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.
- AxMag with a sample flip book
- eMag Creator with demo videos
- FlipBookGuru for flip books and photo albums, with a sample flip book (offers enhanced features such as bookmarks, highlighting, and notes)
- Flash Page Flip with online demos (enables video, animation, interactive demos, links and sound)
- Flip Builder with sample flip book
- FlippingBook with sample flip books
- Fresh Flash Catalog with a sample catalog (enables video, animations, interactive demos, links, and sound)
- PageFlip with a sample book (enables video, sound, hotspot popup messages and links)
- TurnPage with sample books
- V-Mags with sample books
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”
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.