Whether you read for school, work or pleasure, how we read has changed a lot in recent years. While many still love the tactile feel and realness of hardcover books and the like, the convenience of digital reading can't be beat unless you want to bring everything you need with you, which can include a book, bookmark, notepad and pen, and that's just for one book. With phones, laptops, tablets and specialty ereader devices, it's never been easier to take your reading list with you wherever you are and ditch all the rest. But when you have an ePub download or another file that won't open when you click on it -- it can stop you dead in your tracks and prevent you from getting any reading done.
It all starts with the introduction of the ebook format in the late 1990s. At the time there were tons of digital books available in almost just as many formats, but most only worked on one device or system, and were not easily shared. It wasn't until 1999 that the National Institute of Standards and Technology created the Open eBook format, which was based on XML technology that separated the content and words from the display, sort of like how web pages are built, meaning that different devices with differing screens could all effectively display a book without cumbersome panning or zooming unlike, say, Adobe's PDF format that had been around since 1993.
With dynamic layouts and other beneficial features, as well as the ability to be used across different devices, the Open eBook format caught on quickly with publishers that were growing wary of the numerous file formats fighting for the digital book market. Years before you could ever find an ePub download, the Open eBook format led the way, and was essentially a ZIP file format that contained all content and display information within. Officially, the extension given was .opf, which stands for open package format, and, unlike most other formats available at the time, was open and free for anyone to use.
First released in September 1999, the format went through various updates and modifications over the years, but by September of 2002 the format had graduated to a 1.2 release. Originally created by SoftBook, one of the first companies to get involved in the format and that played a huge role in of development of the format itself, other popular readers during the format's lifecycle were Sony Reader, Intel Reader, the Barnes & Nobile Nook and the Kobo eReader.
But by 2007, the Open eBook format itself was replaced by new format known as ePub 2.0, which was approved in October of that year. Similar to the older Open eBook format it replaced, ePub is an archive file like a ZIP that contains words, images and style sheets, as well as metadata and all the logic that is responsible for organizing and displaying the content within.
A small maintenance update came along in September 2010, but it wasn't until 2011 when the ePub format got its first big update, ePub 3.0, which included support for fixed layouts and other specialized formatting that gave publishers even more control over their ePub downloads. For the first time, comic books and MathML could be accurately represented as an ePub file, bringing the popular format to even more publishers and readers.
Another update for the ePub format came in 2014, but it was the 3.1 update in 2017 that brought remote resources and new font formats to the format, as well as cleaning up the markup and relying more on cleaner HTML and CSS, two mainstays of web publishing. The format has received updates as recently as May 2019, and ePub continues to be one of the most popular ebook formats across various platforms.
Additionally, ePub remains one of the few formats that can do reflowable and fixed content, which is great for text and more image-based charts, graphics and designs. It also has native bookmarking, highlighting and note taking capabilities, and also supports resizable fonts and changeable background colors and text, so readers can customize their reading experience in ways that makes reading more enjoyable.
Essentially, an ePub download or file is a complete website in an archive file. Containing all the content and other assets needed to display the information to users, ePub files can even contain video, music and other interactive elements, just like any of the websites you visit. Today, the ePub format goes well beyond just books, and the increased functionality means that ePub will continue to be a relevant digital information format well into the future.
Unfortunately, because ePub is such a popular format and is available for just about every device, it can be hard to know where to start. Widely used on iOS, Android, as well as Windows computers and Macs, ePub's ubiquity is also its challenge -- where do you start? Most people just use the first app that opens an ePub download, but that means they'll have to stick with that one reader and device until they're done reading, and they may also be missing out on other important features that their default ePub reader just won't do.
All told, there are dozens if not hundreds of ePub readers out there, and just as you'd expect, they cover the various platforms and license types, though not all have been updated to support the latest ePub features. That's why it's so important to have the right ePub reading software, so you don't lose your place, lose your notes or lose your ePub download altogether.
With Neat Reader, you get the best and easiest way to read all the ePub files you can get your hands on. It works on all your devices -- from your phone or tablet to your laptop or desktop computer -- even if you have mismatched devices that don't play well with each other. Even if you use a public computer, if you can get online, you can read your ePub downloads with Neat Reader. The best part is that Neat Reader will sync everything so that all your bookmarks, notes and highlighting are always there, which helps a lot if you're jumping on a public computer you've never used before or you like to read on different devices depending on what you're doing.
Start by creating a free account or downloading our free app to your computer, tablet or phone, and we'll sync it all no matter what device you use. Beautiful, powerful and robust, using Neat Reader is like sitting in a serene library, where everything you need is just a click away so you can get in and out of your reading without missing a beat. If you've got an extra few minutes, you can jump right in with Neat Reader, which is more than we can say about the other ePub readers out there.
Supporting both ePub 2 and ePub 3 standards, Neat Reader will render all your ePub files perfectly for any device or screen, and our secure cloud storage means that you'll never lose your place, your notes or even your ePub downloads themselves. Forget about data loss -- we've got you covered! Just open the app and start reading. It really is that simple.
Get started with a quick download or try our web app if you're on a shared computer or you'd rather not download anything. It's free to try and you can always upgrade later if you need additional features.