18 Replies Latest reply on Dec 11, 2017 11:55 AM by John Mensinger

    Interactive PDF or Flipbook Software?


      I'm researching for a client whether to recommend purchasing a high-priced flip book software for converting their technical textbook PDFs to more user friendly content for a variety of devices. These textbooks are 4-color, with often 1-3 graphic illustrations on each page, so recreating the wheel or going to ebook is not an option. 


      But it seems that flip book software is just a glorified PDF and not sure whether it is necessary, worth the cost, or worth me having to work on a PC instead of my beloved Mac (at least one of the better Flipbook programs doesn't run on Mac and I've tried running Windows on my Mac in the past and NOT a way to go).


      Main features I would want is:

      - Page turning

      - Embedding of occasional videos

      - Not recreating the layout of these long books (some are in the 400-600 page range)

      - Ability to magnify as needed to read (knowing some of these pages will be on an iPhone, I know magnification is necessary)


      It seems that flip book software allows for only two magnifications and this won't cut it, they have to be able to zoom in as little or as much as they want. There isn't at this time a huge demand for these interactive books, so the ideal thing would be to modify existing PDFs or add a few simple features to the original Indesigns and generate a snazzier PDF.


      Based on all of this, wouldn't an Interactive PDF created out of Indesign be the way to go for what I've described?


      P.S. Sorry for the lengthly question, but know that often you need this detail for accurate answers, opinions or options.

        • 1. Re: Interactive PDF or Flipbook Software?
          Test Screen Name Most Valuable Participant

          My opinion (which is very strong on this matter) is that flip book software is the exact opposite of user friendly. PDF files have good viewers with lots of flexibility as to window size, scaling, page views; there are PDF viewers for mobile devices. People learn how to use them and know how to view any PDF. While each flip book requires learning how to use new controls.


          Yet, there are still people out there lured into paying for software to deliver a second rate experience, sometimes even delivered as EXE files.


          The key factor seems to be "page turning". Really? I've never missed it in all the thousands of PDFs I've read...


          It sometimes appeals to managers with very little computer experience, who don't spend all day trying to read documentation. In this case it seems the target audience is a technical one, making the justification even smaller.


          Just say no!


          (I should add that videos is a BIG problem with PDF on tablets. I recommend providing the videos offline. Or considering an HTML5 presentation. Managers like this even less because they cannot control, page by page, what their customer sees).

          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Interactive PDF or Flipbook Software?
            BobLevine MVP & Adobe Community Professional

            Couldn’t agree more.





            1 person found this helpful
            • 3. Re: Interactive PDF or Flipbook Software?
              Test Screen Name Most Valuable Participant

              Acrually, I find I have more to say, the very thought of flipbooks does raise my blood pressure.

              Page turning. An animated affect which delays navigation. Stealing my time!


              You should also consider how easy it is to find text, and navigate, and return to page 273 quickly, and whether an interactive index is supported. (A lot of this is down to authoring technique; it takes a lot of time to create an effective large interactive book, it isn't a quick adjustment to a paper book.)


              The same managers who love the slick effect of taking 10 seconds to change page also tend to think that everyone will open their book at the start and read it to the end.


              Going away to cool down now...!

              1 person found this helpful
              • 4. Re: Interactive PDF or Flipbook Software?
                Cathleen24 Level 1

                THANK you so much for your replies. I appreciate the information as I'm a print only person and I don't want to steer the client wrong as he's been an incredible person in my life, both professionally and personally.


                My lingering question is this: If I were to take a PDF of one of our smaller products, a "Top 10" as it were to do a test, you mentioned there are different readers out there. Is that the key? To somehow say to your customer: What platform do you want to read this on? If so, please use XYZ reader program.


                Removing page turning from my "must haves" above, it would be the ability to embed video. I assume you are saying, I don't embed the video, but rather insert a link to a URL where the video is stored.


                I'm not a dummy (as my questions may appear), but being 100% print focused for years, I'm having a hard time getting a definitive answer about what will and won't be "interactive" in a PDF I create. And you are very definitive in your replies, so I'd love to hear more from you based on the above questions.


                Also, Bob Levine, as he's had some definitive dislike of Flipping book software.

                • 5. Re: Interactive PDF or Flipbook Software?
                  Test Screen Name Most Valuable Participant

                  In recommending software be cautious. Be prepared to advise people who need advice (because the territory is new). And be prepared to note the viewers which, for one reason or another, just won't work. Otherwise, there is no reason to interfere: people are apt to become annoyed if you tell them they need to use a different piece of software for reading PDFs - you are requiring that they learn a new interface (like a flipbook in a way...)


                  If your definition of interactive goes beyond "internal links and bookmarks" you may find serious limits in available PDF viewers, especially on mobile platforms. The nonavailability of Flash, needed for a lot of this stuff (behind the scenes) is a real problem. Essentially the "P" for portable in PDF breaks the moment you try and do fancy stuff.


                  Again, seriously think about HTML5 if you want to go beyond this. I do understand this has real culture shock implications for people immersed in the well ordered world of page-at-a-time design.


                  If you don't already do so, spend some time getting information from works of this sort of scale, on PC and mobile device: see how it tends to be done. Not every publisher has made good decisions, but you should quickly appreciate which ones will be painful to use - and it might be surprising.

                  • 6. Re: Interactive PDF or Flipbook Software?
                    Cathleen24 Level 1

                    Thanks for your information. I'm going to bookmark this page when I write my recommendation. One benefit I have is that another client is my brother who bought me several devices to test on when I looked into this a couple years ago and abandoned. Only thing I don't have to text on is an Android phone.


                    Again, thank you. It will be interesting to see if others weigh in, but you've been very helpful. I especially like your advice about not "telling" clients what to use. We probably will not even go down this path as it would be a product that is sold and if it doesn't work, that's a whole can of worms I don't think I'd want to deal with. And there's not a huge demand that I'm aware of for digital versions of these textbooks.

                    • 7. Re: Interactive PDF or Flipbook Software?
                      BobLevine MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                      The best thing you can do is keep it as simple as possible while still adding the interactivity that you need.




                      As noted, mobile PDF readers are all over the place and the best ones are not free so test, test and then test some more.

                      • 8. Re: Interactive PDF or Flipbook Software?
                        jmvrankin Level 2

                        Issue 74 of InDesign Magazine has a feature article surveying the various flipbook solutions out there: http://indesignsecrets.com/issues/issue-74-flipbooks

                        • 9. Re: Interactive PDF or Flipbook Software?

                          I actually can't agree with you. I do think that flipbook software is actually really easy to use and most of them are also free. I know some time passed since you answered this question and maybe that is also the difference, as today most flipbook software is very simple to use. Most of them also offer a free plan or a free trial - this way you have the chance to get to know the flipbook software before paying for it.


                          I definitely think using such a software it is worth a try.

                          • 10. Re: Interactive PDF or Flipbook Software?
                            SJRiegel Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                            I don't this the ease of making a flipbook is really the point. As an end-viewer of the files, I don't like flipbooks because I do not want to the annoyance of having to wait for a "cute" effect to play every time I go to a new page.

                            • 11. Re: Interactive PDF or Flipbook Software?
                              Test Screen Name Most Valuable Participant

                              I agree 100%. Ease of making is irrelevant. The end result sends me away from that web site - a lost customer. Have you studied the impact on retention of using non-standard presentation? Has your boss?

                              • 12. Re: Interactive PDF or Flipbook Software?

                                Does anyone know of a flipbook PDF maker that allows you to link articles as well? The ones I am finding only allow zooming, not actual embedded links.

                                • 13. Re: Interactive PDF or Flipbook Software?

                                  This is so simple, just do it. It looks good and keeps everyone happy.

                                  Here's a book of mine on issuu.com

                                  Taking Care by Bruce Daly - issuu

                                  • 14. Re: Interactive PDF or Flipbook Software?

                                    maybe you want to try Yumpu or Instant Flipbook? I used this software and I know for sure that they allow embedding links. If you need any further information or help (as how embedding links works) let me know, I am more than happy to help out.

                                    • 15. Re: Interactive PDF or Flipbook Software?
                                      Test Screen Name Most Valuable Participant

                                      That's not the worst I've seen but it's still a flipbook. WHY?? I can read PDFs and I don't have to poke around to find the  buttons to do it. Dreadful.

                                      • 16. Re: Interactive PDF or Flipbook Software?
                                        BobLevine MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                                        Agreed. All of these things are just solutions in search of a problem that does not exist.

                                        • 17. Re: Interactive PDF or Flipbook Software?
                                          Test Screen Name Most Valuable Participant

                                          No the problem exists. Work is commissioned by people with so little experience of using the computers and internet that a PDF seems "hard". So some enterprising person sells them flipbooks as the "solution". The sort of thing Dilbert's boss would choose.

                                          • 18. Re: Interactive PDF or Flipbook Software?
                                            John Mensinger Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                            Having a simulated physical book on a computer screen is like hand-cutting wood with an unplugged power saw.