The 4 Best Alternatives to Issuu:
Free, Similar & Interactive
Looking for an alternative to Issuu?

We tested multiple Issuu alternatives to see how they stack up and made a short list of our favorites.

Compare and contrast the features, prices and offerings to decide on the best alternative for you.
To Issuu or not to Issuu. Is there even an alternative to Issuu? These are questions that almost all publishers must ask themselves. And indeed, with 20,000 (according to Issuu) newly uploaded publications every day, Issuu, based in California, is the 800-pound gorilla in the world of online magazine publishing. Yet, you might ask yourself if you are making the right decision by doing what everyone else is doing. So we explored other digital publishing platforms that offer you an alternative to Issuu.
Introduction To Issuu
What Issuu Offers
Many, if not most, of you will already know what Issuu has to offer. If so, feel free to skip directly to the next sections ;-) If not, here is a short overview of what Issuu can offer. Issuu.com is a platform which allows you to upload and publish your magazines or publications (in print layout) online. They have paid plans as well as a free version. The free version on https://issuu.com allows you to create an Issuu account and use Issuu’s reader and embed your online magazine on your site.
You pay for what you get, and therefore the free version of Issue is somewhat limited.

There are strict limitations on the amount of content you can publish. With the free-version and lower paid plans, you have advertisements and “Related Articles” on your reader.

But it does allow you to have a basic digital presence. Your magazine will be available on Issuu.com as well as on the Issuu app and you can embed the magazine on your site as well. But if you find yourself wanting to upload more content, you’ll need one of the paid plans. Let’s take a look at what Issuu has to offer, and if those features match up to what you’re looking for.
Issuu Review
Production: Excellent
IF you have a print version, it is very easy to publish on issuu
The most fundamental feature we all want is the possibility to publish our content online.

This is pretty easy with Issuu. You take a PDF of the print layout of your magazine and upload it. That’s pretty much it. It’s a very straightforward process if you already have a finished PDF file. Limits: Issuu limits your uploads to either 500pages/100MB or 5000 pages/500MB. As always, when something is so easy there’s always a flipside. The publishing step is super-easy because you are merely reusing your print layout as your digital layout. While it’s convenient, this could also be considered the biggest drawback of the platform. Giving a user something meant for print in a digital reader doesn’t offer the best possible reading experience. Technology: Issuu.com takes care of the hosting for you.
Reader Experience: Medium to Bad
Magazine dimensions
Your Issuu publication will (on most devices) shrink and so will your text. The standard magazine dimensions are 8 3⁄8” x 10 7⁄8”. This is significantly bigger than tablet and mobile devices, and even on desktops, your magazine will be reduced in size. A 15-inch computer screen is typically 13.6 x 7.6 inches. So even if the reader is using the fullscreen, your magazine will still be reduced from 10.875 to 7.6 inches. Or in other terms a reduction of 100% to 69.8%. Eye-to-carrier distance
We normally hold a magazine at slightly over a half-arm’s-length away from our eyes. This is about the same for tablets and mobiles, but desktops typically are over an arm’s length away from the eye. The effect of of these on your reader are that in any circumstance, your magazine appears much smaller than you intended to when you were designing it for print. Not only are your images smaller, but also your text size is a lot smaller and therefore arduous to read. This becomes a real issue on iPhone, iPad and Android devices. So at best your magazine is hard to read, and at worst it requires additional zooming, scrolling and swiping by your reader to read a portion of a publication. You also have added negative user experience with the extra Issuu ads (removed at Premium level), and the ‘Related Publications’ (removed at Starter level). Conclusion While it is easy to get started from a production viewpoint, the end product, your Issuu publication, is ok for a start, but offers a sub-optimal experience for your audience on all devices. And this includes Issuu.com and even the Issuu app on mobile.
Selling Subscriptions: Easy!
Selling subscriptions on Issuu is available on the Premium plan and higher. Once more, this is really easy to set up, and your content will be available on Issuu.com, or the Android or iOS mobile apps. Transaction fees for sales are about 3% for Stripe (the payment provider) and 30% for Issuu. Conclusion It is easy to set up subscription sales on Issuu. Combined with the ease of uploading your content, setting up paid subscriptions was a no-brainer for many publishers.
Selling Advertising: No real extras
The advertising opportunities when you go with Issuu are straightforward: since your online version is basically your print version, you can only offer your advertisers the prospect of more views and impressions, which you can check in the analytics per page.
Statistics: Easy, but pretty basic
Starting at the Premium level, Issuu offers publishers statistics. You will be able to measure impressions, reads, read time and average time spent. Additionally, you will be able to see if people read on desktop, tablet or mobile, and which percentage of your readers reads on Issuu.com or on an embedded reader. Of course, in comparison to the depth of data available from platforms like Google Analytics, this is pretty basic. But it is there, and requires no additional work, only payment of the Premium plan.
Content Marketing & SEO: Non-existent
On Issuu.com, people can follow you, and Issuu will notify them when you publish new content. This is again automatically taken care of for you, but like with social media platforms, you are dependent on Issuu’s rules to interact with those followers. Content marketers swear by email marketing, but with Issuu there is no option for users to subscribe to your email list or for you to collect email addresses. Organic Search There are no organic search options, or optimizations. Issuu users should not expect traffic from organic search. The reality is that people are not going to discover you because you are buried amongst the other several thousand Issuu publications. There is just too much competition for your Issuu publication to show up as latest content amids other new magazines.

On Issuu’s website, SEO is mentioned, but in today’s hyper-competitive market, under-optimized, user-unfriendly content such as what Issuu offers does not stand a chance for the better (read: interesting) keywords, even if you have superb and unique content.
Design & Interactivity: Nope
Since you are offering a print version online, opportunities for interactivity are very limited, if not close to zero. Issuu offers no options to improve that, with the single exception that you can embed a video in your magazine (available as of Premium level).
Issuu Alternative: Our overall conclusion
The UPsides of Issuu For publishers with an existing print edition, it is easy to get started on Issuu. You can also set up a paywall, and start promoting this option. The DOWNsides of Issuu You’ll be offering your readers a flipbook or ‘print-replica’ experience, which is sub-standard in today’s landscape of readers increased expectations. Your only growth is through paid promotion. You cannot establish an infrastructure for content marketing through email marketing or organic search.
Issuu Alternatives: What Are The Possibilities?
Similar Digital Publishing Solutions to Issuu
If you are looking for an alternative to Issuu because Issuu caused you grief for any reason, but you’re still happy with the type of service, then here is a list of vendors that will offer you a very similar experience. While you’ll be with a different digital publishing platform, there are only slight differences in the services offered. To give an analogy, you would be switching from McDonald's to Burger King, but you would still be having a hamburger. Given that the feature set of a similar solution will be nearly identical to those offered by Issuu, we will focus on the differences and the pricing in the comparison below. Here are our top choices if you’re looking for a similar experience:
Free Alternative to Issuu: Yumpu
Yumpu is probably your best bet if you are looking for a replacement for Issuu’s free version. Yumpu offers a nice free version.

Once you want a bit more, you’ll be looking at the paid plans immediately, and having paid subscriptions is available at $399/month.

Learn more about Yumpu on their website.
Almost Identical Alternative to Issuu: Publitas
If you’re looking for an almost identical offering, you might want to check Publitas out.

Pricing starts at $29 monthly, but if you have a bit of traffic, you’ll likely end up in the higher tiers of $99 and $299 monthly.

Learn more here: Publitas.com
Joomag
Joomag offers you a complete alternative to Issuu. It is a nice platform, and if you’re dissatisfied with Issuu, it is worth considering. Major differences are: The commission on sold subscriptions is between 10%-20% instead of Issuu’s 30% You will get access to a visual editor which enables you to add some interactivity such as video, etc. to your publication, and edit your pages’ content. Pricing: Your bill is going to be a good chunk higher.

Joomag offers a $39/month plan, but this is so limited to the point of being unusable for professionals. The lowest ‘professional’ plan will set you back $99/month per user. You have no analytics, plus you’ll only have a 1000 contacts that you can save in the subscription database.

Visit the Joomag website to learn more.
Issuu Alternatives: Want More? Interactive / Native Digital?
The upside is that all the digital marketing and content marketing options that you do not get with Issuu, are now available to you.

Readz supports advanced marketing techniques such as exit intents, contextual welcome messages or timed popups to bring in new subscribers, etc. You can start collecting email addresses through forms, and grow your email marketing DB issue by issue. Readz also takes great care of optimizing your website for search engines, and be up-to-date with all the latest technical recommendations and requirements of Google.
This means your content will start ranking on organic search.
Readz’s platform is hyper-optimized for SEO, offers https and all content is published on a global CDN.
Many Readz clients benefit from strong additional organic growth in traffic, and hence in advertising revenue.
Readz vs Issuu

Feature

Issuu

Readz

DESIGN & PRODUCTION
InDesign / PDF Upload

Yes - PDF only

Yes - PDF + InDesign

WYISWYG Editor

No
Yes



READER EXPERIENCE

Online Reading
Yes
Yes

Mobile delivery
Yes
Yes
Responsive Content
No
Yes
App Stores
Yes
No

Interactivity
Embedded video only
Yes
Touch / swipe support
Yes
Yes

Embed on your site
Yes
Yes



CONTENT MARKETING



Custom domain
No
Yes
Email capture / forms
No
Yes

SEO
No (not really)
Yes




ANALYTICS


Traffic data
Yes
Yes
Conversion data
No
Yes


MONETIZATION


Paywall
Yes
Yes (soft paywall)
Private publications
No
Yes
Selling Advertising
Print only
Additional options
SOCIAL SHARING
Yes

Yes
PRICING
Starts at Free level
Paid plans only
While this all works nicely from a technology and production viewpoint, from a reader viewpoint it’s not so optimal. Here are some of the drawbacks of Issuu that might cause trouble for your readers. First of all, there can be issues with the readability of your magazine. Publishing on Issuu.com and on the Issuu app means starting from your print version, and because of that you will bump into these unavoidable facts: Aspect ratios
For desktop readers, you are placing a portrait layout on a landscape carrier. Doing this creates two very visible effects: disturbing amounts of negative space on both sides of your magazine and your intended dimensions are way off as your magazine is shrunk to fit the height of the web browser on the computer screen.
ISSUU content is shown on all devices, but is not responsive.
Notice the large empty sides on even a square desktop (which does not exist).
And text in this example from the Issuu website is simply unreadable.
Enabling the subscription options on Issuu will make the green 'buy' button appear. Easy! (but hard to read)
Yumpu is a nice FREE and similar offering to Issuu.
Publitas offers a very similar feature set to Issuu
If you are looking for a real immersive reading experience, and you would like to start a digital native, interactive experience and/or get started in content and digital marketing, then there is a different option available to you. Readz is a digital publishing platform that offers you digital native reader experiences, with an extensive set of marketing and monetization tools. Because you’ll be building the digital experience on a digital platform, it will be much more user-friendly than a print-version online.
What remains the same: you will still be publishing content in issues, and you will still have the options of monetization, and paid promotion of your content. The biggest difference between publishing with Issuu and publishing with Readz, is that with Readz you’ll be publishing a digital native experience. There will be endless opportunities for interactivity and customization of the digital reading experience. The downside of this, and there is no way around it, is that it will require some additional layout work. This can be small, or big, depending on your plans and customization wishes.
Best Issuu Alternatives of 2019:
  • Similar to Issuu and free: Yumpu
  • Practically identical to Issuu: Publitas
  • Similar but more expensive: JooMag
  • Upgrade to full digital responsive: Readz

Alternatives to Issuu

If you want a similar solution, you can try

If you want
  • more responsive behavior,
  • more engagement,
  • more interactivity,
  • more SEO,
  • more advertising possibilities,
  • in short, just more,
then you need to check out Readz.


But Readz does offer a couple of unique advantages:

- Flipbooks: Readz also supports flipbooks. The advantage of this is that you can use a single platform to host your old PDFs as flipbooks and start upgrading content to responsive formats when it suits you.
- InDesign import. Also, if you want to start offering better mobile content, Readz offers an InDesign import feature and the Readz team can help you with this, offering the possibility for a fully assisted transition from print layout to digital layout.

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