#1 Free Catalog Maker Software [Review of the Best 5]

Have you ever wondered if there’s that one great catalog maker tool to create a digital catalog with ease? Me too. That’s why I began to search for one. All of the available web tools were either too expensive or awry. Others required advanced technical skills. I was about to give up, until a friend of mine suggested I should try a freeware called Yumpu.

Well, as an online marketing expert, I’m always looking around for software that makes laborious tasks easier. Especially for those of us who don’t want to invest a lot of time to getting computer or design work done.

Before I started my search, I had a problem.

I needed to create a product catalog for a customer. Honestly, I was frustrated because I could not find a way to quickly convert PDF files to a viable online print format. I soon realized that also the big players like Issuu have their drawbacks.

I already have enough on my plate (both literally and figuratively). So I try to avoid wasting time on certain tasks. And of course, finding a way to integrate SEO for my customer’s business was nearly impossible. At least impossible without signing up for expensive packages from digital publishing companies.

The ideal tool should not only produce catalogs that look professional. But the catalogs should also load quickly.

Now, I certainly trusted my friend’s recommendation. He actually works in the graphic design industry. But I also wanted to try some of the other free digital catalog making software I kept coming across with my research.

How a free digital catalog maker can help you grow your business, and save you time

In case you didn’t know, converting files to a viable web content format can really wear you out if you don’t know what you’re doing. Without using software, the process can be tedious and take hours. Afterwards, you still can’t be sure it’s going to end up working out well.

Good news.

I’m going to save you from all that.

I was first trying to do this on my own as a service to my clients. However, it wasn’t long before I ended up getting overwhelmed with my job. I promised them the world, and had the right vision. But actually, pulling it off was another story. My productivity suffered, and my clients suffered, which is the worst possible situation to be in. I was exhausted, and things weren’t looking good for the long term.

If only I’d known earlier what was out there waiting for me: A great free online catalog tool.

For those who may be a little unfamiliar, let me help you out by preemptively answering a few questions.

What’s a catalog? More importantly, what’s a catalog maker?

I’ll assume everyone knows what a basic catalog is. Whether you’re looking at the newest line of shoes from your favorite apparel company, or a pamphlet of services from an insurance provider — that’s a catalog.

Online catalogs are used to provide examples of services or products offered by a business, but in an online format. This involves graphical images, (such as pictures of a product,) along with text that offers relevant information.

A catalog builder is used to put these catalogs and publications together in a digital format. Readers and customers can view them online and on any mobile device.

Wait, is it catalog or catalogue?

There isn’t a right or wrong answer. For the most part, it really just depends on where you live, or if you speak British or American english. The Brits like to add extra vowels to American english words, such as spelling “program” as “programme.” Get it? Catalogue is the British english/European way of spelling the word. E catalogue, e-catalog, both are the same!

What benefits does an online catalog (e catalog) have?

Well, we are in the internet age after all, and it’s not likely to ever go away. Digital catalogs can be used by online retailers and businesses, allowing customers to browse products online, and, if possible, order them.

In other instances, these catalogs are actually online, digital versions of print magazines or print catalogs. Either way, having them online makes them accessible to billions of people, rather than just those that obtain a physical copy. And they also have a page flip effect which makes them even greater.

Think about digital vs. analog for a moment. With a physical version of a catalog or publication, customers can only view it when shopping for what you’re selling. Anyone interested in actually buying your products has to go elsewhere to do so.

With an online e-catalogue, you have several different ways to increase sales. Whether it’s an e-catalog, or online shop, customers can both shop directly and order directly using provided links, making it a valuable ecommerce outlet. The digital shop system provides a means for a customer to not just view the catalog and product pricing. They can even select an item to add to cart, and checkout.

Depending on your platform, the catalog may be compatible with BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Shopify, etc. You can boost sales, get high conversion rates, responsive customers, and more; all from turning a printable catalog into an online catalog.

The trick to all of this is finding a way to make your print version viewable in a user-friendly way online, which is the problem I was encountering.

Which digital catalog making software providers are out there?

Catalog makers used to be a small niche years ago. Now there are numerous software providers that can help you quickly put together catalogs in a very short amount of time.

I touch on five of the best ones further below, saving you from all the research time. So you don’t end up in the situation I found myself in.

How do you make a catalog?

Regardless of what software or free catalogue maker you go with when making an e-catalog, you need to know how to create a catalogue first as a PDF file. Before converting it to a page-turning format, you need to create your PDF, most often with Adobe software. There are a number of e catalog templates available as well. How do I make a multi page PDF in Photoshop? For those that need to learn how to make PDF catalogs, or for those that need to learn how to create a multipage PDF in Photoshop, click here for a great tutorial.

Catalog makers explained

It is the most modern way to create an e-catalog. They are most often used to create an online version of a print publication. The file is operated like a digital version of the print publication. It has the same number of pages, a cover, and everything. Higher-end versions have lifelike integrations with their page-turning graphics. The do also provide an authentic feel that is as close to the real thing as you can get.

Now initially these didn’t make a great impression when they were first launched around 2007. One of the main reasons animated e-catalogue flipbook software or animated flipbook technology faulted is because Flash is not SEO friendly and the software is so bloated it not only takes a long time to load, but also slows the performance of your computer down as well.

Thanks to advancements in HTML catalog maker technology, together with jQuery and CSS3, such software has the potential to solve challenges some marketers experience. Specifically when trying to be more engaging with an audience. Most every program is a true Flash catalog creator and 3D catalogue maker that offers an easy, streamlined way to generate usable content in a short amount of time.

A product catalog maker produces eye-catching graphics – we’re talking top-notch images and a variety of multimedia files here. The result is that a flip catalog replicates the quality of a print magazine with the added bonus of sound and video.

And the news gets better.

The programs for creating product catalogs are usually easy to use. All you have to do is upload a pdf file to the digital publishing tool and the catalog maker technology does the rest.

Which is the best catalog maker / creator?

You can trial numerous catalog makers for free. Although the free services usually have limited features compared to paid versions, publishers can still produce a catalog design and get a feel of just how much this can improve your content.

So, with that said, here are five of the best free catalog maker tools on the market you should consider trialling. At the end, I’ll tell you why one stands above the rest, and why.

Yumpu

Boasting “100 powerful features”, it is regarded as one of the best catalog makers available. Using page flip animation software (also called flipbook software) to convert your pdf files, you can optimize content for SEO and use Google Analytics tracking.

The service enables you to send the end product to any device. And since the software is responsive and equipped with intuitive navigation and has quick download speeds, these catalogs work effectively on mobile devices.

It has all the features you need to create a solid online presence and deliver marketing content that really draws the attention of internet users. And although it is easy to use, there is a brief 2-3 minute tutorial to get you started.

If you should still need personal help, their support team is awesome. They do also have a help center where you might find what you need.

FlipHTML5

Marked up as a leader of online marketing platforms, the free FlipHTML5 flip book maker provides such a speedy performance, making it user-friendly on mobiles. This is an important factor given web browsers prevent software that performs poorly.

The free version of FlipHTML5 enables you to convert pdf files and turn your marketing content into engaging magazines, brochures or eBooks. The easy interaction between the pdf document and publishing software also allows you to update or amend your document.

There are a reasonable number of pre-designed product catalog templates available, and you can also customize the appearance. An ideal solution to publish your new marketing content uniquely and aesthetically pleasing.

Free download free usage: The company also allows subscribers using the FlipHTML5 free download version to host content on their server, something most other free digital publishing platforms don’t offer.

Anyflip

For a free do-it-yourself tool, Anyflip gives you a decent impression of what digital catalog software is ultimately capable of. You can even add an animated bookshelf to show off your range of publications to visitors.

There is a fair selection of pre-designed templates to choose from to enhance the visuals. Publishers can also add their own custom designs to create interactive, unique and original content.

Although the full compliment of tools is obviously not available in the free version, you can upload your logo and choose a background. To add multi media files such as video and sound however, you will need to upgrade to the premium package.

What I like about Anyflip is the stunning animation. In the premium package you can insert page links to external pages, include image slideshows, promotional video ads, and MP4 sound tracks.

Pageflip Books  

Pageflip Books is one of the original old school programs that have been able to add amazing new features and improve their software thanks to HTML and jQuery.

Their latest version, flip book 5 is one of the easiest and most powerful catalog makers on the market.

Even with the free version, the intuitive software allows publishers to create a rich, interactive user-experience. Attractive and dynamic, the software boasts smooth page turning technology and delivers the closest digital experience to reading a physical magazine or eBook.

FlipPageMaker

Their flipbook maker is versatile. Publishers can upload anything created in HTML5 to a server as a webpage to reach a wide audience or within a virtual private network to exchange interactive documents with your colleagues.

Publishers also have a variety of methods to distribute a digital product catalog too. Pop the flippingbook in a zip file and email it to recipients, integrate it to your FTP server, or instantly share the content via various social media channels. And that can all be done with one flipping book software.

Another feature I like about the flip page maker is that you can see your amendments and updates in real time. It also has a good selection of pre-configured templates.

One of the main drawbacks for me was that you need to download their program to your computer, compared to online services. It is a download free version but still.

Before you decide to invest, check out the free versions first. See which platform best suits your needs and skills to create a great catalog – although you generally don’t require advanced technical skills to use a catalog creator software.

I have no doubt you will be impressed by the capabilities of virtual catalog technology. The premium packages can all be synced with Google analytics so you can even monitor the performance of your content.

So, which electronic catalog creator is the best?

While all five of these products are effective for creating high-quality catalogs and publications, there is one that stands out. Not only in its features, but for all that it offers for free.

From my experience, there is simply no beating Yumpu.

There are so many reasons to publish with them, I don’t really know where to start.

After failing so many times using other software, this one blew me away immediately in regards to not only how easy it was to use, but how simple it is. So I didn’t need any help to build product catalogs.

And you can directly use the flip magazine creator software online. Without requiring software download and installation.

The user interface is very self-explanatory. To create a publication, all you do is literally drag the file over to an icon, release, and the software does the rest. In just a few minutes, your ecatalog or online magazine is ready to go. The software uses a format called ePaper. It looks and functions like a real magazine, on any device, be it Mac, PC, iOs, Android, etc.

After the file is uploaded, the publications are hosted in the cloud. You can embed the publication, send it, share it, integrate it with any popular social media website. Whatever you want. With their catalog machine, you can even embed audio and video, implement SEO for each page, link out to your sales platform and more.

And again, this is all with the FREE version. No other platform offers this much functionality and features for free, period.

It’s truly astounding.

When I was first using it, I kept waiting for a prompt to pop up asking for money after a brief trial period.

Nope. It’s free. No page limits, no publication limits.

Now, there are paid versions that offer all of that and more. For just $10 per month, you can have ad-free publications, privacy settings, and Google Analytics. Or you can opt for the higher packages that offer all of that plus things like a WebKiosk, subscription management, a mobile app, and more. There is a free trial option if you want to try them out.

Getting started with creating interactive catalogs

This is one of the best parts.

While it may seem like you have to go through all this registration stuff and painstakingly slow file upload steps, you are actually just minutes away from having your publication made.

If you have the PDF file, you can do this right now in a few steps without any hassle. And without knowledge of any technical stuff.

  • Go to Yumpu.com and create a free account
  • Upload your document in PDF format via drag and drop
  • Wait 1-2 minutes for the file conversion

That’s it. Your PDF flipbook is ready.

From there, you have numerous options for what you can do with your new mobile e-catalog or online publication. You can embed it on your website, share it on all the social networks, or add audio and video. Whatever you want.

After uploading your first one, I’d recommend getting a free trial for some of the more advanced features so you can play around with them.

A secure link for sharing and emails, password protections, Google Analytics, scheduling functions, publication “printing” options, branding options, and more.

If you don’t find it useful, you can always opt out and revert to the free version.

Using a PDF catalog maker doesn’t have to be hard

Finding a free e-catalog and catalog maker software was a godsend for me in every way.

The fact that I could access and use software that turns a simple PDF file into a beautiful, readable, interactive online publication was great. And all in a matter of minutes. That was mind blowing to me. Especially after all the time I wasted using what I thought were the best platforms available at the time.

Look, I think platforms like Issuu are great. They were groundbreaking in many ways. I’m sure there are some who will still prefer them for whatever reason.

Yumpu has learned from what they offered, built upon it, and created a superior product in every way. Even if you’re just using the free version.

That’s just the truth.

Using a paid version of their catalog creator software takes it to an ever higher level.

Again, I can’t recommend this product enough. At this point, I don’t know what I’d do without it in my business. Start creating awesome catalogs online for free and see for yourself!

Jason Marshal

Author: Jason Marshal

Hi, my name is Jason, I'm a part-time chef and full-time digital marketing guru, I know pay-per-click advertising like the back of my hand. I’m also passionate about skateboarding.

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4 Comments
  1. Do you think I can use their free plan until I can afford to opt for their paid one?

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    • Jason Marshal

      Hi Eva, not only can you use it, I highly recommend you start this way. There’s absolutely no need to go for the paid version right away, especially if you’re on a tight budget. Jason

      Post a Reply
  2. It seems Yumpu is a big favorite so I’m going to try it first. My first catalog will only have a few pages since I didn’t put too much effort into it not knowing how it will look in the end. Kind regards, David

    Post a Reply
    • Jason Marshal

      Hi David, if you need, you can find a lot of inspiration on their website. Browse other catalogs and see if you find something you would want to have in yours, both design and content wise. Regards, Jason

      Post a Reply

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