When it comes to ePub downloads, the internet is a vast place. There are countless ePub files available for purchase and download, and many of them are sold right alongside their hardcover and physical counterparts in huge, virtual bookstores like Amazon.com. But if you're not a seasoned ePub reader, it can be a bit tricky to get up and running with an ePub file. Unfortunately, there's no one way to acquire, store or read ePub downloads, and each platform, device and store has a different set of hoops to jump through if you want to start reading ePubs on a screen.
As the most common digital book format available worldwide, ePub files use the .epub extension. But you might not even see the dot-extension as most operating systems don't show extensions by default. Instead, look for the ePub label in the file's icon or in the file properties. Adopted as the official standard of the International Digital Publishing Forum, ePubs are the format of choice for many book publishers and independent producers as ePubs are viewable on just about anything and the format supports scalable fonts, changeable colors and other advanced layout and display features that makes reading on an electronic device fun and engaging.
Itself an archive file, ePub downloads are made up of XHTML content pieces in addition to images and other layout directives, sort of like how web pages are built. Epubs utilize an independent, XML-based format that makes it adaptable to different operating systems and displays, unlike, say, Adobe's popular PDF format that works more like a scrollable image with everything set in place. That makes ePubs a more efficient and adaptable format, as just about any device or platform can parse and display ePub content in a way best fit for the screen dimensions, the operating system and the device itself.
But the vast array of choice available in ePub devices and readers means that it's not so straightforward when it comes to what you should use. Instead of one or a few clear choices, there are dozens of platforms and systems, and hundreds if not thousands of possible combinations when you add in all the ePub viewers out there.
That said, it usually starts with a download link, or some kind of ePub download that you have on your computer or phone. Sometimes it'll be a link in the web browser following a purchase, where a click will prompt you to save the ePub; other times you'll receive a follow-up email with either a direct link or you'll be provided access to a temporary gateway to retrieve your ePub download. Either way, once you download your ePub file the only thing left to do is to view it and get to reading.
If you run into any problems with an ePub download, you might need to troubleshoot your internet connection or adjust settings on your device. If your internet goes out while downloading, just wait until it comes back online and try again. On a phone, you can switch over to WiFi or your data plan if your main connection isn't currently working. Or the culprit may be an outdated web browser or pending software updates.
If you're on a mobile handset, navigate to the downloads area of your phone and click the ePub file. If it doesn't open automatically or give you a prompt to choose a program to view it, you may not have a compatible ePub reader installed. If that's the case, you can download our fully featured ePub reader, Neat Reader (iOS download / Android download), or one of the many ePub readers available online.
If you happen to be on a Windows desktop or laptop, it used to be the case that you could read ePub downloads directly in the native internet browser, Edge, but Microsoft decided to discontinue support recently. As such, there's no native way to browse ePub files without looking to third-party software. Our software, Neat Reader, is a great windows ePub reader for Windows 7, 8 and 10, and because it works on Windows computers as well as mobile handsets, you'll be able to use the same software across all your devices, which makes getting caught up on your reading even easier.
If you're on either a Mac desktop or laptop, you're actually in luck. Apple Books is the default ePub and eBook reader app for Mac and comes preinstalled, just like with all iOS mobile devices. If you're fully invested in the Apple ecosystem and use Mac laptops, desktops, phones and tablets, this means you already have an ePub reader installed that you can use without having to go find one. That's great if you're an Apple-only user, as reading lists and bookmarks can be shared across devices without much fuss, allowing you to pick up where you left off, no matter what Apple device you're reading from.
However, our Mac ePub reader does the same thing, and it gives you true handoff between all Apple devices, including phones, tablets and computers, as well as Windows computers and Android phones and tablets. While Mac handoff sharing can be a boon to those in the Apple ecosystem, all it takes is one device such as an Android phone or tablet, or a Windows computer at work or school, to render all the slick sharing thing moot. Apple is also one of the worst when it comes to playing nice with others, and most titles downloaded from Apple's webstore have digital rights management that blocks them from not only being viewed on other devices, but even with other ePub reader apps, which means you're stuck with Apple Books or its replacement forever.
The good news is that you don't have to play by Apple's rules if you want true cross-platform compatibility. Here at Neat Reader, we recognize that users don't always want to fire up a separate app to view ePub downloads, which could make reading on shared computers or on accounts and platforms that don't allow downloads or have easy access to a native ePub reader more difficult -- so we ported our cutting-edge ePub reader to the web. Now anyone can read ePubs without downloading or installing anything, and our web-based ePub reader works on just about any modern web browser.
The best part is that with Neat Reader for Web, it does most of what our native software does, though we did have to simplify it somewhat to work across different devices. You still get the same, seamless reading experience on all your devices -- from Windows desktops and laptops to Mac computers, iOS devices and Android phones and tablets -- without having to mess with convoluted and confusing interfaces as you jump back and forth. If there are any features that you're missing from the native version, just download Neat Reader for your system and get back into reading with our more advanced features without missing a beat.
And don't forget that Neat Reader is a fully featured ePub reader that works with all the ePub capabilities you know and rely upon, such as bookmarking, note taking, font changing and more. If you want to look up a section by keyword or search for specific mentions of something across your library of books, Neat Reader does that, too. No matter how you like to read, Neat Reader gives you the tools to personalize each ePub download to your exact preferences, and because it works on all devices you won't need to jump around into another confusing app when you just want to get right to reading.