Tomes Supported Formats

Tomes supports E-Books in a wide variety of file formats. Some formats are provided natively by Tomes while others are handled via an automatic conversion in ShelfServer. All supported files are transferred from ShelfServer using the same process (see Instructional Videos for a five-minute demonstration), and any necessary conversions are performed on-the-fly without any user intervention required.

Starting with Tomes 2.3, natively supported formats can be directly downloaded from websites on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. While ShelfServer can also still transfer native files from your collection, it's no longer required to download these files.

The Formats

The list of currently supported formats is below. Additional formats are added periodically, either with an instant ShelfServer update or in updated versions of the Tomes app itself. New versions of ShelfServer should be downloaded automatically when you WebStart the program on your computer. New versions of Tomes should appear in the AppStore automatically.

ePub Books - Natively Supported

Tomes supports the popular ePub standard with full support for images and tables of contents. ePub can be downloaded directly from many websites. Note that as with other formats, no DRM (encrypted files) is supported.

Plucker with images [.pdb] - Natively Supported

Plucker is originally a PalmOS format and is supported natively by Tomes. This is Tomes's "native" format, and many of the formats below are transparently converted to Plucker on the fly by the ShelfServer application. The Plucker format was designed for quick random access with an absolute minimum of seeking through the file required. Indexes are built when the file is created which make possible near instant seeking on the device.

Images are supported and automatically resized to a maximum 300 pixels in width. A full-size version of the image is also included to allow panning & zooming on the full resolution. The original character encoding is read from the setting contained in the Plucker file, but this default can be overridden on the phone if necessary. File content is compressed to use a minimum amount of space on the device.

ShelfServer provides an option which controls whether certain file types are converted to Plucker. It is recommended that this option be left at the default settings of "ALL". Many other file types, especially large files, will suffer degraded performance unless they're allowed to be converted to Plucker.

Plain Text [.txt] - Natively Supported

The most basic of formats, plain-text works best in plain ASCII or UTF-8 Unicode format. Other character encodings are supported and are automatically converted to UTF-8 on the fly. Most ISO Latin formats are supported without problem, but several Asian charactersets have been problematic in the past. For best results, please try to convert files in non-Roman charactersets to UTF-8.

HTML with images [.html] - Natively Supported

HTML files are supported, and any local images (on disk in the same directory as the HTML file) are automatically transferred along with the HTML itself. Remote images (with HTTP URL's on other servers) are always stripped out before transferring. Images are automatically resized a max of 300 pixels wide to save space on the iPhone. JavaScript is stripped completely. CSS sizing and font attributes are stripped to ensure that the page fits on the iPhone's screen and to allow font choices on the device to override any hard-coded into the file.

HTML in a variety of character sets is well supported in Tomes. For best results, files should contain a Content-Type meta tag which identifies the encoding of the file. If such a tag is missing, ShelfServer will do its best to detect the proper encoding and convert it to UTF-8.

An appropriate meta tag might look like the following in the <head> section of the HTML file:
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=windows-1251">

PalmDoc / AportisDoc [.pdb] - Natively Supported

This is the plain-text format of the old PalmOS platform. This format is transferred to the iPhone verbatim without any conversion. By default, the file is expected to be in Latin-1 encoding. Preferences on the phone allow this default to be overridden if necessary.

MobiPocket with images [.pdb, .prc, .mobi] - Natively Supported

MobiPocket files are supported with full image support as of Tomes version 1.1. Links are not yet supported, but should be in version 1.2. Files compressed with the newer HuffDict encoding are not yet supported. Encrypted (DRM'd) files which require a reader ID to open are not supported.

FictionBook2 with images [.fb2]

FB2 files are supported by an automatic conversion to HTML. Images are included. Links are not supported at this time.


Adobe's Portable Document Format is supported with basic image extraction.

Microsoft LIT

As of 07-Sep-2009, beta quality support for LIT is available. DRM'd files are of course not supported.

Compiled HTML with images [.chm]

Microsoft's compiled HTML format which combines HTML and images into a single file. This file type is converted to HTML before being transferred to the phone. Links are only partially supported.

MIME HTML with images [.mht]

MHT files created when Internet Explorer is set to save a web page as a single file. Converted to HTML along with its images.

Rich Text (currently with limited character set support) [.rtf]

Rich Text Files are fully supported in US-ASCII or UTF-8 encoding only at this time. Other character encodings usually work, but some sets cause problems. If you see weird characters, try converting the file to UTF-8 before downloading to your iPhone.

Word DOC

Word documents are translated to plain-text before transfer. All formatting information is discarded. Formats older than Word 97 are not currently supported. DOCX files are not currently supported.

ZIP Archives - internal folder structure is flattened, but supported files can be extracted

ShelfServer will extract supported files from inside ZIP archives.

Unsupported Formats

Digitally Restricted Media (DRM)

Due to legal restrictions in the USA, no files with DRM encryption are supported at this time. Many purchased Mobipocket files which require a reader ID to purchase and unlock fall into this category. In order to read these files, the reader must obtain an unencrypted version of the file.

Other PalmOS Formats

Not all PDB files are created equal. Every single file which could ever be transferred to a PalmOS device had the same file extensions -- either PRC (usually for applications) or PDB (usually for data). Everything from address book data, to video game high scores was stored in one of these file types.

Many E-book formats have been developed for the Palm over its life. Several of those formats are supported (see above), but several popular ones are NOT at this time supported. The most popular ones include iSilo and eReader.

Support for these formats may be added in the future, but they are proprietary file formats with little or no documentation available. At present, higher priority is given to improving feature support for currently supported formats. These additional Palm formats will be added as time permits.

Anything else not listed here

If it's not listed here, odds are it's not supported. Please feel free to send an email if there's a format you'd like to see added. Open formats which have well documented structures will be given preference simply due to the magnitude of time required to reverse engineer a closed format.

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