Your guide to digital flipbooks

What is a digital flipbook?

In short, digital flipbooks are the electronic version of printed publications. Think of magazines, catalogs, flyers, or brochures, but in a digital format, which can be viewed on electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, or PCs. They combine the familiarity of traditional flipbooks with the added benefits of technology.

However, they are more complex than that. Unlike PDFs or other types of documents, digital flipbooks recreate the experience of physically flipping through pages by using animations and realistic page-flipping effects. Besides enhancing the user experience, they also offer multiple advantages, such as interactivity, security, sharing, and branding, just to name a few.

Digital flipbooks are widely used in different industries, such as e-commerce, real estate, and internal communications, to meet various needs. They serve as effective marketing materials, educational resources, and promotional tools.

The history of flipbooks - 150 years from kineographs to digital publications

From simple drawings used for entertainment purposes to an integral part of the business world, the history of flipbooks is rich and filled with technological advancements. Here are the most important milestones:

1860 - Pierre-Hubert Desvignes created the first flip book
1868 - John Barnes Linnett officially patented the flip book
1895 - Herman Casler patented the Mutoscope (a mechanized version of the flip book), based on an invention of W. K. L. Dickson and Herman Casler
1897 - Henry William patented the filoscope, a device which automated the task of flipping pages
1999 - DigiCel created the first digital flipbook
Early 2000s - Pioneering companies in the domain created the technology that allowed users to convert PDFs into flipbooks.
Late 2000s - A significant advancement in flipbook software allowed users to incorporate multimedia elements such as audio, video, or links into their digital publications.
Mid 2010s - With the rise in popularity of mobile phones and tablets during the 2010s, flipbooks were designed and optimized for these devices
Late 2010s - The late 2010s allowed users to optimize flipbooks for search engines and access valuable analytics on views, downloads, average time spent, and engagement.
2020s - Digital flipbooks continue to evolve. They are now more popular than ever, especially in industries like real estate, internal communication, and research.

Infographic presenting the evolution of the flipbook from the kineograph to digital

Flipbooks - The interactive alternative to PDFs?

While PDFs have long been the go-to for sharing documents, their limitations are becoming more apparent as technology progresses. As users' needs and demands continue to grow, static content, limited sharing options, reduced security, and other constraints are no longer sufficient. In today's world, people are looking for engaging content that goes beyond the traditional PDF. For this reason, digital flipbooks are the ideal PDF alternative. They offer a better user experience and offer several advantages over traditional PDFs:


Options include but are not limited to audio and video elements, slideshows, product tags, charts, or shopping buttons.


Responsive on any device, offering users the same viewing experience on tablets, phones, or computers.


Advanced security features include sharing with a specific audience, password protection, or SSO log-in enforcement.


Multiple sharing options: as a web link via email or on social media, website embed, as a QR, or download and share offline.

Want to find out more? Take a look at the five reasons to reconsider PDFs ebook below:

The benefits of digital flipbooks

Digital animated flipbooks are suitable for any domain or industry, as they offer many benefits that improve how content is presented and consumed. Here are some of the most essential digital flipbook benefits:


Digital flipbooks lead to a dynamic user experience, as they allow the insertion of links, media types, and other similar interactive elements. They also replicate the page-turning effect of a traditional publication, creating a more realistic browsing experience.


Brand customization within digital flipbooks offers significant benefits. Companies can upload their own brand kits, use custom URLs, or create branded templates. This leads to brand consistency and reinforces brand recognition.


Digital flipbooks can be easily shared through direct links, embedded on websites, or posted on social media. They can also be downloaded in multiple formats and accessed even offline, resulting in an expanded reach and greater user engagement.


Privacy is crucial, and digital flipbooks offer multiple features and options to ensure the security of sensitive data. Password protection, access control, and SSO enforcement are just a few of the ways to protect internal documents.


Many digital flipbook platforms provide analytics tools that allow creators to track user engagement, assess the performance of individual pages, and gather valuable insights for future projects.


Digital flipbooks are designed with collaboration features that make it easier for teams to create and review content together. These collaboration features enhance teamwork and streamline the entire content creation workflow.

How to make a digital flipbook

Creating a digital flipbook involves different steps. Some of them may vary, depending on the tool or platform you use, but the process is similar. Here's a general guide on how to make a digital flipbook:

  1. 1. Create the flipbook

    Depending on the platform, this process usually starts by uploading a PDF, using a template, or starting from scratch. This also depends on the type of publication you want to create. Flyers or brochures are easier to design from scratch or to start with a template since they have fewer pages. In the case of catalogs or magazines, many prefer to upload a PDF and then edit it in a flipbook app like Flipsnack.

  2. 2. Make it interactive

    Once you have created the publication or uploaded it to the platform, the next step is to make it interactive. Since PDFs are limited from this point of view, a flipbook maker will undoubtedly offer more advanced options. Once again, depending on the publication, there are different interactive elements you could add. Product catalogs benefit from shopping buttons, product tags, or slideshows. Real estate brochures could embed a virtual tour of the property. School presentations could have a video. There are multiple options depending on the needs.

  3. 3. Publish the flipbook

    Once the digital flipbook has been edited, it is time to share it. Unlike PDFs, flipbooks can be easily shared through direct links without any attachments. This allows you to share them through direct messaging, email newsletters, social media posts, or even embed them on your website. It's essential to determine the best ways to reach your audience effectively. However, if the information in the flipbook is private, you can easily restrict access through a password or share it with specific individuals only.

  4. 4. Analyze the data

    After sharing your digital flipbook, it is time to look at how well it performs. With most platforms, you can access metrics such as views, impressions, downloads, or average time spent. Others also offer information such as devices used or location. Many platforms offer Google Analytics integration, which expands the data you can analyze.

  5. 5. Update when needed

    The information provided by analytics is essential, as it offers you feedback on user behavior, allowing you to improve your flipbooks. Since flipbooks are shared via a link, you can update the content directly on the same link, and updates will be applied in real time.

Making a digital flipbook in Flipsnack

The steps above apply to most flipbook makers, with slight variations. Not all of them offer the same amount of features, but the process itself is similar. Here is a video describing the process in Flipsnack:

Make a flipbook in Flipsnack

Learn more about digital flipbooks

Here is a collection of helpful videos that will help you gain a better understanding of digital flipbook advantages:


See how easy it is to share your PDF if you turn it into a digital flipbook. Whether you want to share it publicly or privately, Flipsnack is the solution for your needs.


Content doesn’t have to be static. Learn how to make your publications interactive and offer an engaging experience for your audience through flipbooks.

From PDFs to flipbooks

Discover how easy it is to take your PDFs to the next level by enhancing them into a digital flipbook.

More related topics

Here are more related resources divided into different categories that will help you better understand digital flipbooks.

PDF Enhancements
These articles will help you better understand the benefits of turning your PDFs into digital flipbooks.

20+ tools to maximize your PDF sales
How to make an interactive PDF
How to safely share PDFs online
How to make your PDFs SEO-friendly

Create from scratch
These articles offer information about creating digital flipbooks from scratch:
Using Flipsnack’s “Create from Scratch” Design Studio
Discover the benefits of Flipsnack’s Design tool

These articles present the benefits of using our free premade templates when creating your digital flipbooks. Additionally, you can also find some of our template selections.
How to design a fashion magazine like Vogue
How to create a stunning travel brochure
33+ company newsletter templates for employee engagement
How to make a real estate brochure
Tips and templates for your brand guidelines
Magazine templates
Catalog templates
Brochure templates
Presentation templates

Create your digital flipbook