, like PDF, mobi, XPS, DjVu, CBR, CBZ.

  • FBReader

FBReader is a cross-platform, open-source eBook reader that reads ePub files.

  • Sony Reader for PC

Sony Reader for PC is a freeware software app that can open ePub files.

  • EPUB File Reader

EPUB File Reader is a free EPUB file viewer that can help you open and read ePub ebooks and documents.

  • Calibre

Calibre is an eBook library manager with a built-in eBook viewer.


EPUB and PDF are both significant formats for digital books and documents. They’ve got similarities and differences, and sometimes it can be difficult for you to find a suitable device or software to read both of them. Or it may take you time and effort to convert them into a unified format.

When the troubles happen and make you want to change the situation, you can also turn to BOOX E Ink devices to get the best reading experience of PDF, ePub and other formats.

Reading with BOOX Note Air
Reading with BOOX Note Air

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BOOX Content Hub

BOOX is an electronics brand specializing in Android E Ink tablets and e-readers. You can find BOOX featured content here, including product releases, firmware updates, tips&tricks and user stories. Follow us to keep up with every post that helps you know and use BOOX better.