Why Do We Sell Our E-books Only in PDF Format ?

June 8th, 2018

David in South Carolina recently asked:

Will you be converting the PDF books to digital (Kindle format) soon? Myself (and plenty others) would buy a lot more books on PFRE if they were in digital (Kindle) format like Nathan Cool’s book.

If you become an Amazon affiliate, you would get a percentage of each sale and another stream of income for the website. PDF books are old school and not the way people read nowadays.

With all the upcoming changes to PFRE, Kindle formats for the books would be great!

The short answer is no; we sell our books in PDF format because we believe that format is best for our customers. Here are the reasons:

  • PDF is a universal format that works on literally any device you have.
  • Kindles and Kindle Apps read PDFs. I have all the PFRE books on my Kindle and they work great!
  • The Kindle format does not work well for books with a lot of photos and diagrams because the Kindle will rearrange the format as you page through the book. With a PDF format book, the layout is fixed so it is easier to read.
  •  I published my son Ian’s book and sell it on Amazon in Kindle format so I fully understand the process of selling books on Amazon. There are no advantages for the seller compared to selling it yourself on your own website like we do here at PFRE.

So after selling books here on PFRE in PDF format for over 12 years, we still think the PDF format is the best for everyone involved.

Update 6/10/2018:
Notice that we have a special page here that lists answers to some of the issues that people have raised over the years.

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6 Responses to “Why Do We Sell Our E-books Only in PDF Format ?”

  • If you are on Apple, iBooks will read PDF fine.

    Also, if on Apple, the free “Pages” word processor from Apple will convert PDF to epub format which will work on most readers.

    NOTE: for the seller of ebooks: You can convert your pdf’s to “epub” easily by using “Pages” software, and then just email the epub file to the buyer. Some buyers may not know how to convert, so you can easily do it for them, thus giving you more sales. I think that converting PDF to Kindle can probably be done too, with a bit of effort.

  • PDF is the most universal format and every tablet I have some across will read them just fine. I’m not sold that any other format confers any greater advantage for me as the consumer. There could be features that I just don’t use, but I’m a pretty linear reader when it comes to many things like tutorials.

    I wish that Nathan was publishing his tutorials outside of Amazon. I don’t care to support Amazon at all, but would love to support Nathan.

    Calibre on the Mac will convert between different eBook formats for free.

  • PDF is ok for bigger tablets, notebooks and workstations, but on a small 7″ b/w reader a pdf sucks because of the rigid layout. Epub is the better format for small ebook reader. It shouldn’t be difficult to pack also an epub file together with the pdf.

  • @Thomas – I will take a look at the epub format. At this point, I’m still skeptical but I take a look at it.

  • @Thomas – After some quick research into the current state of e-book readers and formats it is very clear that even though your personal ebook reader may use Epub format that is not a format that all ebook readers support. Kindles don’t read Epub format, they read Mobi format! And it’s pretty clear that support for Kindles is key for any ebook publisher. So to provide a complete alternative to PDF I would have to provide both Mobi and Epub format.

    I did a quick try at converting a PDF version of my book to Epub and it made a complete mess of the book. So format conversion isn’t as trivial as it sounds. It isn’t impossible since I created a Mobi file for my son’s book a couple of years ago. I will keep looking at this to see if it is possible. However, I just looked at Scott’s book on my 7″ Kindle Fire and it looks pretty good because we use 16 point font with 18 point line spacing. If I can get the PDF books converted to Mobi and Epub format I would probably give a choice of which fromat a purchaser wants.

  • @Larry – I have a basic Kobo reader and it supports epub, mobi and pdf. Amazon has a Kindle Plugin for Adobe InDesign® (Beta):

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