Whether the subject matter is for the Internet marketing community or for a niche market, ebooks are relatively easy to produce, distribute, and support when compared to software, audio, and video products, and physical shipped products. One of the more frequent technical questions is which format to use, PDF or a Windows executable file. A PDF file is in Portable Document Format, which is a format developed by Adobe. Portable, as the name implies, means the file format can be read on more than one type of computer. A Windows executable on the other hand is a program with the contents of the ebook embedded directly into the program itself.
Each format offers certain benefits, but the trend has been towards PDF files recently. For starters, PDF can be read on both Windows and Mac machines, while an .exe will only run on Windows. Mac users are roughly ten percent (at a minimum) of any market that many marketers aren't willing to ignore. In the past, the only way to create a PDF document was with Adobe's Acrobat software, and it's a rather expensive product to this day, selling for several hundred dollars. Compare that with some excellent ebook compilers which sell for less than $50, and you can see how marketers who are just getting started may be tempted to save some money with the .exe format.
But it's no longer necessary to spend hundreds of dollars for Adobe Acrobat. There are several free and low cost alternatives that will let you create a PDF format document. PDF documents can be created from Microsoft Word easily. Just get your ebook looking like you want it in Word, then print it to the PDF "printer". An .exe file is typically a compiled web site, which means you must set up your information just as if it were on the web, with multiple HTML pages, HTML coding, and so on.
Now this can be easy to do as well, with software like Frontpage or Dreamweaver. But those take a learning curve, while even most non-techies can figure out Word enough to create a document. You also need to remember that many computer users are no longer comfortable downloading any .exe file to their computer. Their well-founded fears of viruses, spyware, and adware often make them hesitant to click on any program with an .exe extension, even from someone they trust. Virtually all Internet marketers, and most surfers, are familiar with the PDF format, and aren't as resistant to a download.
Don't forget support issues - you will most likely have far more support from an .exe file due to compatibility or system problems. A PDF document requires only an Acrobat reader, which is a free download from Adobe, and which many surfers already have on their machines. For your readers, a PDF document offers convenience in navigation because of bookmark controls built into the Acrobat Reader. The navigation within an .exe file is as good as the HTML pages it displays. The PDF format is tops in printing too, because the reader has a built-in printing interface, while .exe files often need to be printed page by page.
There are even software tools now that will let you easily rebrand PDF files. In the past, this was perhaps the .exe file's biggest advantage, but now it seems that too is gone.