Do Flipbook E-Editions Really Work?

Flipbooks: Yea or Nay?

Flipbooks (or e-editions) were an early development in field of digital publications. It was a logical step: they were a perfect replica of the print magazine, right down to the flipping pages (and sound effect).

As the digital world has advanced, flipbooks have fallen out of favor for many good reasons. But that doesn’t mean that they are completely obsolete.

In fact, flipbooks can still have their place in your digital issue strategy—so long as they are a complement and not the foundation.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.

The Case For Flipbooks

Right off the bat, we can all agree that e-edition flipbooks can be beautiful. They are typically a high-resolution rendering of your exact magazine or newspaper edition. If you feature a lot of high quality images and photos, the appeal is obvious.

Plus, they’re a good way to sell a print subscription. People get a genuine feel for what your print magazine is like.

Furthermore, they’re easy to publish. Once you have the flipbook framework in place, you just upload your PDF as-is.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of flipbooks is that they satisfy your advertisers. Advertising is a source of revenue for most publishers. And many advertisers spend a great deal of money developing and placing their print ads.

They want those ads prominently displayed, in all their glory, in every incarnation of your magazine. Flipbooks do exactly that.

So, politically, flipbooks are an easy sell.

The Case Against Flipbooks

The downside of flipbooks is this: for all their beauty, they are practically invisible to your readers.

  1. Google searches don’t rank them strongly in results pages.
  2. They can’t be gracefully shared on any social media.
  3. They don’t translate well to mobile. 

They are, in fact, the opposite of what the modern reader is looking for.

Modern readers want quick, instant access to the best information. They trust search engines to help them find what they need. The new potential reader doesn’t know you have published the answer to their question unless your answer (article) shows up in the Google search.

Modern readers want to be able to follow what their friends are reading and share their own sources on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.

Modern readers want to be able to access articles on their phones, without having to pinch and scrunch and learn how to read your article.

They want real web-based articles.

A Perfect Example

Elevator World provides both individual web articles and flipbooks. They run a metered paywall for all their content to ensure search ranking and social discovery. And they lock down their flipbooks.


A Compromise

What should you do?

  1. Publish all your articles in a standard web-based format
  2. Organize your articles by issue category or use IssueM
  3. Use Real3d flipbook to control your flipbooks locally on your website. Learn more about integrating flipbooks. Or simply publish PDFs for better readability.
  4. Ditch your 3rd party hosted flipbook provider
  5. Embed your Flipbooks on your website and lock them down for subscribers only. Meter your web article content and lock down issues with Leaky Paywall.

Flipbooks have their uses, but they cannot be the central feature of your digital strategy.

They may not even be the best supplement. A PDF version of your publication is actually easier to read and since PDFs are large files they tend to not get shared. We find that more readers will download and read a PDF before they’ll read a flipbook.

But the absolute best use of a flipbook (or PDF) is to be able to tell your advertisers “yes we do have a e-edition where your advertising will be displayed.”

Want to find out more about how to create a powerful foundation for your digital edition strategy? Let’s chat.

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