Ebooks are a great way to get the word out about your compa­ny and to tell your brand story.

BY HEATHER WIED

If you’re marketing products and services, or creating brand awareness, ebooks can be an incredibly useful tool. Marketers can use ebooks for both lead generation and brand building. Typical uses include giving away e-books to entice potential customers or using an ebook to tell your company’s story, outline your value prop­osition, and highlight market differentiators.

Ebooks are popular because they’re an effective marketing solution that is relatively inex­pensive to produce, distribute, and share. If you’re ready to jump on the ebook bandwagon to generate leads or build your company’s brand, you’ll have some decisions to make about publishing format.

Here’s a quick overview of the three main main formats avail­able and the pros and cons of each one.

PDF (Portable Document Format)

The default ebook format choice for many marketers, a PDF is a method for creating and sharing documents from a variety of file types. Creating a PDF requires little specialized technical knowledge or software, so mar­keters can easily con­vert existing collateral into an ebook, cre­ate a PDF, and share it as a file attachment. PDFs preserve the original layout, which makes designers happy. The downside is that the fixed layout won’t necessarily render correctly on different device types, and readability can be a major hur­dle on smaller screens.

EPUB (Electronic Publication)

A distribution and interchange format that is XML-based, EPUB is the most widely supported vendor-neutral ebook format. It allows marketers to distribute rich media elements in a sin­gle-file format across virtually all device types. There are cur­rently two versions: release 2, the standard most ebook pro­ducers still use, and version 3, an updated release. EPUB fea­tures a flowable layout, which means people can view EPUB ebooks on all types of devices and screen sizes. It also works with native multimedia players, meaning users can view video and other elements using their device without having to download a player.­

Mobi

A digital rights-protected format proprietary to Amazon, Mobi is the ebook format used for Amazon’s popular Kin­dle devices. Like EPUB, Mobi reflows design to fit different screen sizes and enables em­bedding of rich media ele­ments, such as video. Because Kindle is the most popular ereader, many potential cus­tomers can view ebooks in Mobi format. However, Mobi incorporates digital rights management elements that can make it difficult for readers to share material, a challenge PDF and EPUB-based e-books eliminate.

Each of those format types offers unique features and advantages, so as a marketer, you’ll need to decide which format works best for your campaign goals.

Just remember that when it’s time to select which format to use, you’ll need to keep your campaign goals in mind and choose wisely.

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