Digital Catalog Software – Yes or No? [Pros & Cons]

Have you ever tried to create a digital version of a catalog or publication? Perhaps you’re wondering if the software for doing so is actually effective, or if it requires hours of training. I did some digging. After wasting my time (and quite some money) with other digital catalog software, this one had just about everything I could ask for. I really wish I’d known about Yumpu first.

Digital marketing is my forte, so I’m always trying to stay ahead of the curve on pretty much everything.

It’s actually pretty frustrating. Developers keep coming up with great software to create stunning catalogs, but 99% of them require some extensive knowledge, and often a specialist if you really want to get the most out of it.

When I first heard of a product catalog maker and of digital catalogs, I assumed they were useful and probably the direction things are heading. But by no means did I think I could create one. Just another expense to outsource, I guess. Still, i gave it a try on my own.

I eventually ended up figuring out how to use Issuu, but the results still didn’t satisfy my needs at all. If I really wanted to get the most useful features of the platform, I had to of course pay for better versions.

So I researched the web for a while and tried a lot of other platforms out. Some of them were okay, but not where I needed them to be.

Thankfully, a friend of mine volunteered to help. He told me about a better digital publishing solution, which made a huge difference in what I could accomplish on my own.

More on that later.

First, let me go over some information about digital catalog software, including benefits and drawbacks.

The evolution of digital catalog software

Digital catalog software has evolved immensely in recent years and now has the potential to revolutionise online content.

For savvy marketers, a flippingbook represents the opportunity to attract and delight audiences. And for readers, flippingbooks offer exciting new ways to interact with brands.

It was not all that long ago flipbooks were flopbooks. They looked good, but didn’t perform well in the digital space.

The page flipping book software technology has improved significantly in recent years. Subsequently this provides marketers and publishers with a platform to create stunning and fully immersive content using the full spectrum of multimedia files available in digital format.

Web content has never been so enticing or visually engaging. Not all wrapped up in one package anyway. Now you can take standard blog content and give it the glamour and pizzazz it needs to catch the eye of readers.

HTML5 and jQuery have given flipbooks or digital flip catalogs a new lease of life. Publishers now have a host of animated flipbook tools that include animated graphics, flexible layouts, stunning visuals and the chance to engage their audience with a variety of content formats to publish products interactively within a software catalog PDF. The result is now an innovative, responsive, and interactive flip book software with many more capabilities.

And all these tools are boxed into easy-to-use digital catalog software that does not require any user skills that you don’t already have. It allows you to convert a PDF file in no time. All you have to do is upload a PDF and you have a digital flipbook catalog that resembles any print publication you want to create.

Okay, before continuing, I’m going to preemptively address some common questions I get about this.

What’s a catalog?

Now, I’m assuming all of you know what a standard print catalog is, but what about the digital version?

What’s a digital catalog?

digital catalog software produces offline print magazines online

Image of a digital catalog.

A digital or online catalog is a file a business or individual can use to show any services, products or other documents provided. But not only that. A digital catalog is basically a virtual catalog. You can add interactive elements to the PDF catalog pages and share it across the web.  This involves the actual graphical images, (such as pictures of a product,) and text. The digital part refers to them being electronic, instead of print.

What is the meaning of e catalogue?

Some people think these are two different things but they aren’t. An eCatalogue is just another way of saying digital catalog, or catalogue.

What is a digital catalog software?

Simply put, it is a digital publishing tool that allows you to create an interactive catalog from PDF format. It is used to put these catalogs and publications together in a digital format to be viewed online, or on mobile devices.

What are the benefits of a digital catalog?

A lot, actually. In terms of digital vs analog, it’s not even a contest. I’ll go over those further down in a moment.

Some other questions I get asked from time to time:

How do you make a catalog? How do you make a product catalog? And how do you make a PDF product catalog?

Obviously, before you create a digital catalog version, you need to know how to make a product catalog. If you’re starting from scratch, this will require some basic graphic design skills, and a program like Adobe Photoshop.

If you’re wondering: How do I make a multi page PDF in Photoshop? For those that need to learn how to create a PDF catalog, or for those that need to learn how to make a multipage PDF in Photoshop, click here for a very good tutorial that can explain things much better than I can.

Once you created your catalog file, you can then convert it to a digital format. As far as how to make a catalogue free download, that depends on the platform.

Which digital e catalog making software providers are out there?

Digital catalog software was once a small niche, but has since exploded as technology has improved. There are now numerous choices when it comes to digital catalog publishing software, with the majority of them being at least decent. Still, there are some superior ones.

As I mentioned, there are plenty of digital flip PDF online catalog software providers to choose from and it’s not for me to say which flipbook maker will best suit your products. They all pretty much offer the same service, cost around the same price and produce the same results. But there are differences and user preferences so you should check several out to get a feel for the software.

If you’re not convinced that digital flip PDF catalog software will be the answer to your content solution, I suggest trying out one of the free trials on offer. You can find a list of some service providers in my catalog maker article.

But first, allow me to walk you through the pros and cons of digital catalog software.

Here are some of the benefits you can get from digital catalog software.

What are the advantages of digital catalog software?

Amazing visuals

The first thing anybody notices when they first clap eyes on an interactive flipbook (another term for a digital catalog,) are the visual effects. They are as good as, if not better, than the glossy print magazines we are accustomed to.

It is because of the stunning graphics reproduced by digital product catalog software that make flipbooks such an exciting proposition for marketers. So, if you need to give your content marketing campaign a pep-up, eye-catching images are a good place to start. You should really exploit the power of digital media by using the appropriate interactive catalog software.

Flexible and powerful solutions

Just about any company can and should take advantage of a digital catalog software maker to create their marketing materials and raise product brand awareness. The sophisticated technology can replicate any print publication and more.

Brochures, catalogs and product brand magazines are the logical choice of market material you can reproduce as a flip book. But you can also consider spicing up white papers, user manuals and eBooks. Generally, whatever you want to publish looks so much better when using a catalog creator.

Create a purchasing path

Digital catalog software allows you to embed rich media such as video and audio files alongside your plain text articles. The facility to diversify content in one package makes it easier to engage customers and guide them along the purchasing path.

You can use the content in your page flip catalog to raise product awareness, pass on industry news and create a brand culture readers want to get involved with on a regular basis. Imagine owning your own product brand magazine with a regular following. This can also lead to an increase in sales.

Depending on your platform, the catalog may be compatible with BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Shopify, or another shop system. You get a boost to your sales, high conversion rates, responsive customers, and more; all from turning a printable catalog into a digital catalog.

Some digital catalog software offer the possibility to add ‘add to cart’ buttons. This lets you handle the checkout process directly from within the digital catalog. This is especially useful for eCommerce websites selling various products so people can order and shop directly in the catalog.

Share your digital catalog software solution on social media

share catalogs on social media networks

Spread your digital catalogs across the web with a simple click.

I have yet to come across digital catalog software that is not integrated with social media. Once you have uploaded your PDF page into the flip book catalog software and created your flip book, all you have to do is click on the share on social button. Your content is automatically posted onto whatever social media accounts you have selected.

Sharing flipbooks on social networks gives you the opportunity to attract a wider audience and secure new customers. Content with visual elements like flipbooks get shared more often than standard blog posts.

Digital catalogs are cost effective

How much do printers charge you for printing catalogs and brochures? When you are printing swathes of high-grade paper using top quality laser printing it costs a pretty penny. Then you have to pay again when you want to run another round of copies.

When you publish your own marketing material with a free digital catalog maker you have an unlimited supply. It does not cost anything more than it takes to create the content. For a monthly fee of around $0-10 you can achieve considerable savings on print costs.

One other advantage I nearly forgot to mention is that early adopters have the opportunity to capture their target audience ahead of competitors. That alone could give you the biggest advantage moving forward.

What are the disadvantages of interactive catalogs?

It’s very rare that you find a perfect product that is fault-free. Even technology giants such as Apple and Samsung have a hard time producing digital handsets that deliver a flawless performance.

Digital catalogs are no exception, but programmers have done their best to try and mitigate the weaknesses in the software.

User experience

There is some contention as to whether user-experience is one of the disadvantages an online catalog implies. Especially because the experience offered to readers is fundamentally the responsibility of content creators.

However, there are aspects of the software’s functionality that can be improved upon, especially for mobile users. Although most software is responsive, the text is typically small and difficult to read – especially on small screens.

To counteract this, digital catalog software usually has a zoom option which enables readers to increase the size, or even zoom in and take a closer inspection of images.

As a result, catalog flipbook software offer an interactive experience. Although zooming does then require readers to use the scroll to navigate through text, which on smaller mobile screens takes users back to the days of pre-responsive websites. It could ruin user-experience.

Limited content performance data

Content marketers rely heavily on analytical data in order to assess the performance of their content. Free tools such as Google Analytics are priceless to digital marketers.

Whereas it is possible to sync flipbooks with Google Analytics, the data you get is often limited to number of visitors and length of time they engaged with the flipbook. Sometimes, there is no way of knowing which pages readers viewed or for how long, so marketers cannot determine which content readers are finding most engaging.

This could pose a problem for marketers attempting to steer customers along a purchase path.

All in all, digital catalog software does have the potential to enhance marketing campaigns, but it is a good idea to pretest how well content performs before publishing all content using flipbook software.

Providing you have a content strategy for your catalog you should be okay though.

So, what’s the best digital catalog software?

Still wondering what digital catalog software my friend turned me onto? That would be Yumpu, the best e catalog software for making digital versions. It’s incredibly simple to use, and easy to get started with from the moment you open it.

The process is very straightforward: To create your catalog, you just need to drag and drop the PDF file to the designated area, and let the software take over from there.

It takes just a few minutes until the catalog is complete. Just like that. The platform uses an impressive format called ePaper, which works on any device. Be it Mac, PC, iOs, Android, etc, and looks just like magazine paper, complete with cover pages, page-turning graphic effects and sound.

Once you uploaded your files, the platform hosts the publications in the cloud. You can then choose to embed the publication on a web page, send it, share it, or integrate it with social media. What’s more is you can choose from different website embedding templates ranging from magazine cover embed to bookshelf embed.

You can also enhance the catalog by embedding audio and video, implementing SEO for each page, provide links that go straight to your sales platform, making it an online catalog with full functionality, from browsing to buying.

The best part about all this? The FREE version contains everything I’m telling you so far. Yes, you can do all of this without paying for anything. No page limits, no publication limits. A legitimate, free catalog creator.

But, if you do want to take things to an even higher level, pricing is very fair. A small $10 per month can provide ad-free publications, enhanced privacy settings, and Google Analytics. If your budget is higher, you can get things like WebKiosk, subscription management, a mobile app, and more. You can try all of that out for free as well, in case you’re a little apprehensive.

How to get started with my favorite digital catalog software

I love this part.

There’s no long downloads, no long registration forms, none of that. You can start immediately, within the minute even.

There’s just three steps:

  1. Go to Yumpu, start a free account
  2. Upload your file in PDF format by using the drag and drop feature
  3. Wait 1-2 minutes for the file to convert, and you’re all set

Yep. It’s that easy.

If you should need any help though, you can contact them directly via email or phone (or browse through their help center).

After the catalog is ready, you have all kinds of options for what to do with it. Of course, you can also flip through other examples of catalogs for inspiration. You can embed it into your website or online shop, post it to your social media accounts, add audio and video enhancements, or whatever else you want. Nowadays, especially digital video catalog software is popular due to the video content’s ability to engage people.

Once you get acclimated to the free version, I do recommend at least trying out some of the paid versions. You get stuff like secured links for sharing and emails, password protections, Google Analytics, scheduling options, “printing” options, branding management enhancements, and more.

Like I said, if the extra features aren’t of use to you, just opt out without paying, no worries.

Digital catalog software can transform your business

Once you find the right digital catalog software platform, you’re able to experience some amazing benefits for your business and clients. Finding the right catalog design builder for my business was crucial. The ability to convert a PDF file into an alluring, highly readable , interactive online digital catalog in just a few minutes still blows my mind in some ways. Initially, I didn’t think this was actually possible. It turns out, I was using the wrong software. Go figure.

I’m not saying that every other digital catalog software maker is useless. There are some other good digital flip catalog software out there, and I think bigger names like Issuu still have value for some.

The thing is, it’s obvious that Yumpu analyzed what these other digital catalog software platforms provided, added to it, addressed some common issues, and ended up developing a superior software. And that’s just with the free version. By the way, they even offer a free flipbook WordPress plugin you could use for embedding your catalog. If you pay for a monthly version, you’re getting even more.

To me, if you’re needing to create a digital catalog, or any other kind of digital publication, Yumpu is the place you need to start, hands down!

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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6 Comments
  1. Nice post, Jason. I came across this digital catalog software as well, and I really like the fact that it makes reading to be more interactive as compared to traditional books.

    Post a Reply
    • Jason Marshal

      Hi Mia, thanks for reading. The diversification of content was also one of the main reasons why I decided to use this kind of software. Readers demand engaging and varying content and that’s what you can do with their software. In a very simple way.

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  2. Hi Jason, I don’t know much about digital catalogs but I’ve been thinking about digitizing our print documents for some time. Firstly, because of the cost-effective nature of digital catalogs. Secondly, because of the ease of sharing.

    Post a Reply
    • Jason Marshal

      Glenn, this could be a good thing for you (or your business?). You can access all documents on the move, share them quickly and get rid of paper stacks.
      For me, that was a great relief. But people are different 🙂

      Post a Reply
  3. G’day Jason. Phew, that was a lot to read but the listed advantages and disadvantages were very helpful. So it was worth it. I’m amazed at the versatile scope of such catalogs.

    Post a Reply
    • Jason Marshal

      Hi Ivan, yes – it also took me quite a while to write it 😀 Glad you like the article.

      Post a Reply

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