EBook Formatting Choices: Understanding ODF, LIT and AZW

When most people think about e-book formatting, they think about two particular formats: EPUB and MOBI. But there are other formatting choices out there. The reason that you do not hear about them as much is that they are not very widely used except for specific purposes or devices. Let’s take a look at three different formatting choices that you do not hear about as much and see how they are used, what the advantages and disadvantages of them are and whether you should try to publish in these formats in addition to getting your book out there in MOBI and EPUB format.


Book publishing preparation means getting your print or eBook together and determining how it will display in the final product. When it comes to preparation, one of the best options out there is the ODF format. ODF stands for Open Document Format and it is the native format for the free replacement for Microsoft Office called Open Office. ODF is one of the best choices for book preparation and it is an ISO standard. You can export ODF into various formats that can convert to EPUB or MOBI such as being able to upload the file to the Kindle Direct Publishing platform.


The LIT format is the eBook format for Microsoft’s eBook reader. It was created to compete with the devices that were being pushed by Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iPad) and Adobe (Digital Editions). However, the LIT format and the Microsoft Reader itself did not gain very much popularity and it is rarely used these days. Still, if you are publishing an electronic book, then there is no reason not to offer it in LIT format, especially if you are using a platform like SmashWords where the book may be downloaded in whichever format the buyer wants.


As you might have guessed, this is an Amazon format. You may see books on your Kindle that have this file format. It is very similar to the MOBI file format used on Amazon devices, but it is often DRM-protected. The AZW files can store things like annotations, bookmarks, page numbers, position and more. This format isn’t used as widely as the MOBI format and on the newer Kindles there is another format altogether – the KF8 format. However, you do still see plenty of MOBI files and a few AZW files as well.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that these three file formats are not as common as the EPUB and MOBI formats, but they are still used in a limited fashion in e-publishing. The only one that you really need to worry about is the LIT format though, because Amazon will decide which format to publish your book in on their devices. You may also want to try out the ODF format to prepare for publishing. If you want to convert Epub to Mobi, then visit Reedsy, which has tons of resources on the self-publishing industry.