iPaper shoots PDFs dead!

How using iPaper could increase traffic, revenue, and user appeal

New Media Trends – If you offer PDFs on your website or membership website, you have likely gotten ripped off at one point or another. Especially if you offer a free trial to subscribers with access to your PDFs, where it’s common practice for trial subscribers to get in, download your content, and get out.

iPaper is the new web-based alternative to PDFs, which embeds directly into your website instead of offering users the option to download your content and be on their merry way. Like a YouTube video, Scribd describes iPaper documents as Flash widgets which you embed in your existing web pages. PDF, Word, PowerPoint, and many other document formats can all be displayed on the web using iPaper. Unlike Adobe Flashpaper, it’s free to use and has an open API.

In reference to security on your private documents, Jason Bentley from Scribd says “Each component of the API lets you mark documents as private. Private documents will only appear where you embed them and will not appear on Scribd or in Scribd’s search index.”

As we see it, these are the benefits to switching to iPaper:

  • Social-enabled. Social features built in to encourage users to share your content with their friends (but not steal it).
  • Hassle-Free. Incredibly quick to load (unlike PDFs).
  • SEO. Offers unique search engine optimization features to make sure you are included in Google, Yahoo!, etc.
  • Ad-enabled. Feature your Google AdSense in your documents.
  • Easy Integration. Scribd offers plenty of ways to easily convert your PDF, Word, PowerPoint and other files. It can be as easy as submitting your links, which then gets turned into a new iPaper link which you merely replace on your website, or you can go as far as giving their custom API to your developers.
  • Highly Secure. Since all content is embedded, you won’t be getting hacked and delivering viruses to your users.
  • Three Views. A scrollable window, a book with page-turning effects, or a slide show.
  • It’s free! Need we say more?

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The best thing about iPaper though, is how easy it is to take your existing PDFs and documents and move them over. There’s no pesky software to download or massive amounts of hours that go into this process, which is good because we don’t have that kind of time. iPaper took the right approach with this, likely knowing that in order to get the majority of publishers to switch, it needed to be seamless. We think they did a really good job.

How users can convert their existing PDFs:

  • QuickSwitch. QuickSwitch is the easiest way to upgrade websites with many documents to iPaper. QuickSwitch works in the background to convert your documents to iPaper with no user interaction, no site downtime, and no programming. You Simply copy-and-paste a small block of code into your webpage, and QuickSwitch does the rest. QuickSwitch can even embed your new iPaper content in your website.
  • Embed. Use Embed if you have only a handful of documents. To get started just upload your documents to Scribd. They will immediately be converted into iPaper and stored on Scribd’s servers. You can then copy and paste the Embed code on Scribd to embed them on your website.
  • Scribd API. Use the Scribd API to harness the full power of Scribd’s scalable conversion system, storage system, ad network, search engine, and iPaper viewer on your website at no cost to you. The Scribd API is REST-based and similar in design to Flickr’s or Facebook’s API, so a basic level of web development experience is required. The Scribd API is the most powerful and customizable way to upload documents to Scribd, convert documents to iPaper, manage existing documents on your website, and find the content you need – fast.

The iPaper approach is much more appropriate for report, newsletter and book publishers than magazine publishers. It also might not be the best viable option for your Freemiums at this stage because you don’t mind your users printing out a Freemium (especially if you’ve followed the best practice of placing your URL at the bottom of every page) and you certainly want freemiums hosted on your site.

The definite drawback to iPaper is that your documents currently need to be hosted on their site. This might be a problem for publishers wishing to maintain their domain brand. The good news is that they only launched this product yesterday, and there’s plenty of room to grow. From what we’ve read, there are already developers out there trying to develop their own scripts to embed the externally hosted documents on their own websites.

It’s only a matter of time before Scribd decides they don’t want people off messing with their product and end up implementing these scripts themselves. We’re guessing though, that this is where iPaper will lose its uniqueness since Scribd will likely need to charge a fee to justify the hosted vs. non-hosted.

Since this medium is more appropriate for report, newsletter and book publishers, on Friday we’ll talk about how magazine publishers are using the Ceros platform for a more interactive approach to online magazines and digital editions, including an interview with co-founder Dominic Duffy.


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