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E-book FAQ

Some of our security and privacy publications are now available as e-books, in EPUB format. You can use them on e-book readers and in e-book apps. Clicking or tapping on an EPUB link may display options for opening the file, depending on what apps are installed on your device. We hope to eventually continue adding EPUB files to our library of security and privacy publications.

What is an EPUB?

EPUB is a file format used to display an e-book. It is an open standard for e-books that was created by the International Digital Publication Forum (IDPF).

Why are only EPUB-formatted e-books available?

This was a limited, pilot project by NIST's Computer Security Division to expand its publication library beyond PDFs. We selected the EPUB format because of its wide availability on a number of devices and apps and its availability as an open standard.

What is the authoritative version of a publication?

Our PDF files remain the authoritative versions of our security and privacy publications. The EPUB files on CSRC are intended to provide an alternative format for accessing our publications--especially on mobile devices.

How do I open an EPUB file?

Click or tap the link to the EPUB, and your device should either ask you to select an installed e-book app, or else automatically open the file, depending on your device settings.

Where do I find eReader apps?

Your device may have built-in e-book apps, but most devices now have access to app stores where free (or fee-based) apps are available (e.g., iTunes, Google Play, Apps for Windows, etc.)* Access the online store for your device and search for "book," "ebook," or "ereader." Check for apps that can read EPUB files, then install the app of your choice.

What app/device combinations will read these EPUBs?

Different app/device combinations may display a particular e-book inconsistently. We tested the files using a limited number of app/device combinations, including the iBooks app on an iPad2, and the Kobo and Moon+ readers on a Samsung Galaxy Tab and ASUS Nexus 7.* We visually inspected the generated EPUBs using those combinations before posting the files; other app/device combinations may be more/less acceptable to individual users. To find an acceptable reading experience, it may be necessary to try different eReader apps.

I have a Kindle--how can I read the EPUB?

During the pilot, our understanding was that some Kindle devices could not read EPUB files, but did have the ability to display PDF files. Other Kindle devices like the Kindle Fire* gave users the ability to download apps for reading EPUB files. Consult your device's help guide for downloading apps and loading EPUB files.

How did NIST generate the EPUBs?

We generated EPUBs by pre-processing the original Microsoft Word files and then using the calibre tool* to convert them to EPUB. We used an XML editor to modify the files--adding metadata and modifying the table of contents. As noted in the calibre FAQ, this does not guarantee "valid" EPUB files, per the IDPF. Rather, the intent of calibre (and of this project) is to produce EPUBs that work on a wide variety of devices.


This was a pilot project by NIST, and we welcome your feedback.


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* DISCLAIMER: Certain commercial entities, equipment, or materials are identified in order to describe an experimental procedure or concept adequately. Such identification is not intended to imply recommendation or endorsement by NIST, nor is it intended to imply that the entities, materials, or equipment are necessarily the best available for the purpose.