Best free Issuu alternative? [Review of 11 Sites like Issuu]

Issuu is a well-known publisher of digital magazines but what if I told you there were alternatives to Issuu? In fact, there are plenty of magazine sites like Issuu; plenty of Issuu alternatives and I’ve tried a few of them in my time. My favorite of the Issuu alternatives and the one I use most is the free software Yumpu but let me tell you how I came to that opinion.

issuu alternative

As you know I publish a local magazine, so I often get queries from frustrated blog readers asking for tips.

So, what do I tell them?

I tell them to cut costs, not quality.

I tell them to take their magazine to a bigger market.

I empathize with their anguish.

And I tell them about the success I’ve had with platforms like Issuu and sites like Yumpu, Calameo or FlipSnack.

Expand your readership and cut costs with a digital edition

There was a time when I thought I’d have to stop writing. Or at least stop editing a paper publication.

Costs were spiraling out of control as our readership was plummeting.

Advertisers were looking elsewhere or negotiating cheaper deals. We looked to be heading for our final edition.

So, we got a lot of coffee and ordered in pizza. We sat down and had a crisis meeting. And while we were waiting for the pizza what did we all do?

We got out our mobile phones.

That was the lightbulb moment. Our readers have all moved online.

They want to read on their mobile phones and tablets.

Not on a scruffy bit of paper, they have to dig out of their bags.

A publisher like Issuu connects you to your readership

So, we had a solution, but it was also really a problem.

So maybe it was just a problem.

Anyway, we knew we needed to go online – but how?

And that was when we got our second lightbulb moment.

As you know, I’m a Red Sox fan. And what I’d got up was a digital copy of their latest magazine. And I thought: Could we do that?

A quick web search later for pages like the Red Sox magazine and I’d found Jumpu alternative Issuu to create digital magazines and flip books.

What is Issuu?

Homepage of Issuu
Homepage of Issuu

Issuu is a digital publishing platform (so no download needed).

You upload your content – they accept most major file formats like PDF documents and Microsoft – and they turn it into a digital magazine.

Now unlike some Issuu alternatives such as SlideShare, you can create a wholly immersive interactive digital publication.

Or perhaps simulation would be a better way of putting it.

You can turn the pages by flipping – just like a paper copy.

You even get little rustles while page flipping.

Of course, the first question everyone asked was “Is Issuu free?” to which I had to answer “yes kinda”.

Free vs Pro

The flipbook software Issuu does offer a free plan.

We investigated what is Issuu free.

They call it the “Basic” plan and quite frankly it is.

Oh, you can get your PDF turned into a flipbook and share it on social media, but that’s about it.

You can’t even get any analysis of who’s reading your magazine (vital if you’re selling advertising, which is why I ended up looking for other sites like Issuu).

And you’re limited in how big the publication can be, unlike some Issuu alternatives.

There are three paid levels: Starter, Premium, and Optimum.

As a serious publisher, we were probably going to need the highest level if we went with Issuu.

Which functions do exist?

So, the next thing we wanted to know was how does Issuu work?

It’s actually pretty simple.

You sign up for an account (we took a free trial of the service to see if it would work out for us).

Once you have an account, you can easily upload your publication to their servers.

This is common across all flip book software.

So, we now knew that on Issuu how to create a magazine wasn’t going to make more work for us.

All we had to do was upload our existing soft copy.

And then investigated in Issuu how to use all the features.

Compared to some Issuu alternatives there isn’t actually that much to see.

There’s the iOS and Android Apps which we wanted.

Some alternatives don’t offer these as native apps.

There’s a shareable full-screen reader.

And you can share with your social media network by using the social sharing buttons. So we could alert our readers to new editions through sharing on Facebook, Twitter or whatever – you can also do this on some alternatives of Issuu too, by the way.

You can add video and shopping links to your page.

It tries to identify links, but you still need to check they’ve all been picked up correctly as part of the editing cycle.

Some sites like Issuu are more geared towards shopping, others are more geared towards online magazines.

And you can schedule publications which can be useful for editorial reasons. You can also sell copies through their system – something, not all alternatives to Issuu offer.

How does Issuu make money? Is Issuu legal?

Of course, we don’t want to associate ourselves with any dodgy dealings, so we investigated the background of the business Issuu a little.

We even looked up what does Issuu stand for? (As far as we can tell it’s just a play on the word “Issue”)

They make their money by selling subscriptions and taking a commission if you sell copies.

They were founded in Copenhagen but have been around a while.

Now they’re global, they’re incorporated in the US, so it seems pretty legit.

What is Issuu used for?

We really wanted to find a digital publisher which is exactly what Issuu is.

It has around 20,000 digital publications a day, so it’s not a small operator, unlike some alternatives to Issuu

And it offers a chance for new readers to connect with you through their discover platform.

But there’s no reason you shouldn’t use their flipping magazine technology to create digital magazines, brochures, look books, catalogs or flyers.

Are there more websites like Issuu?

Of course, we didn’t go with the first publishing service we found.

We did our research and found that yes, there are many, many, many more like this Issuu. Services like Issuu, 3d Issue or Behance abound.

And some Issuu alternatives like Yumpu offer much more for free.

Like Issuu but free?


Other sites like Issuu offer quite varied levels of service, and some of these alternatives are actually free.

We looked at lots and lots and LOTS of sites similar to Issuu. Some of them like Youblisher, Publitas, Next Issue and iPaper didn’t make the cut.

So, we arrived at our short list of Issuu alternatives and did some comparisons.

We looked at different great  flipbook creator alternatives and compared them against each other. vs … , … versus Flippingbook, and so on.

And here it is.

Our detailed review of websites similar to Issuu.

11 Issuu alternatives in comparison

Issuu vs Bote

Website of Bote
Website of Bote

I’m still not sure if Bote are new or if I just hadn’t heard of them, but what they have to offer makes them a great Issuu alternative.

Unlike some publishers, including Issuu, they don’t rely on a digital bookshelf of their own to host your work.

Instead, they use Amazon Web Services (AWS) to remotely host your documents, letting you choose how to publicize it yourself.

While you might not get so much organic traffic, I actually like the sound of being in the driving seat of my publication.

Plus, AWS are well known for having 99.9% uptime, which means there’s little to no chance of our publications going offline at a bad moment.

The rendering from PDF is super quick, and keeps all the tags and titles of your media intact so you don’t have to fuss about putting them back in.

It’s pretty cool, and there’s not much I don’t love about it.

They even give you the function to share all or just a part of your publication by email or to social channels via their ‘one click share’.

Seeing as there’s a generous free trial, fully featured of course, we’ll be trying out a few publications on Bote to see how they go.

Oh, and if you do decide to stay on, we thought their ongoing pricing was very reasonable too.

Issuu vs Flipboard

Homepage of Flipboard
Homepage of Flipboard

At first, glance Flipboard seems like a close alternative to Issuu.

And we were attracted by the bold statement that it is free for everyone to use.

But it quickly became apparent that Flipboard is more about being part of a publishing social media network than being a publisher like Issuu.

They are good are allowing you to share your content and push traffic towards your website, but they simply weren’t what we were looking for.

Issuu vs FlippingBook

Homepage of FlippingBook

More of an Issuu like pdf viewer than a digital publisher FlippingBook got our attention as it promised to work on any platform using HTML5.

And it integrates with Google Analytics so we could see where our clicks were coming from through our existing analytic system.

In fact, it all looked pretty good until we looked at the pricing structure.

Only the advanced plan offers unlimited digital publications which was a bit of a shock.

But not as much of a shock as when we got to the bottom of the page and saw the prices.


We were confident we didn’t need to pay that much for the service we wanted!

Issuu vs iMag

iMag Website
iMag Website

iMag really sell themselves on the analytics side of what they do.

That sounded good to us; after all, the more people find our publication, the more people read it too!

So, it works by simply uploading your PDF, which kicks in the iMag ‘special algorithm’.

Apparently, this does some SEO magic to make the publication better by Google’s standards, which is cool.

Once optimized, they stick your publication in ‘powerful content hubs’, which they promise will shove it to the top of Google results. Hmm. Not sure I’m quite sold on that promise just yet!

On the upside, the editor is really cool, with lots of advanced features to help us create awesome publications.

What did get my goat a little was when it came to the pricing. Named ‘Pro’ the basic package sounded too good to be true, at $1 for a trial and then $15 a year ongoing. It was too good to be true.

For a company that sells itself so much on Google and SEO, they only include the Google Analytics with the ‘Business’ and above packages.

They are a little more expensive, but still, they are a great Issuu alternative for us.

Issuu vs Magcloud

Homepage of Magcloud

As the editor, I was pretty excited when we loaded up Magcloud’s page.

Not only are they a digital publisher but they can also print high-quality physical copies too.

Now that got me to prick up my ears a little as we’d have the option of only needing to deal with one supplier for both our online and physical publishing.

They even offer you templates to ensure that your pdf file meets their layout requirements.

But, as they are more geared up to creating paper copies, the options for adding interactivity to the online magazine is limited to standard hyperlinks.

Although it’s possible to share links to the flip book, it’s not possible to embed a viewer into your own webpage or through social media.

Issuu vs Scribd

Homepage of Scribd

More like Flipboard than an Issuu alternative, Scribd has a Netflix style business marketing model.

Readers pay a fixed fee for “all you can read” access and publishers get paid if their content gets read.

It offered us the chance to be brought in front of a wider audience – but let’s face it as a local magazine we mainly get local readers.

We needed more control over distribution than Scribd could offer us.

Issuu vs Uberflip

Homepage of Uberflip

Of all the websites like Issuu Uberflip is one of the Issuu alternatives that offers the most in the way of analysis.

It’s aimed primarily at sales and is a content management system.

It allows your whole team access to the content you’ve created, and when it’s read, it generates a page by page analysis of how it was read.

We’re not ready to push our content fully onto the digital stage, so again, we decided this wasn’t the right product for the task we had in mind.

Issuu vs YUDU

Homepage of Yudu
Homepage of Yudu

YUDU is Issuu similar in that it offers a online publishing platform that reaches out across all digital devices including mobiles, tablets, iPad and Iphone and computers. It even works with different operating systems like Android and iOS devices.

They offer the option of creating your “own” app to share your content with your subscribers based on their own app framework.

Files published through YUDU can contain text, links, audio, graphics and video and each file is optimized for the viewer it’s being viewed in.

There’s even a real print-replica version for laptops and desktops with HD graphics.

The big turnoff for us for this one was that there is no pricing information freely available.

We always get a little suspicious if there’s not even a “from” price to compare.

Issuu vs Yumpu

Homepage of the Issuu alternative Yumpu
Homepage of the Issuu alternative Yumpu

“Ah now we’re onto something,” I thought as I opened up their webpage.

Firstly, it promised that it was 100% free.

That’s always a good way to make me happy.

Then it mentioned that it has a bit under 1million users and there is no download needed.

That’s a big number of people who are also, presumably, happy.

Yumpu allows you to integrate sound files, auto-detects links and can even embed videos into your PDF files. (Which are converted to flipping magazines quicker than I can make coffee. Although good coffee should never be rushed)

And their free account has as much on offer as some of the far more expensive paid plans of the other Issuu alternatives we reviewed.

  • Unlimited publications – even on the free plan
  • Support for all devices – iOS, Android, Windows – and Linux!
  • SEO optimized with Google Analytics integration
  • Shareable reader allowing you to reach out across all major social networks
  • Embeddable reader so you don’t need to send your readers to another site
  • Brandable with your own logos (not free but cool nonetheless)
  • Amazing support team response

If you are interested on how a digital magazines looks like, when created with this software, have a look at this magazine.

Issuu vs Zinio

Homepage of Zinio

Zinio is a close alternative to Issuu.

It offers a full digital publishing and distribution network.

Like any good distribution network, it requires you to be vetted before you can access their publishing tools.

It takes PDF or INDD files and converts them to XML which can be utilized by both websites and apps to create a seamless reading experience.

It offers a content management system allowing you an oversight of your content.

You can even embed Google DFP into spare advertising space if you can’t sell it all directly.

It looked good.

It looked pricey. It looked like something for the big boys.

Issuu vs Zmags

Homepage of Zmags
Homepage of Zmags

Turns out Zmags is based locally to us here in Boston.

More aimed at the catalog market than the magazine end of the digital publishing spectrum Zmag offers easy integration with e-commerce platforms.

You can start to create beautiful flipbooks but a lot of the features – such as drag and drop quick views to bring up product data from your e-commerce platform – simply weren’t of much interest to us.

So these are the best alternatives to Issuu for magazine publishing.

But don’t leave yet, as we will mention the very best alternative at the end!

Common Set of Features

All of the platform for digital publishing we looked at promised to take a PDF file and convert it to a digital page flip eBook.

They all promised to allow our readers the option of reading on whatever device they wanted.

They all offered some sort of SEO and analytics integration.

And they all offered some sort of customer support.

But what we liked the most about Yumpu was the sheer amount of features that they offer you for free.

Over 75 different ones. Ones that other top alternatives charge you an arm and a leg for.

Such as the WordPress plugin or the integration with Google Analytics.

One thing that really stood out was their commitment to their customers even if you’re on a free plan.

Now I’m quite tech-savvy but not all my team is, and we had a few issues with our file.

My first port of call was the online knowledge base which is impressively comprehensive.

There’s also the opportunity to ask a question of the whole Yumpu community which got answered quite swiftly (sometimes these forums can be really slow, but it wasn’t that important).

One of my team members got in a pickle and tried out their Live Chat system.

And she found it very helpful and friendly. She much prefers chatting with a real person than trying to navigate through FAQs and forums (although, as I said there’s plenty of those if that’s how you like your help files).

She told me, of all the different solutions we’d tried, she though Yumpu had the nicest support people and the easiest to use webpage.

I had to agree with her.

It’s a great tool!

I really like Yumpu and feel it is offering us good value for money.

Digital publishing has paid off for us.

flipbook software pays off

We have grown our readership back to our old levels, and our analytics show that we are getting readers from across the globe.

I knew we had one or two paper copies sent overseas, so our international readers are now able to get our content faster and more reliably than they used to.

And they’re also revealing a younger demographic, so hopefully, that bodes well for the future of our little magazine.

The TL;DR of all that is the best free Issuu alternative we’ve tried is Yumpu.

Why don’t you try it yourself and see what you think? I’d love to hear your feedback.

Also let me know if you are interested into other sites like Flip HTMl5 or another Issuu review.

10 thoughts on “Best free Issuu alternative? [Review of 11 Sites like Issuu]”

  1. Issuu is pretty great from what I can tell – just create a flipbook now and it was a good experience. I still haven’t tried many of the others so there’s still no clear winner yet.


    1. Try all the different ones that you can; use their free versions first and compare those and maybe afterwards you can test 2-3 of the paid plans. They offer a lot more with their paid options and you’ll soon know which one works best for you.


      1. Yes, I have and although I like a few things from Issuu, overall, Yumpu is better and cheaper so I’m going to use it exclusively I think.


  2. Like you said, the basic plan from Issuu is just that “Basic” – you can’t expect much from it and it can’t be compared with the free Yumpu plan. I like Yumpu’s interface, features and ease of use for both beginners and more knowledgeable people.


    1. There are some interesting flipbook software out there but the best Issuu alternative, in my opinion, is Yumpu. It is unmatched in features and the free option is enough to get started and you can create beautiful flipbooks.


  3. I want a tool that works very well on all platforms. I’ll need to test my flipbooks on PC, phone, tablet and see if they work well on all devices. This is very important to me because I know that the visitors on my site (the ones that will read my publications) like to use different platforms so I need to cater to all of them.


  4. Am I the only one here that actually likes Issuu? I know a lot of people that use and like Issuu. Don’t know much about the other creators but I may have a closer look. Thanks.


    1. You can use whichever software you feel good about. Try the free option of every flipbook maker (that has one) and see which one feels better for you. You might find it an interesting test.


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