Digital Marketing Blog

Online FLipbook Creator vs. PDF
07 Nov 2016

What are the Benefits of an Online Flipbook Creator Compared to a PDF?

As a marketer or business owner, you need to find visually appealing ways of presenting information on your website.

Both PDFs and online flipbook creators can help you showcase your products and services, but it’s important not to confuse the two options.

In this post, let’s take a look at the differences between PDFs and online flipbooks so you can work out which option is best for you.


#1 What is a PDF?

#2 What is an online flipbook?

#3 Making the leap from PDFs to online flipbooks


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#1 What is a PDF?

The acronym PDF stands for Portable Document Format. It’s a type of file format invented by the software company Adobe.

Customers can view these documents hosted on your site in a PDF viewer, such as Adobe Reader, Foxit Reader, or another PDF reader application. Some browsers even have a plugin, which allows visitors to read PDFs hosted on your site without having to open a separate application.

The idea behind the PDF is that it allows document creators to present information to viewers in a way that always looks the way it was designed to look. The layout of the document is independent of the applications, software, hardware, and operating system used by the viewer. Over the years, PDFs have been used to present an enormous amount of useful information, including technical information, product catalogs, reports, and many other things.

As a result of the popularity of the format, almost every computer now has Adobe Reader installed, allowing everyone to quickly and easily view the PDFs they find online. Let's have a closer look at some of the pros and cons of using this kind of document and viewer. 

Related read: How To Improve Your Online Flipbooks (Step-by-Step Quick Guide)


Most marketers work with search engine optimization on a daily basis. It's become the basis for working with digital marketing.

In that respect, you don't have to worry about using PDFs in your marketing as they are fully indexable by search engines. However, just because a file is indexable, it doesn't mean that it is necessarily the best approach. 


You just have to prepare and design your document and save it as a PDF from the program that you use, for instance, Word, InDesign or something else. And then you're ready to publish your document online. 


With PDFs, you also have some options to help your document being found by search engines.

Open your file and edit the document meta data under document preferences. Although meta descriptions don't have much impact on SEO anymore, I recommend that you see this option to write a compelling text that will prompt searchers to choose exactly your link.

Otherwise, search engines will write the text for you and you don't have control of what's presented anymore. In addition to that PDFs can contain links and indexable content if you make sure not to create content, such as text, as images. 

Get the 3 simple tips to make your flipbooks SEO friendly


As with any tool you use to get your work done, there's most likely a downside too.

The same goes for using PDFs to create your online documents like online catalogs, brochures, and magazines.

Let's take a look at some of the most obvious disadvantages of using this kind of presentation for online publishing.

1. Poor navigation

One of the concerns about using PDFs for online content is the poor navigation options.

For instance, if your document happens to rank highly in search engines and a user finds it through organic search, the chances are that the user will have a hard time navigating further and find other relevant material on your website.

The integration with your other marketing activities on your website is simply non-existing. 

2. Lengthy documents

PDF documents that contain a lot of pages are often hard to navigate. Companies publish these kind of documents on their website that range from a few pages to hundreds of pages.

Those large documents are cumbersome to navigate, in addition to being hard for the reader to remember which pages contained what and they need to go back to the first couple of pages to find the table of contents if such a table is included. 

3. TIMe-CONSUMING Scrolling

If your PDF is long, it can be quite time-consuming to scroll through the document to find, what you are looking for. 

4. Tedious updating

Another element of using PDFs to publish online documents is the slow process of updating of URLs and links to your document when you make changes to the document.

Particularly those that have large product catalogs, that want to provide digitally, experience lengthy work processes to update the link to product IDs which cannot be automated with the use of PDFs.


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5. Slow download time

In relation to the above, if the PDF is very large, it comes with a slow download time. As time is money, it can be frustrating to wait for the PDF to actually appear on the screen.

6. Lack of analytics 

In today's digital world and search for optimization and effectiveness in work processes, PDFs are not that helpful.

It's probably the greatest disadvantage of this kind of document and presentation that there is no easy way to track how readers interact with your content.

Unlike with online flipbooks, it is much harder to understand how a visitor is engaging with a PDF publication. This isn't ideal. 

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 #2 SO, What is an Online Flipbook?

Online flipbooks aren’t as different from PDFs as you might think.

In fact, creating a PDF is the first step in creating an online flipbook. An online flipbook creator can convert PDF to flipbook, allowing you to add many enrichments along the way.

These extra features are one of the main differences between the two. 

In simple terms, a flipbook is basically a PDF viewer equipped with multiple ways of enriching a PDF.

You can add all kinds of interactive features, including:

  • Links to relevant pages on your website that you want visitors to check out,
  • Pop-ups
  • Mouseover text
  • Animations
  • Videos
  • eCommerce integration

You can also track how visitors interact with all of these elements.

Benefits of an Online Flipbook

You may still be wondering:

Why would you choose to offer your website visitors an online flipbook instead of a PDF?

After all, it is technically possible to embed interactive features into the latter.

Well, unfortunately, it isn’t possible to view an interactive PDF online, which means that your clients will need to download the file to their computer and open it in the viewer of their choice.

This can be extremely irritating, particularly to customers who don’t have fast connections, as interactive PDFs are usually very large files that can take a long time to download.

1. Quick load times

Don’t underestimate the damaging impact of forcing clients to go through the extra steps of clicking download and waiting for a large file to transmit to their computer.

Today’s online browsers expect to be able to access the information they need instantly.

Almost half of all consumers expect web pages to take no more than two seconds to load.

If critical information about your brand or products is locked away inside a file that takes more than a few seconds to download, the chance of anyone reading it will dramatically decrease.

2. Enrich with animations and lead generation tools

Online flipbooks, on the other hand, can be displayed in a browser, which removes as many barriers as possible to consumers viewing the information contained inside them.

They can also be enhanced with a range of features that help to increase conversion rates, such as integration with your eCommerce system.

By making it as easy as possible for customers to make a purchase while they browse through your online catalog, you are able to increase sales and revenue for your business.

Another interesting feature is the lead generation tools with your online flipbooks like Pop-ups.

3. Download, save or print it

For those customers who prefer to have a downloadable PDF copy of your online catalogs and other online documents, this option is still available.

From within the online flipbook, viewers can choose the option to download the book and save it to their computer as a PDF, giving them the best of both worlds.

They can even print it directly from within the online flipbook viewer if they'd like.

4. Integrate with your online shop

As a measure to turn browsers into customers, you can integrate your digital flipbook with your eCommerce platform. This allows customers to shop directly from your online catalog


An often overseen aspect of the digital flipbook is the time-saving feature. Often people believe that it's the opposite. 

Yes, you will have to use some time on adding enrichments, but in the long-run, a digital flipbook is a time saver on many levels. 

  • Instant update of your digital flipbook - big advantage for sales people in the field
  • Excellent search functionality reduces time on finding important information, which is critical in e.g. large product catalogs
  • By using our custom link-import you save hours and hours of manual labor making links
The crucial aspect of providing value to a potential customer is that the consultant is capable of answering questions - even complicated questions - right here and right now. iPaper makes this possible for us. 

states Judith Vestmark Hansen, Marketing Coordinator at KJV.

Judith - Testimonial.png

6. Present better messages, environments and tell a story

A digital flipbook gives you more opportunities than a website. For instance, you can use the format of your corporate storytelling, which connects to your audiences feelings. 

As explained by Brian Klindt, Online Coordinator at Fleggaard

If we didn't have this solution, we would lose out to our competitors. In the catalogs, we can make more beautiful and inspirational combinations & environments. Our catalogs also give us an opportunity to present better messages than you can do on a web shop. 

7. Track Readers' Behavior

Monitoring your readers' behavior and increasing the knowledge you have about your target audience is probably the biggest advantage of using online flipbooks compared to PDFs.

Most online publishing platforms provide in-depth statistics of how your readers interact with your online documents, such as:

  • Time spent with the document
  • Number of visitors
  • Pages viewed per user
  • What time of day your users read your documents
  • Which countries visitors come from, which platforms, browsers, and devices they use

You are also able to dig into which links, pictures, animations, icons, and pages are the most popular with the heatmap functionality what shows exactly where visitors has clicked in your document.

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To some types of companies, the cost of using an online flipbook creator compared to PDFs can be an issue.

Most companies already use PDFs and may be wondering why they should spend money on yet another marketing tool.

Pricing in that respect is always relative to the goals you are trying to achieve.

Are you seeking to increase the number of leads you collect from your online material? Or are you simply trying to attract readers and get your brand in front of your target group?

Either way, prioritizing will always be a factor. Most digital publishing platforms offer free trial licenses or even a free account where you can use the platform free of charge with many features included.

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Make sure to check up on whether the digital publishing platform you chose, demands that you commit to the product for a given period of time. Most providers, like iPaper, work with commitment agreements on a monthly basis.

#3 Making the Leap From PDFs to Online Flipbooks

If you already give information to your clients in the form of PDFs, you shouldn’t find it very difficult to make the leap to using online flipbooks instead. All you need to do is use an online flipbook creator such as iPaper to convert PDF to flipbook format. You can customize the flipbooks as much as you like, adding interactive features that can enhance the experience that the flipbook provides to your readers.

There’s no need to worry that switching from PDFs to flipbooks will be too difficult for your business to manage. The digital publishing platform tool provided by iPaper is designed to be easy to use, even for people who don’t have advanced technical skills or knowledge of HTML. If you’re interested in making your catalogs and brochures even better for your customers, why not give online flipbooks a try? You can request a free trial with iPaper's digital publishing platform today.


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About the author

Kim Lauritsen

Kim Lauritsen

Since 2008 Kim has helped hundreds of customers in dozens of different industries achieve real, measurable results when it comes to using online publications to land new clients, generate sales leads and increase revenue.

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