The best way to publish a digital edition (spoiler: it’s not a flipbook)

Meet IssueM

When print publications go digital, they often turn to PDFs and flipbooks as the obvious solution. It’s a direct translation of their print layout, just posted to their website. The problem is that those formats aren’t really compatible with any of the ways the modern reader accesses content: through search, social, and on mobile. 

IssueM is a publishing framework that creates collected issues within WordPress. It is an invaluable tool for issue-based publishers and an unexpected, revenue-boosting boon for news-based article publishers. 

The end result of an IssueM publication is:

  • Searchable: the articles remain dynamic, independent entities, full of valuable content for search engines to access and index;
  • Shareable: each article can be shared individually as a link on social media, drawing readers back to the publication; and
  • Mobile-friendly: the layout lends itself to the mobile format, translating beautifully from one frame to the next.

It also works for every type of publisher. Veteran print publishers, digital start-ups, daily news publishers. You can publish articles, features, and opinions. Gather them into daily digests, monthly issues, quarterly editions. Build and create a whole new product line with themed or sponsored special issues.

IssueM works seamlessly with Leaky Paywall to protect the content and attract paid subscribers. It works with UniPress to make app publishing a breeze, opening up a whole new pool of readers.

Maybe the best part is that IssueM is easy to use. Publishers can gather disparate articles into a single issue with just the click of a button. Another click pushes the whole issue live all at once. 

And, even without the familiarity of a flipbook or PDF, readers can navigate the issue just like a print edition.

(And if you’ve really got your heart set on it, you can easily attach a flipbook or PDF for readers who prefer that type of experience.)

IssueM in action: Stone Soup Magazine

Meet Stone Soup Magazine. Stone Soup is a veteran children’s magazine that uses IssueM to publish its digital issue. 

The Stone Soup website is simple in its construction and rich in content. 

The homepage displays content from its creative, juvenile contributors as regular WordPress posts, publishing fresh and featured material with greater frequency than its official monthly release. 

The homepage leads readers to the current issue, which shows off a slideshow of cover art and displays a table of contents. 

Readers can then select the articles they wish to peruse. 

After two free articles, Leaky Paywall prompts readers to subscribe so they can continue reading. 

The subscription page gives them the option of purchasing a digital or print/digital bundle subscription. 

Stone Soup has also compiled more than 20 years of back issues into their issue archive. Available in either digital or PDF format, these back issues create a well of valuable content for subscribers. 

Stone Soup also uses UniPress to publish their content on iOS and Android apps, opening up a whole new subscriber base and improving the user experience. 

IssueM in action: The Business Journal, news publisher

The Business Journal is a daily news publisher based out of Youngstown, Ohio. They publish daily articles, biweekly issues, and quarterly, sponsored special issues. 


It all starts with the dozens of posts published everyday by The Business Journal on its site. These cover local business concerns, as well as advice, local politics and education, community enrichment features, and entertainment news. 

They also gather featured articles into a biweekly e-edition, available as dynamic articles or a flipbook. The E-Edition provides a topical table of contents in a sidebar to the easy, one-page scroll of the collected headlines. 

After three free articles (either on the regular News page or in the e-edition), The Business Journal prompts readers to sign in or provide their email address to become a free-level subscriber. 

A Special Issue

In The Business Journal’s e-edition archive, you will find, in addition to back issues, the quarterly special edition tied to “Brain Gain”, their youth and student-focused content. (More on Special Issues, generally, below.)

The special issue features both regular content and articles sponsored by The Business Journal’s partners. Sponsored articles or issues are another great way to earn extra revenue. Sponsors pay for the privilege of having their name and logo on your valuable content. Often, they’ll contribute to the pool of content as well. 

How IssueM works

Setting it up

The whole set-up is remarkably easy. When you install IssueM, it offers a new WordPress post type called ‘Articles’. Create a blank issue, upload your content into articles, assign the articles to your new issue, and click publish. 

(if you have UniPress up and running, the same click of that ‘publish’ button will automatically load your new issue into your iOS and Android apps. Automatic notifications can be set to ping existing readers in the app.)

Your past issues can be easily gathered into an archive, beautifully displayed by their cover art. 

Protecting the content

All of this content can be restricted by Leaky Paywall. 

Leaky Paywall is a  flexible metered paywall, which means that you can adjust the number of free articles on the meter from wide-open to completely closed. You can readjust it at any time, to find the right setting for both the season and your publication. 

Leaky Paywall allows the reader to choose which article (or articles) they will read on the meter, granting them control over their experience and guiding them to the content most likely to interest them. And even one free article means that search engines can index it all, boosting your search rankings. 

Collecting subscribers

Because IssueM preserves each article within an issue as a separate piece, those articles can also be shared individually across social media, according to the reader’s interest. Followers who trace the article back to your publication are then drawn into the metered cycle themselves. 

The IssueM-Leaky Paywall partnership allows the publisher to easily set up a subscription cycle that entices readers to join when their meter expires. From unregistered, to a free level, to a paid subscriber: the whole process can be optimized and automated to grow your subscriptions. 

Getting started with IssueM

The best part is that IssueM isn’t hard to set up. The basics can be found here: 

Advantages: Special Issues

Where IssueM really begins to show her hidden strength is when it comes to the creative ways to use the issue format. Special issues can be a revenue boost for any kind of publisher, magazine and news-based alike, as shown above by The Business Journal.

Because issues are so easy to create from even existing articles, building a special issue requires little more than an idea. Is it a holiday? Go over past articles – whether they’ve appeared in previous issues or have been published independently – and collect themed articles into a Mother’s Day Special or a Halloween Edition. 

This can be a particularly valuable tool for news publishers to create a new product to upsell. 

Gather past articles by theme (crime, local elections, students in the community) or by geography (neighborhood or town). As you publish relevant articles in real time, save them into a draft issue. 

When you have enough to fill that issue, you can sell it as a special issue, a one-off add-on to existing subscribers or unregistered users alike. 

That’s extra revenue, and possibly even new readers, without doing much more than clicking a few boxes. 

The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. 

Spotlight on Special Issues: Tea Journey

Tea Journey is a news publisher focused on the wide and wonderful world of tea. Long-form articles on the origins of, benefits provided by, and culture surrounding tea are published periodically on the main site. 

As the topic or occasion dictates, disparate articles are gathered into themed special issues.

After two free articles, readers are prompted to either register their email for three more premium articles or to subscribe to gain access to all articles and special issues. 

Advantages: Workflow

The lack of extra work is another one of the advantages that IssueM brings to your publication. 

Not only is it easy to use on its own, it integrates seamlessly with your apps, your email newsletter, and with Leaky Paywall. (And through Leaky Paywall, it can be integrated with any number of add-ons, functions, and services. Even your print fulfillment center can be brought into the fold with Leaky Paywall integrations.) 

All of them can be set to maximum automation (for publication, for email, for notifications, for payment reminders, and more). All of them run from the same WordPress dashboard. 

And, as detailed above, even extras like special issues can be created from existing content without going out of your way. 

All of your tools in one place, working together, creating a beautiful, profitable publication. 

Sounds pretty good, right?

Scratching the surface

The possibilities that exist with IssueM and her two partners are nearly endless. If the long list of tools and add-ons don’t cover your needs, customizations are always available through ZEEN101. 

Have any questions? Ask them.

Ready to get started? Do it! We can’t wait to see what you can do.

Learn how Leaky Paywall can help grow your subscription revenue