How to read an EPUB ebook on Kindle or Kindle app

To read an EPUB ebook on Kindle or in your Kindle app, there are just two steps involved.

  1. Convert the EPUB file into a Kindle file format.
  2. Email the new file to your device using the device’s Amazon email address.


The process differs depending on the device you use:

For PC

To read an EPUB ebook on Kindle or in your Kindle app, you will need:

  • the EPUB ebook file on your PC
  • to install the Kindle Previewer program on your PC (this can be downloaded for free here)
  • to install the Kindle for PC program (this can be downloaded for free here).

To create the Kindle file:

  • open Kindle Previewer on your PC and convert the EPUB ebook into a MOBI ebook file format
  • open the saved MOBI ebook file on your computer using the Kindle app (*see more info in comments below)
  • the ebook is automatically added to your Kindle Library on your PC.

To add the ebook to your Kindle library on another device (e.g. your Kindle, phone, tablet or computer), email the ebook to the device, using the device’s Amazon email address (link to see detailed instructions below).

For Mac

To read an EPUB ebook on Kindle or in your Kindle app, you will need:

  • the EPUB ebook file on your Mac
  • to install the Kindle Previewer program on your Mac (this can be downloaded for free here)
  • to install the Kindle for IOS program on your Mac (this can be downloaded for free here).

To create the Kindle file:

  • open Kindle Previewer on your Mac and convert the EPUB ebook into a AZK ebook file format
  • open Kindle for Mac on your computer and open the saved AZK ebook file inside the Kindle program
  • the ebook is automatically added to your Kindle Library on our Mac.

To add the ebook to your Kindle library on another device (e.g. your Kindle, phone, tablet or computer), email the ebook to the device, using the device’s Amazon email address (link to see detailed instructions below).

For iPhone or iPad

To read an EPUB ebook on Kindle or in your Kindle app, you will first need to convert the EPUB ebook file on your computer. Click here if you have a Mac or Click here if you have a PC.

Send ebooks to your device using the Amazon email address

[Thanks Lily for alerting me that ebooks no longer automatically show up in Kindle libraries on other devices! I have now found a new method to get files onto your devices–see below.]

You may not know this, but any device on which you read your Kindle books (e.g. Kindle, phone, tablet or computer) will automatically register in your Amazon Account.

For each of these devices, Amazon allocates a special Amazon email address. Quite amazing! You can actually use this  email address to email ebooks to your device!

This means that once you have converted your EPUB to a MOBI or AZK file, you can send the file to any of your other devices registered with Amazon.

To find the Amazon email address of your device:

  • log in to your Amazon account (it’s easier to do this on a computer)
  • in the top right corner of your Amazon account window, click on Account & Lists
  • select Manage your Content and Devices (you may need to sign in again here)
  • click Preferences in the menu at the top
  • scroll down and click on Personal Document Settings
  • in the Send-to-Kindle E-Mail Settings list, find the email address of the device where you want to send the ebook.

The rest is easy: use your normal email program and attach the MOBI or AZK file to an email. Send the email to your device’s Amazon email address you have just looked up.

Then, open the Kindle program on the device and the emailed file should appear in the Kindle library!

Happy reading! If you have found this information useful, please leave a comment below 🙂

[As an additional note: you can also use this email to send other file formats to your Kindle. These include: PDF, HTML and .docx for MS Word files.]

Related posts

All about ebooks
How to read an ebook on your computer?

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Older Yet Faster — a new ebook

Older Yet FasterCongratulations to Keith Bateman and Heidi Jones on the release of the Older Yet Faster print book and ebook!

Rubida Communications edited and indexed the book, and formatted the print and ebook versions.

The ebook is available through the Rubida Shop. The print book is available through the authors’ Older Yet Faster Publications website.

This book is quite something. In Older Yet Faster, Keith and Heidi teach both experienced and beginning runners a new way to run. This new running technique is not only based on the authors’ own experiences as runners, but also on their expert knowledge as coach and trainer (Keith) and as podiatrist (Heidi).

They have assembled a wealth of information in this book and created exercises to teach the ‘Older Yet Faster’ technique. The book also provides strengthening exercises to support the new running technique, and rehabilitation exercises for runners who may have injured themselves. All exercises are explained in detail and beautifully illustrated by Ainsley Knott in 60 colour illustrations.

In the appendixes, Keith and Heidi also provide in-depth background information for other coaches and podiatrists. This is where they show coaches how to teach the ‘Older Yet Faster’ technique, and podiatrists how to help runners get strong and heal injuries while preventing future re-injuries.

A great achievement!






#books, #ebooks, #running, #sports, #olderyetfaster, #writerstoolkit


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A simple method for formatting Microsoft Word documents

While formatting Microsoft Word documents, do you format each paragraph or heading? Do you sometimes forget which formatting you used for each level of subheading? Do you have to work out why the contents table does not list all headings?

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Do you insert page breaks manually to make content to fit well on the page? Do you get confused adding page numbers, headers or footers, and section breaks? Does the formatting need fixing after pasting in new content?

You are not alone. Formatting Microsoft Word documents can take a lot of time. Time that could be spent writing great content.

Below, I explain five formatting principles that will help you create Word documents that look good and consistent. They are easy to apply and do not require you to spend lots of time on formatting.

If you apply these principles, you will automatically have:

  • a clean document with consistent layout for text, headings, lists, images, boxes or any other content
  • page numbering on each page
  • a table of contents that updates automatically
  • illustrations that stay with their captions
  • clear tables that wrap if needed
  • a document that looks good to print at any time.

Five simple principles for formatting Microsoft Word documents

There are many reasons why good formatting habits in Word are important, but easy conversion to ebook is usually not one of the reasons cited. And yet, if you adopt the five simple formatting principles below, you will be using the reflowable content method for epub ebook conversion. This method is used to prepare a Microsoft Word document for conversion to ebook epub format and is very suitable to use during the writing and editing process.

The simple formatting principles below are based on keeping the text free-flowing or reflowable. Reflowable content is important for ebooks, as they do not have a fixed page size. It gives ebooks the capacity to be read on any device, irrespective of the size of the page. By using the reflowable content in Word, content will fit on the page at any time of the writing process. That means you can print it at any time without needing to adjust the page layout.

I have summarised the reflowable content method for formatting Microsoft Word documents in five main principles that are easy to apply, even to complex content. If you follow these principles, you can save many hours of formatting time.

Quick content links


1. Apply Word styles to ALL content in your document

Styles are the most important feature when formatting Microsoft Word documents and are easy to use. The fastest way to apply a style is to write a paragraph, place your cursor anywhere in the paragraph and click on the appropriate style provided on the Word Home ribbon (i.e. apply Normal style to text, Heading 1 style to your chapter or main headings, Heading 2 and following styles to subsection headings, a list style to a list element, etc.).

Most Word users will be familiar with using styles for headings, but many users do not apply styles to other content. However, Word requires that all content in your document has a style.

Formatting Microsoft Word documents - use styles

In Microsoft Word draft view you can see the styles listed to the left of each paragraph in the document.

So, even if you do not apply a style, Word will apply the default style, Normal, to all content. By not applying your own style to your content, you are missing out on a great tool that can be used to automate your layout.

Styles are the most important tool to create reflowable content and format your document. It is therefore essential that you apply a styles to all text, bullets, quotes or other content in your document.

Advantages of using styles

The first clear advantage of applying heading styles to all your headings will be that, when you insert a table of contents, it will include all headings and subheadings. The table of contents will also update automatically whenever you make a change to any heading text.

The second advantage is that you can automate how your styled paragraphs behave in the document. The Word styles provided on the Home ribbon are basic and will get you started to apply styles for text, quotes, bullet lists, boxed text, captions or notes. Even if you do not like these styles initially, you can easily change them into a style you like.

The important message of this first principle in simple formatting is to apply a style to each paragraph in your document.


There is another aspect to this principle. It also requires that you remove the blank lines that you have inserted in your document to create white space. These blank lines will prevent the principle of creating reflowable content from working well, and should be removed. Instead, you need to create automated white space, by defining spaces before and after paragraphs when you format your style.

In summary, the essence of the simple formatting method is that you know how to use styles in MS Word. This is not hard to learn. If you have specific questions about how to create styles, notify me in the comments below.

2. Do not use page breaks or section breaks in the document

Page breaks and section breaks in Word are used for specific layout and are not required while writing or editing your document. If you do not intend to publish the Word version of your document, but will import it into Indesign or another graphic layout program, there is no need to do a page layout with section breaks in Word. If you will publish in Word, leave the final page layout formatting until the very end, after the writing and editing phases, when your content is complete. This will allow you to export your document to epub ebook before doing the final layout formatting in Word AND will prevent you wasting time on layout during the writing process.

Section breaks and page breaks are the cause of many formatting problems, as they control all the headers and footers and will affect pagination if you are not aware of how they work.

So, how can you add breaks at the correct places in your document without using section or page breaks? You use styles. If you would like a chapter or table to start on a new page, apply a ‘start new page’ paragraph format to the heading style (e.g. Heading 1) that needs to start on a new page. This will automatically start a new page without adding a real ‘page break’ element to the document.

Formatting Microsoft Word documents - page break before

Instead of inserting a page break, change the style to ‘Page break before’.

You can do the same for boxes, figures or tables that need to start on a new page (i.e. change the style definition of the box, table or figure name and apply a ‘start new page’ paragraph format).

3. Add a simple centred page number to the document footer

Page numbering is essential. During the pre-publication process, you will need to print the document and discuss it with collaborators. However, you do not need different page numbering for front matter and actual content, or odd and even page number locations while you are working on the document. These are complex formatting features linked to section breaks and can be difficult to fix if you are not aware of how they work.

All the document needs is a page number centred in the footer. This method of pagination is clear. It also works for double-sided printing. You can use this simple pagination throughout the writing process, the editing process, and up to the final proofing of the content. By simplifying the page numbering and removing section breaks, you will eliminate most problems involving header/footer formatting.


Formatting Microsoft Word documents - insert page number

Insert a page number centred in the footer.

If you wish to have a document draft number or date in the footer, you can easily add this next to the centred page number in the footer or add it to the header.

If you require cross-references that refer the reader to other sections in the document, do not use page numbers as cross-reference, but use the Word cross-reference feature to insert an automatically updating link to the correct location in the document.

4. Always insert images and other object graphics in line with text

To add images, graphs or flow charts to your document, use copy and paste — or the Insert ribbon — to add these to your document. However, always make sure you place each image on a separate line and set the image position to ‘In Line with Text’. Do not apply any text wrapping but keep the image on its own line (i.e. paragraph). This will ensure the image does not float around in the document, disappear behind the text, or cover the text.

Formatting Microsoft Word documents - insert an image in line with text

Always insert an image or object ‘In Line with Text’ and do not apply wrapping.


Then, create a style for the paragraph with the image and apply this style to all the paragraphs with images in the document. By applying a style to the image paragraph, you can easily format its horizontal placement (e.g. left, centre or right alignment). If you apply this style to all images in your document, they will automatically look consistent. These basic settings will be sufficient until the document is ready for design.

If you need to overlay text on the image or graphic, do not do this in Word, but edit the image before importing into Word. I do not recommend using text boxes to overlay text on images. This will only lead to problems. Text boxes are easily lost on the page if not inserted correctly, and they are hard to edit in track changes. In addition, the content of a text box can easily be lost when importing the document into a design program for page layout.

The simplest way to clarify or annotate an illustration during the writing process, is to use a caption or note paragraph style below the illustration. Format the style the way you like and then apply it to all captions in the document. This will present all illustrations in your document in a consistent way.

Note that images sized to display at the full with of the document page will require re-scaling if you decide later on to change the document page width.

5. Insert tables using the Insert ribbon and do not change the page orientation

Tables are most accessible when they have the same orientation as the text. If your table is too large for portrait page layout and requires landscape orientation, it is most likely complex and hard to read. To insert landscape pages, you will need to insert section breaks and increase the chance of document corruption during the pre-publication process. Therefore, I strongly recommend reorganising a table for portrait orientation, rather than trying to create a landscape page.

By reorganising your table, you will make it easier to read and scan. This, in turn, will also make your document more accessible. So, start early and organise the information in your tables to improve clarity and easy scanning.

To insert a table, use the Insert ribbon and click the Table icon to specify how many table rows and columns you will need. This inserts a simple table format.

Formatting Microsoft Word documents - insert a table

Insert the table in the same orientation as the rest of the document. Use the Insert tab and select the number of cells you require.

Using styles to format the table content

To format the table, create three styles: a table header style, a table text style and a table number style. Apply paragraph formatting to these three styles so they format the table text the way you like. For example, you can apply bold font and centred alignment for the table header style; normal font and left alignment for the table text style, and normal font with centred or right alignment for the table number style. I also recommend using a basic table style. A simple table that has cells with borders shows the content clearly separated during the writing process.

If you need to use other paragraph formats in the table, always create a style for it. Try to create styles that can be used in most tables rather than special styles for just one table. There is no need to spend time on formatting of tables during the writing and editing phases. This is the time where you have to make sure table content is clear and correct. After the editing phase there will be time for a designer to apply your favourite design features.

In addition, to ensure that the table will be easy to read when it wraps to the next page, always set the header row to repeat. To make sure the table adjusts to the page width, always set the width to 100%.

If you apply these simple settings to each table in your document, all tables will look consistent.

If you follow these five principles for formatting Microsoft Word documents, you will have a document that is clear and consistently formatted. Paragraphs and headings and other text elements will look consistent. Tables will be easy to read and illustration text will not disappear or move in an undesirable way. The document should have very few formatting issues or problems.

This means your document will be ready to share at any time without layout fixes. You can quickly send it to a co-writer, supervisor, senior executive or editor. The layout will always be suitable for printing. Pages will not need cleaning up and will not be prone to layout corruption.

These five simple Word formatting principles ensure that you can take your document quickly through the writing and editing phases without wasting time on layout formatting.

An easy path to epub ebook conversion and publishing

When you have finished writing and editing, your document will be ready for the next step in the publication process. The content will be ready to import into design software for traditional publishing. It can also be quickly converted into epub ebook format.

If you do want to publish in Microsoft Word, now is the time to pass the document to a skilled formatter. They can quickly attach your company template to your document in Word or apply fancy design. As the text is still free-flowing, the page print size can be changed up to the last minute without much effort.

Formatting Microsoft Word documents - publishing and epub conversion

Use simple formatting with reflowable content during the writing and editing phases. Convert to print design, epub ebook or fancy layout in MS Word after you have finalised the editing process.

Time is important during the publication process. I hope this method will save you lots of time when producing your next document and give you more time to focus on the content. Once you have created your document styles, they can be transferred to all your documents, saving you even more time.

Do you apply a similar method when formatting Microsoft Word documents? Which method do you use?

Try out this method and let me know your experiences. If you have any formatting questions, please let me know. You can use the comments field below to submit a comment or question.

For more tips and tutorials on formatting Microsoft Word documents, sign up for the newsletter below this post.

Happy formatting!


Hashtags: #WordFormatting, #books, #ebooks, #WritersToolkit

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Understanding Major Donors ebook release

Understanding Major Donors ebookCongratulations to Charlotte Grimshaw, Molly Masiello and Conor McCarthy on the release of Understanding Major Donors ebook!

Rubida Communications produced the epub ebook version of the book.

Understanding Major Donors is a detailed work on prospect research in Australia. It contains numerous links and a wealth of information for Australian fundraisers.

The Understanding Major Donors ebook is now available in the Rubida shop.





#books, #ebooks, #nonprofit, #fundraising


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The Australian manual of scientific style (AMOSS)

Whether you are a scientist writing journal articles or an editor working on scientific documents, I can strongly recommend the Australian manual of scientific style (AMOSS). This great resource can answer many of your questions about scientific writing style, language and editorial consistency. It also has special sections that focus on peer-reviewed scientific papers, grant applications, reports and books.

The manual has just been released by the Biotext team, who have a wealth of experience in looking after scientific documents, gained over many years.

Finally a resource for scientific style that is online and accessible from anywhere!


The Australian manual of scientific style (AMOSS) gives sound advice on just about anything you will come across when publishing scientific reports, articles and books. It has three main sections —‘writing’, ‘editing’ and ‘showing’ — which each contain a wealth of articles and advice. Topics vary from simple things, such as when to use a comma or how to use the dashes, to more complex issues such as how to standardise tables, figures and charts.

The information in the manual is detailed, clear and well organised. I also like the many links to external specialised information, and the fact sheets for downloading.


You can access the manual through online subscription. This is great: you don’t need to carry around a heavy manual but have access to it from anywhere. So you can write or edit on the beach, in the field or from your favourite cafe!

You can find the manual here.
Disclosure: I used to work for Biotext as an employee, and still do contract work for Biotext.

To find other recommended resources for writers and editors, check the resources page.


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Introduction to PerfectIt online course

I recently wrote about my favourite editing tool, PerfectIt, a software add-on to Ms Word. Just this month, my friend and colleague Hilary Cadman from Cadman Editing Services has launched her Introduction to PerfectIt online course.

If you are interested in PerfectIt, but feel reluctant to learn yet another program, this course is the easiest way to jump this hurdle. The PerfectIt online course takes you through the setup of PerfectIt and how to use the program on your documents.

Also, the course takes only 60 to 90 minutes to complete. Therefore, this is a great way to start using the program, without the headache of working it all out by yourself.

Excellent value!

Other resources

To find other recommended resources for writers and editors, check the resources page.


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PerfectIt for writers and editors

Of the many proofreading aids for writers and editors, PerfectIt is my favourite.
It is a Microsoft Word add-on program that will find many of the inconsistencies you have inadvertently left in your document.

Here are some examples of the things it will find in your document:

  • inconsistent spelling (e.g. you have used both ‘program’ and ‘programme’ in the same document)
  • inconsistent capitalisation (e.g. you have used both ‘crown-of-thorns starfish’ and ‘Crown-of-Thorns Starfish’ in the same document)
  • unspecified or inconsistently specified acronyms or abbreviations
  • missing brackets or quotes.

In addition, the program will let you create your own style sheet (a list of words or terms). You can then instruct PerfectIt to use this style sheet when checking your document.

PerfectIt resources

You can find more information about this program on the Intelligent Editing website.

There is now also a course on how to use this program: see Introduction to PerfectIt for writers and editors.

Other resources

To find other recommended resources for writers and editors, check the resources page.


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‘Macquarie Dictionary’

I use and recommend the Macquarie Dictionary for spelling. The Australian Government and universities consider this work the authoritative source on Australian English. By using this work as your spelling standard, you adopt a consistent strategy, which readers will respect.

Usage of the Macquarie Dictionary

The Macquarie Dictionary is available as a printed book, an online website, and as an app. Only the online edition is updated annually.

While I have both the Macquarie Dictionary app and the printed book in my office, I tend to use the app more than the book. This is mostly because looking up a term is much quicker on the app. The app also provides related words or terms when using the search function. I also love the list of ‘recent’ words, which saves all recent searches. Of course, the app is much easier to carry around and very handy when working away from my office.

However, for comparing definitions and for terms with large explanations, the book is more convenient. So, really, having both is the best option.


You can find an overview of the history of the Macquarie Dictionary on Wikipedia here.


The online edition is available for a 30-day free trial at the Macquarie Dictionary website. However, subscription to the online version is only for one year and needs annual renewal. As this costs more than the app (which is not updated annually, but still very good), I have not used the online subscription.

To find other recommended resources for writers and editors, check the resources page.


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‘Effective writing — Plain English at work’ by Elizabeth Manning Murphy and Hilary Cadman

This is an excellent book for writers who want to improve or refresh their skills of effective writing.

When I was doing my online editing course many years ago, I used the first edition of this book extensively. It has excellent examples and many exercises to test yourself. I still use it to look up examples when I want to explain something to a client or go back to the theory.

Content overview

This second edition of Effective writing has new material throughout that refers to writing using electronic media.

The book has three main sections:

  • the basics
  • writing effectively
  • creating effective documents.

The basics section covers many areas that are fundamental to writing. These include grammar, spelling, parts of speech, groups of words, paragraphs, punctuation and clear writing.

In the writing effectively section, attention goes to style, plain English expression and word choice.

The last section, on creating effective documents, focuses on the writing process and design. This section also discusses many types of written documents. Sections include: correspondence, minutes, emails, submissions and presentations. There is also a detailed section on report writing.

Effective writing has a back-of-book index.


The hard copy version of Effective writing is available online from the Book Depository and from Angus & Robertson Bookworld.

The book is also available as an ebook.


Other resources for writers and editors

To find other recommended resources for writers and editors, check the resources page.


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All about ebooks

What are ebooks?

Ebooks have been around for a while now and still the definition can be a bit blurry. So, what are ebooks?

According to Wikipedia, an ebook is ‘an electronic book’ or ‘digital book’. In other words, it is a book-publication in digital form, consisting of text, images, or both, readable on computers or other electronic devices.

Just like a printed book, an ebook has a cover, a blurb and content. An ebook can have all the characteristics of a print book, such as an ISBN, an author, an editor, an illustrator, a publisher, etc.

ebook — e-book — eBook

There are many versions, but it seems ‘ebook’ is winning the race.
This is also the preferred spelling in the Macquarie Dictionary, which I am following here.

What is the difference between a PDF and an ebook?

What are ebooks? Image of a page of a PDF file when opened on an smart phone

When a PDF is opened on a smart phone, only this section is visible. The other text is outside the view.

Strictly speaking, a PDF is an ebook. The PDF (an abbreviation for Portable Document Format, developed by Adobe) has been, until recently, the best known and most widely used ebook format.

However, books in PDF format, and many other fixed-page electronic formats, have the same disadvantage as print books: a lot of time and effort has to be spent on page layout and they are hard to read on small screen. Electronic book formats such as PDF also restrict the reader to a particular software program, and they need to be read and displayed at a readable size (i.e. a normal computer screen).

In the past, this was probably the reason why publishers rarely sold published books into those fixed-page formats.

The rise of smart phones and tablets has gone hand in hand with the development of new ebook formats (e.g. EPUB, MOBI) that no longer have these disadvantages. Because of this, ebook publishing has changed a lot. We can now read ebooks on many devices and no longer have to sit behind our computers.

The main difference between formats such as PDF and the new ebook formats such as EPUB is that the new formats ‘reflow’ the content.

What is reflowable content?

File formats such as PDF have a ‘fixed’ page layout. This means that the content on the pages is always the same and does not change when you open the PDF on a different device.

The new ebooks, however, are produced in a format that no longer fixes the page content. Instead, the page content changes when you open the ebook on a different device (or on the computer when you change the size of the program window). This is possible because the new file formats allow the book content to ‘reflow’, i.e. the content adapts to the device on which it is read (like water takes on the form of its container).

The following examples show what happens when ebook content is reflowable.

What are ebooks? Image of a double page spread of A Voyage to New South Wales in Adobe Digital Editions

A double-page spread of the ebook ‘A Voyage to new South Wales’ in Adobe Digital Editions on a computer screen.

The fraction of the page content you would see if this was a PDF opened on a smart phone

The fraction of the page content you would see if this was a PDF opened on a smart phone.

The example I am using is from the book by John White, ‘A voyage to New South Wales’, in EPUB format (a most interesting journal by the first-fleet doctor about the plants and animals they found in Australia in 1787).

In the first image, taken on a computer screen, the ebook content is spread over a double page using Adobe Digital Content (see below, How to read an ebook on your computer?).

If the same document was in PDF format and opened on a small screen, you would only see a small section of the page (see second image). To read all the content on the page, a reader would have to use the scroll buttons to move the document from left to right and up and down. This would become very irritating.

This is the main reason non-reflowable text formats are used less and less for ebooks.

When content is in a reflowable format, as shown in the screen shots below taken on an iPhone 5, the text wraps and adjusts to the much smaller iPhone screen. The reader does not have to use scroll buttons and can continue reading. Below, I show the first two pages of the same document content displayed on the iPhone.

What are ebooks? Image of the text on an iphone screen

The same text reflowing to the page size of an iPhone. These are the first two pages.

In the same way, the content will take the size of any display screen so users no longer have to zoom in.

The two main reflowable ebook formats used for ebooks are EPUB and MOBI. The EPUB file format is a free and open standard format and is used by books that are for sale at most ebook bookshops. The MOBI file format is used by Amazon Kindle for all their ebooks.

How does reflowable content work with images?

This reflow capacity of ebooks also applies to text with images or illustrations. For example, the screen capture below, taken on my computer, shows a double page spread of the same ebook on Mozilla Firefox epub reader (which also has a clickable contents table on the left).

What are ebooks? Image of the ebook text in Mozilla Firefox

A Voyage to New South Wales shown in Mozilla Firefox EPUB Reader.

The same content on the iPhone 5 below spreads over several pages (I show the first and last page). You can see that the image is adjusted to fit on the small screen.

What are ebooks? First page of the same text on an iPhone 5

First page of the same text on an iPhone 5.

What are ebooks? Last page of the same text on an iPhone 5

Last page of the same text on an iPhone 5.


This great flexibility of EPUB and MOBI formats explains why ebooks have become so popular.

Reflowable content lets the reader take control

Even though ebooks have a list of advantages for publishers, readers are the ones who benefit most. They no longer have to scroll to see content and also get a whole range of controls they never had before.

Thanks to reflowable content, readers can be given control over the font size, colour and even the indentation of paragraphs as they read. This is great for accessibility. People with good eyesight can read the text in small font, while readers who have problems with small font can enlarge the font size to the size they need with the click of a button — I love reading without my glasses! In addition, reflowable ebooks are also easier to convert into audio, which makes them even more accessible.

On many readers you can also change the colour of the page background, the light intensity of the screen, control blue or red light, set the font type, etc. Below, I show some of the different views I can get on my smart phone, without having to change anything to the publication file itself…

What are ebooks? Image of ebook text displayed on an iPhone 5

Large, sans-serif, white font on a black page background.

What are ebooks? Image of ebook text displayed on an iPhone 5

Small, serif, black font on a white page background.

What are ebooks? Image of ebook text displayed on an iPhone 5

Medium, sans-serif, black font and a sepia page background.


The advantages of ebooks

The advantages of ebooks are there for readers, writers, publishers and the environment. Here is a summary.

For readers

When reading an ebook you can:

  • read the same reflowable ebook on the computer, tablet or smart phone without the need for enlarging or scrolling — the content adjusts to the screen size
  • choose the size of the font, the font type and the colour of the font and background page
  • add as many bookmarks or highlights to your ebook as you want
  • automatically find the place where you stopped reading the previous time
  • have your library in your pocket or keep it online to access from anywhere in the world — travelling with ebooks is easy
  • purchase ebooks at lower cost (because writers and publishers can produce ebooks cheaper)
  • have access to millions of books online, many for free because copyrights have expired
  • purchase ebooks online from anywhere in the world and receive them moments later
  • have a good feeling that ebooks are better for the environment than print books.

Accessibility for vision-impaired readers is also a great benefit. Font size adjustments, brightness of screen and conversions to audio books are all new options that were very expensive for print books.

For writers

In addition to taking credit for the benefits to readers, as a writer you gain by being in a better position to self-publish an ebook. You can choose to self-publish your book as an ebook because the production process is shorter than for print and does not require the same financial investment. If you are IT literate, you can learn how to produce and publish your own book. You will have no expenses for page layout, conversion into other formats, printing and transport. The internet makes it easier to market and sell your books to the whole world from your own website, and also gives you the option of interacting with your readers.

For publishers

Ebooks may be reorganising the publishing world, but books will not disappear — there will always be writers who write books and readers who want to read them. Therefore there will always be publishers.

Publishers benefit from the ebook transformation because the whole production process has become cheaper, easier and sales are now possible worldwide. Publishers have the same advantages as writers, but they are still the expert on quality writing and publication delivery. For those writers that prefer to write, a publisher is still the best way to publish a high-quality book.

For the environment

Print production is not only expensive for readers, writers and publishers. It is also expensive for the environment. Ebook production removes a suite of production steps that damage the environment.

To produce an ebook:

  • you do not need to chop trees to make paper
  • there is no paper processing or bleaching, no ink production, no printing, and less waste, so less chemicals end up in the environment
  • there are less greenhouse gases for transport (transport is instantly over the internet).

How to read an ebook on your computer?

Where to start with your first ebook? I suggest the first step is to read a free ebook on your computer. This way, you do not have to purchase anything or subscribe to any online ebook service.

Before opening an ebook on your computer, you need to make sure you have the software on your computer to read it. For some reason, standard computer installations do not yet come with ebook readers. (I have just installed Windows 10 on a new laptop, and when I try to open an EPUB ebook, it takes me straight to the Microsoft store login…) It is obvious that the various large companies involved (i.e. Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft) prefer you purchase their apps, ebooks, ebook devices and software through their own systems, rather than show you how to set up your own library by downloading ebooks from the web. Luckily, there are many ways around this and it is not very hard to find free ebooks and software online.

Here are a few software programs that will read EPUB format ebooks.

Mozilla Firefox EPUB Reader

This program is the most simple and is my recommended choice.

  • download and install the Mozilla Firefox internet browser for Windows and Mac — a free and open-source internet browser
  • browse to EPUBReader (a Firefox add-on) and install it — the instructions on this website explain how to install it
  • see the section below on how to obtain your own free ebook
  • click on the ebook file link in the email to open the ebook in EPUBReader
  • start reading!

Adobe Digital Editions

This software is by Adobe and is free. It is simple to use, but you will need to download the epub file to your computer and open it in the program before you can start reading.

  • download and install Adobe Digital Editions (for Windows and Mac)
  • see the section below on how to obtain you own free ebook
  • download and save the ebook to your computer
  • open Adobe Digital Editions
  • select File>Add to library to find the downloaded ebook on your computer
  • select the ebook file to open it in Adobe Digital Editions
  • start reading!


This software is also free, but they do appreciate donations. However, Calibre is much more complex than the previous two programs. In addition to reading EPUB ebooks, it can read many other formats, convert formats, build an ebook library, and even create new EPUB publications. I would only recommend this program for more experienced users, but it is excellent value.

The most useful feature for beginners is that you will be able to search for ebooks on the internet from the program itself and add them to your library.

  • download and install Calibre (for Windows and Mac)
  • see the section below on how to obtain you own free ebook
  • download the ebook to your computer
  • open Calibre and click on Add Books to find the downloaded ebook on your computer
  • select the ebook file to open it in Calibre
  • start reading!

Download the free EPUB ebook

What are ebooks? A voyage to New South Wales

FREE ebook ‘A Voyage to new South Wales’ by John White

The ebook ‘A Voyage to new South Wales’ is available for free for readers of this post. There are many other free ebooks available online (see below).

To download the ebook:

  • click on the following link ‘A Voyage to New South Wales
  • click on the Free Download button and then on Checkout to go to the check out.

You will be asked to submit your email address so that you can receive the link to the ebook. You will not have to pay.

When you receive your ebook email:

  • click on the link to the book in the email
  • if you have installed Mozilla Firefox and the EPUBReader, the ebook will automatically open in Firefox and be added to your EPUBReader library
  • if you have not yet installed EPUB reader software, you can download the ebook file to your computer and follow the instructions above on how to install an ebook reader.

More information on ebooks

In this post, I have concentrated on mainstream ebooks and those formats with reflowable content. The following sites are excellent resources on various other aspects of ebooks.

  • Comparison of ebook formats: Have a look at this Wikipedia site if you are interested to know more about the various formats of ebooks that exist. It shows an excellent comparison table of the various features associated with each format type.
  • Comparison of ebook readers: This Wikipedia site provides a list of ebook readers that exist. It shows an excellent comparison table of the various features associated with each reader.
  • Comparison of Android e-book reader software: If you have an Android smart phone or tablet, this site lists the apps you can use to read ebooks on your device.
  • Comparison of iOS e-book reader software: If you have an iPhone or iPad, this site lists the apps you can use to read ebooks on your device.

Sites with free EPUB ebooks

There are many sites out there with free ebooks, though you have to be careful which sites you use. These are my favorites:

Project Gutenberg: This site has over 50 000 free ebooks that can be downloaded. It is a highly reliable site that does not have a commercial interests.

Project Gutenberg Australia: The Australian part of the above organisation has more Australian documents.

eBooks@Adelaide library: Connected to the University of Adelaide, Australia, this site presents many of the library’s works online. Free to read through their own browser online and also available to download to your computer.


I am happy to answer your questions about ebooks. Please use the Reply option below to ask a question.