What eBook Formats Does iPad Support?

iPad eBook Compatibility
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The iPad is such a terrific reading device because it supports a wide range of popular ebook and audiobook formats. Sure, it's great for movies and games and the Internet, too, but for book lovers, the iPad's versatility as a mobile library is its chief appeal.

Apple's tablet comes with the company's iBooks app pre-installed, but it supports many more types of eBooks than that. This article lets you know which eBook formats the iPad supports and what apps, if any, are needed to use those formats.

 Everything listed below work on all iPad models: original, mini, Air, and Pro. 

iPad eBooks Support

There are dozens of eBook formats available online, but these are the most common ones:

Barnes & Noble NOOK

Barnes & Noble sells eBooks on its website and through its NOOK app (all app links in this article open iTunes/App Store). NOOK ebooks are a renamed version of the common ePub file type. 

CBR/CBZ

These related types of eBooks are used to present comic books and graphic novels. To read them on the iPad, try apps such as the free Manga Storm CBR or Comic Zeal, which costs US$4.99.

comiXology

The leading online comics and graphic novel store, which is owned by Amazon, is compatible with the iPad. You have to buy comics on the website, but then grab the comiXology app to download and read your purchased comics, which come in file types including PDF, CBZ, and the company's proprietary CMX-HD format.

ePub

This open format is one of the most commonly used eBook file types. Apps like iBooks and NOOK can read ePub files purchased from their respective online stores or downloaded from the web. There are a number of programs for Mac and Windows to convert other kinds of eBooks to ePub. 

iBooks

The books purchased through the iBooks Store and the iTunes Store are in the ePub format, but are modified to include Digital Rights Management to prevent unauthorized sharing or copying.

Kindle

Amazon's Kindle isn't just an e-reader that competes with the iPad; it's also an eBook format. You can read Kindle books on the iPad using Amazon's Kindle app. Kindle eBooks are a modified version of the Mobipocket file format and use the .AZW file extension. 

KF8

Kindle Format 8 is the next-generation version of the Kindle eBook file. It adds support for HTML and CSS to the existing Kindle format and uses the .AZW3 extension. The Kindle app supports KF8. 

Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word creates .DOC files and some eBooks, often those sold as direct downloads by self-publishers, come in this format. While there are a number of iPad apps that can read DOC files, Microsoft Word for iPad is free.

Mobi

Amazon's use of a modified version of Mobi for the Kindle makes this file format one of the most widely used for eBooks. Outside of the Kindle, though, you likely won't encounter it too often.  

Plain Text

These unformatted text files, which have the .TXT file extension, pop up from time to time, especially on sites that offer free, public-domain books, such as Project Gutenberg. There is a large number of apps that support Plain Text files, including the $4.99 GoodReader and iBooks.

PDF

PDF is the probably the most popular downloadable document format on the web, so you're sure to find eBooks in this format in a lot of places.

There are tons of PDF-compatible apps for the iPad, including Adobe Acrobat Reader, GoodReader, and iBooks.

iPad Audiobooks Support

The iPad can also help if you prefer to get your books in audio form instead of text. Some of the most common audiobook types supported by the iPad include: 

  • Audible - Audible.com is probably the most popular and widely used audiobook service on the Internet. With the free Audible.com app for the iPad, you'll be able to enjoy any book from that site on your tablet.
  • MP3 - Other audiobooks are often delivered as standard MP3 audio files. Since that's the same format as many music files, you can simply download an MP3 and then sync it to your iPad to listen to using the built-in Music app.

    RELATED: Get free iPad-compatible audiobooks at these 9 websites