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E-book Tips

When you download a PDF e-book:
1) Save it to your computer or tablet before reading it.
2) Open it with Adobe Reader or similar software (usually a simple double-click on the file.)

Don’t be fooled if it opens in your browser (Safari, Chrome, Firefox, or Explorer). If you read it in your Web browser you might 1) not see the navigation bookmarks and 2) not have a stored copy for future reading. Please save it to your computer or tablet!

To avoid having the file open inside your browser, right-click the link (Mac users: Control-click).

(Having trouble? See Tips for Saving PDFs here.)

Perhaps the worst thing about e-books is the tangle of format types and reading options. John Harlin Media will offer a variety of formats. We’ll also supply tips on how to best use them on a variety of devices.

If you’re familiar with this mess, skip this page. If not, we’ll keep things as simple as possible. In due time we’ll add more tips for diverse reading devices and software. If you disagree with or can improve upon anything we write here, please let us know in the comments.

There are five primary formats for e-books: PDF, ePUB, proprietary variations on the ePUB theme (e.g., Kindle), Web-based (viewed inside your browser, like Issuu), and Apple iBooks.

There are four primary e-book reading devices: computers, tablets, smartphones, and proprietary reading devices (e.g., Kindle).


Nearly every computer user is familiar with PDF (Portable Document Format) documents. The most popular viewer is Adobe Reader, which is free. There are prettier PDF readers that offer “page flipping” features. We’ll recommend some of these later. John Harlin Media will offer most of its books in a PDF option because 1) this is by far the simplest way to reproduce previously printed books and 2) it is the most universally readable. While PDFs are optimal for computers and tablets, they can also be “side-loaded” onto most e-reading devices. We will explain this later.

The most important things to know about PDF are:

1) Fully download it onto your computer or tablet and then open the downloaded version (see the advice on top of this page). You might miss a lot trying to view a large PDF inside your Web browser. Unfortunately, photo-heavy color PDF books can be large, like 10 to 40 megabytes, and take a while to download.

2) Use the bookmarks panel to navigate directly to chapters inside the document, then scroll down to see the pages inside the chapter. You can also switch the bookmarks panel to a pages panel to avoid scrolling. Some books will have links inside, such as from the table of contents to chapters, but bookmarks do the same thing.

3) Pages are “fixed” in size at their original layout. This is usually okay on computers and larger tablets, but is a nuisance on small devices, like smartphones, where you’ll have to zoom in order to read the words.


ePUB is the standard open-source (i.e., available to everyone) format with “reflowable text” that adapts in size to whatever device you’re using, even a phone. This is the generic modern e-book format and can be read on most devices, though it requires special e-reader software to view it on your computer. At the moment the Kindle does not support ePUB, though rumor has it that will change soon. We’ll offer tips on ePUB once we have some in stock.

Proprietary ePUB-like formats:

There are others, but Kindle is dominent. The Kindle format (technically “MOBI”) is required for those devices, but can only be sold on Amazon. We’ll place specially formatted books there and elsewhere, but for now we’re focused on books we can distribute directly from

Web-based browser, like Issuu:

These viewing formats offer beautiful “page-flipping” books whenever you’re online with a computer or some tablets. A number of our titles will be available in Issuu format for you to enjoy online, wherever you are. Links to these files will be included in your purchase confirmation emails–just as soon as we figure out how to include them!

Apple iBooks:

This format offers spectacular “coffee tablet” books for the iPad. Unfortunately they can only be sold from the Apple iBookstore and can only be viewed on the iPad. Nevertheless, they’re gorgeous and we’ll be building them and selling them by linking from this website; stay tuned.

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