Free Page Turning Software Using PDF

There I was killing myself searching for free page turning software that can accept PDFs as a source. Thankfully, I found solace before death.

Where I work, we do a lot of brochures, booklets, collaterals and things that need to be paged through. As a resort hotel, we generate a lot of interest from overseas, and it’s not always possible to get these things that needs to be paged through to everyone, so a digital version is a great solution.

But if you’ve ever tried to look for page turning software, you’ll know that it’s really expensive, especially if you want the fancy page-turning effect. There are some free page turning solutions out there that uses JPG files, but they are limited in function and use. If you want to use PDFs as it’s source, usually it’s big money for that kind of page turning software.

Previously we used a company that charged per year for a set amount of issues and a set amount of pages per issue. It was a frightfully expensive exercise and when it became time to renew, I was tasked to find new, and preferably free PDF page turning software.

Dabbling in the world of open source software, I knew there was a free alternative, but search as I might, I couldn’t get the page turning software that gave everything I wanted. I wanted it to be able to use PDFs for source, have cool zoom and navigation features and, of course, I wanted it all for free.

I had several hit and misses with dumbed down free versions of paid-for software, which I still had to host on my own site. That isn’t great for bandwidth and all but kills searchability and makes it difficult to share. I nearly settled on a not-so-great-but-free-JPG-based option. Exasperated I typed in some fresh keywords and lo and behold, stumbled across is like the YouTube of the book world. You can upload your publication in PDF format (although it has to be one, multi-page PDF) and’s software does the rest. You can share it much like you would a YouTube video by sending it to friends, embedding it on your own website, or even linking to it through Facebook.

One of the big features I was looking for is that page turning effect and automatically creates that for the publication. And using PDFs as source files for the pages, it can zoom and make even small print clear to read. The added benefit of PDFs are that the text contained within is searchable, enabling your publication to be found for relevant searches.

That only works if you don’t convert the text to curves of course. On my first upload to, some of the fonts didn’t display correctly, but that could be because of some advanced effects that didn’t export well from CorelDraw. I converted the problem text to curves, which then displayed fine after upload.

Once uploaded, it creates a miniature version for you to embed in your webpage as an icon. You can actually page through the little icon too. Clicking on the centre of the mini-book launches the big book for full-screen browsing and reading.

The mini version is customisable so far as size and background colour is concerned, and with the big version there’s about 5 choices for background colours. The big version also has an OSX style navigation bar at the bottom to make it easy to jump to a particular page.

It comes with a few links you can remove and the Issuu watermark, which you can’t, although it’s non-invasive, so not a big deal, even for professional use.

All that, the fancy page turning effect, PDFs as source files AND free. Easy to see why is my new best friend.


  • anonymous

    28 March 2008 at 20:56

    Great little tip there… It is very easy to use and best of all, free! Thanks! 🙂

  • Brian Hancock

    25 June 2008 at 12:59

    This is absolutely stunning. Really a great resource. I have been researching this for days and was about to spend $300 odd to publish my magazine. This is so much better and yes, Free is good.

  • Ray C

    10 September 2008 at 06:14

    your right it is a nice bit of kit but for those of us that prefer to host the pages on our own site it would be good to know which free or low options are available

  • Sana Sandler

    12 September 2008 at 08:54

    Thank you very much! This is exactly what I was looking for, thanks for sharing!

  • Bill Berndtson

    22 October 2008 at 09:00

    Thank you very much. As a non-profit any saving is good. This program is great!

    Bill Berndtson

  • Curtis

    23 October 2008 at 16:49

    Thank you, this is what I have been looking for and thanks for sharing.

  • Bob

    24 November 2008 at 18:18

    This was well worthwhile. Thanks for the info. The software works great

  • euromonkeys

    25 November 2008 at 01:52

    many many thanks, was getting sick of reading open source forums with unhelpful comments like 'why don't you just send everyone a pdf'

  • Key Snodgress

    22 January 2009 at 13:23

    We were looking for an inexpensive solution and the best we found was $150 per month. Not bad comparatively, but this solution is free! Great! Thanks so much for your post!

  • Jayne Hasselroth

    19 March 2009 at 18:29

    Thank you so much for helping me find this great service. I will be using it for posting to my portfolio site at first, but now that I know about it, I have many more ideas to pursue.

    I am soooo excited.

  • Jonathan

    27 March 2009 at 05:57

    Sweetness! This is exactly what I needed for a client. Thanks for the thorough writeup.

  • Kay

    3 July 2009 at 15:15 Isn't Free! They charge per click!

  • 1Earth

    3 July 2009 at 20:17

    It IS free. Have a read on their About page.

  • estelle

    20 December 2011 at 22:25

    This is brilliant, just what I needed. – How did you manage to get rid of the links/advert on the side??

    I don't mind the watermark but would like it with just my doc no advert.

    thank you


  • Sandi

    9 February 2012 at 00:00

    Thanks for the tip. I was searching for free software using different search engines and I stumbled upon the site also. Thanks for letting me know that it is the best one out there.

  • CoffeeCurls

    2 April 2012 at 23:08

    Superstar – thanks for this 🙂

  • Leah

    4 June 2012 at 13:33

    Wow! Incredible! Thank you soooo much for sharing!

  • Genevieve

    9 June 2012 at 04:40

    Thank You Thank You Thank You!

  • inaguesmer

    21 June 2012 at 16:49

    This is better then everything else I was looking at. I am designer and wouldn't use any of the other free ones you can get, neither I would pay about 699$ for using it for one year. Thank you for shareing!

  • 1Earth

    3 August 2012 at 10:13

    Hi, I know this is late, but perhaps it can help somebody else also. To make your embed look like the one on this page, do this – it should work: On generate the embed code from the Issuu publication you want to embed, and find the part where it says "documentID=". There's a long number after that, copy it.

    Then "View Source" on this page, and on line 146 you will see the code I used to embed the mag on this page.

    If you copy from <div> to </div> then – in theory – you should have exactly the same size mag centered on your page. Replace the number after "documentID" in this code, with your number and voila, it should look like above. Note, there are 2 places in the code snippet where documentID has to be replaced.

    Hope that gives you the result you're looking for.

  • JennieJean13

    22 September 2012 at 00:17

    Thank you so much for this post, it was so helpful and Issuu is so user friendly and professional. Appreciate it!

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