Publishing online flip books: useful tool or gimmick?

25 06 2010

Well-designed Web sites seem to me marvelously functional for conveying information online. And I find viewing pdf files on Adobe’s reader perfectly serviceable for sharing designed print documents. But there’s another format out there—so-called “flip books”—that can prove useful in some circumstances for disseminating documents. So, here’s a roundup of the available flip book publishing systems, including those for the iPad and other tablet computers.

The simplest such systems are those such as Youblisher that do nothing more than convert an existing pdf file into an online flip book with a page-turning feature. I gave Youblisher a try by uploading my booklet Working with Public Information Officers. While the flip book format doesn’t seem much more convenient than a pdf file, sharing is far simpler. You don’t have to actually transmit what is often a large document, but only provide a URL for users to view  it. And, you can embed the link in your Web site.

A more elaborate publishing system is Issuu, which advertises itself as not just an online flip book conversion service. Issuu also seeks to become a social networking site for documents, in which users can create an individualized library of  magazines and other publications and share them with others, such as colleagues. Here’s a review of Isuu that discusses its features. And here’s what Working with Public Information Officers looks like on Issuu. It’s a more accessible flip book format than Youblisher’s; for example, including thumbnails that let the reader find a specific page more easily.

More elaborate still are the systems for creating digital magazines. Many of these go beyond text, to allow embedding video, animations, and audio in the document. However, these are not free. Here’s a list of those systems, with links to demos, where available.

Besides such flip book systems, there are also those, such as PicaBoo that are specific for publishing photo books. Here’s a video overview of Picaboo. And there are many digital scrapbooking software programs for creating online scrapbooks.

Then there’s the Big Dog of publishing platforms, the Apple iPad. Unlike many of the flip book systems, Apple iPad publications need professional design and programming, and Apple offers guidance in developing such apps. Samir Kakar, of the content publisher Aptara offers this helpful article on “Publishers Considerations for iPad”

Another distributor of magazines for the iPad is Zinio, and it’s useful to take a look at their publications. Also, there’s the Sideways magazine publisher for tablet computers.

And for those who still like the feel of paper, there’s always the option of publishing a print magazine through a traditional printer or the boutique service  MagCloud and then adapting it to the Web as a flip book.

In an entirely different category of online publishing is KeeBoo, more than a flip book, but an authoring system for collecting, organizing and annotating all kinds of media—text, photos, illustrations, animations, videos, and Web sites—into multimedia e-books. These can be posted on a web site or distributed via e-mail. Here’s a flash demo of the system.



13 responses

28 06 2010
Joakim Ditlev

Well-researched post.
However, you are not touching on under what circumstances flip-books are useful, so please allow me to explain a bit.

The core benefit of flip-books, digital issues, e-papers or whatever you call them is that they are user-friendly and – in most cases – quick to load. That means lower bounce rates and more readers browsing from first to last page in the flip-book.
Another thing to highlight is the use of rich media that comes with most of the mid to high-end solutions. Converting a PDF to a flip-book is a good start, but by adding videos, links, forms and perhaps even optimizing content for online use the content creator can attract more readers who are much more willing to engage compared to website visitors.

For those of you interested in the metrics and benefits of flip-books, the Zmags blog that I am editing is a good resource.

29 06 2010

Thanks, Joakim! Some good points. I agree that the engagement factor in these media formats can be quite significant in the success of the communications. And thanks for the blog link.

30 06 2010
Nancy Ambrosiano

Nice posting, Dennis, and I agree, these are useful tools for getting reading materials in front of an online audience.

A nonprofit youth organization for which I volunteer has recently transferred its print magazine to this page-turner online format, printing all 4 issues to Olive Software’s package, but also doing a regular print run on two issues for those who can’t live without paper in hand. And as Joakim notes, one of the best things about the online magazine is the ability to add video, links, etc. It livens things up dramatically.

13 08 2010
John Georg

I should add the flip[at]once desktop software to the list above

9 09 2010
Page Flipper

Transforming your PDF materials into fully interactive flash e-Brochure becomes easier with page flipper online service. No need for additional software and conversion is so simplified that even people who don’t use Internet often can use it effectively. Don’t just think, use Page Flipper

8 11 2010
Ed Castillo
19 11 2010

I strongly sustain, just for the delicate effect they design.

15 02 2011

I strongly recommend It’s an simple, quick and cheap PDF converter.

27 07 2011
Valentina Mikhaylova

I think that flipping book publisher is a perfect software for creating nice publications(both online and offline ones).
It has a wide range of functions which help to make your original style of publication.So I give my vote to

16 02 2012

I would add tools for making flip page ebooks from pdf files. It’s fast, easy to use and cheap.

20 02 2012

Kvisoft flippage software is another useful to make it:

2 05 2012
Ioannis Terpsidis

great online services producing flip books are and i personally prefer because it has great editing capabilities, produces a mobile version of the flip book, and can support google analytics for finding out visirs per page of the online publication

28 05 2014

If you consider a professional use, forget of Flip Builder from I’ve purchased the Professional verision. The software behaves erratic, I lost two big projects and plenty of time. Sadly, the support doesn’t exist. No single one of my questions was answered. Moreover the offline presentations without of your knowledge are connecting with some external IPs. Firewall an every of your clients computer will notify it and you will be accused for spyware distribution. Definitelly the Flip Builder isn’t a good deal.

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