Digital Publishing Platform Comparisons

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Written by Matt Berringer

December 15, 2021

The world of digital publishing has many content creation and hosting solutions, each with a unique set of advantages. If you’ve been using static PDFs to publish your content, you should know there’s a vast array of solutions to help you make your content more user-friendly, immersive and interactive.

If you’ve been using one of these solutions and are looking for a change, it will take some consideration to arrive at the right decision. With options from Nxtbook Media, Issuu, Joomag and more for a digital publishing platform, you have many possibilities to weed through.

In this post we’ll compare:

IssuuFoleonBlueToadGTxcel3D IssueNxtbook

This post also dives into the questions to ask yourself when choosing a platform, which platform is the best for your industry, and the main differences to be aware of. Let’s get started with the comparisons. Let’s explore the publishing options available and how to compare them head to head so you can find the best solution for you and your team.

What to Consider When Looking for a Digital Publishing Platform

The first step to choosing a digital publishing platform is establishing goals for your content strategy. If you’re a print media publisher, you probably have different objectives and needs than a business that will use its digital content for marketing products or services.

An excellent first step is to ask some focusing questions within your internal team about what you need to succeed. If you already have a digital publishing platform, what do you like and dislike about it? What is the reason you’re hunting for an alternative? This step helps you prioritize the capabilities you need and which benefits you should be looking for.

Benefits of the Platform

Each platform available offers some unique advantages that make them ideal for certain digital publishers. Consider the benefits of each and compare them against which ones will be most useful for your specific needs.

First, there are many different types of publishing platforms that allow you to design and share your content in different ways. Each option will contribute to a unique user experience compared to the other types of publishers available. Some of the types of platforms include:

Choosing from among these options is an essential first step because the type of platform will drive your user experience in many ways. For example, here at Nxtbook Media, we offer both responsive and replica bundled content publishers, and we’ll often recommend one or the other depending on your specific goals, situation and challenges.

Required Features for Your Business or Organization

Besides the types of publishing options out there, you’ll find many platform providers who differentiate their products in specific ways. For example, Nxtbook Media’s nxtbook4 is a replica publisher that’s more customizable and interactive than many of our competitors. Other replica publishers may differentiate on pricing or ease of use while compromising on advanced features or even allow you to publish for free in exchange for the ability to run their own ads on it.

Once you know what tools you need, you might want to compare several products and providers to see how they stack up. Consider the exact required features and services you need for your organization, such as:

Considering the Publishing Needs of Your Specific Industry

Every industry uses its digital publications for unique purposes. Some use content marketing to educate potential customers. Others cultivate an audience through a digital magazine, which they use to sell ad space. Still, others may provide the magazine for free to paying customers as a value-add or sell publications with valuable research a la carte.

With so many ways to incorporate published content into your business, you must consider your particular industry’s needs and use cases.

B2B Enterprise Marketing

B2B marketers and sales representatives have one of the most involved buyers’ journeys. When selling to an organization, you have to convince many decision-makers, and the buyers will likely conduct in-depth research on the product before committing. Thus, B2B marketing involves a lot of informative, in-depth content to help customers understand the product and build brand authority. B2B content marketers regularly publish sales decks, whitepapers, product selection guides, catalogs and other informative publications.

Publishing solutions for B2B companies must provide:


The publishing industry has a major opportunity in adopting digital publishing avenues and converting print audiences into digital subscribers. Online, they can gather more audience data and find new readers through search engine optimization (SEO).

Digital publishers need a flexible platform with:

Higher Education

Alumni magazines, campus publications, newsletters, lookbooks and brochures are all central to higher education institutions. These publications engage your students before, during and after their time in college while bringing staff, donors and other key stakeholders into the fold. Particularly with collateral for prospective students, colleges and universities must find ways to stand out. Typical high school juniors and seniors are inundated with print mailers and emails from universities during their application process, and your college needs to show off its unique selling points.

Using a digital publication is one way to do that, so long as the platform has sophisticated and flexible design options that can make the collateral stand out. In general, higher education marketers need to look for features such as:

Sports Leagues

Sports leagues can boost their content marketing game with online magazines, newsletters, exclusive fan guides, game day programs and team or player retrospectives. In-depth, premium content builds fan loyalty to help teams fill stadiums and deluxe skybox suites, gain TV viewership on game day, sell jerseys and earn more traction in their league. Much of sports marketing is building on the excitement and drama of the game, which is why storytelling through bundled, narrative content is so compelling.

Sports leagues and teams need to look for digital publication solutions that offer:

Travel and Leisure

Hotels and resorts, tourism boards, travel agencies and others in the travel and leisure industry need to build excitement for traveling and the experiences available in faraway places. The best way to do that is with travel brochures, magazines and visitor guides that highlight all a particular destination offers. Tourism boards often use digital publishing platform magazines to guide visitors to popular restaurants and attractions in the area.

Businesses and organizations in the travel and hospitality industry need digital publishing options that offer:


Associations often publish print magazines for the professionals or enthusiasts who count themselves as members of the organization. Newsletter and digital magazine publishing are crucial for association communications because they encourage regular interactions with the community, add value to memberships and provide excellent sponsorship opportunities by engaging a niche audience.

Associations need dedicated publishing solutions with features such as:

Marketing Agencies

Marketing agencies need to support clients across many different industries. They can use next-level publishing solutions to help their premium content stand out and provide stellar results for their clients.

When publishing digital content for their clients, marketing agencies require features such as:

Financial Services

Financial service companies need to build a high level of trust with their clients while also educating them about the complex world of finance. Premium bundled digital content affords a unique opportunity to connect with current and prospective customers. They often publish magazines with financial advice, white papers, annual financial reports, sales collateral and prospectuses. Their publishing platform should offer:

Health Care

Health care and medical device companies require an easy-to-navigate publishing solution. These companies’ highly technical products often require catalogs hundreds of pages long to provide detailed product specifications. Others in the health care industry may need to produce brochures to educate patients on medical conditions and treatment options.

Content publishers in this industry require features such as:

Main Differences Between Platforms

While digital publishing tools all offer the same basic functionality of being able to package curated content for online viewing, they accomplish it in different ways. Some of the main points of comparison between publishing software solutions include:

Licensing and User Options

Publishing platform licensing may come with a few different tiers, and each provider breaks down their pricing tiers differently.

Different publishing platforms may distinguish their tools by what comes with a standard license and what requires an upgraded license for advanced features. While publishing platforms from Nxtbook Media provide all features with a base license, other publishers like Foleon offer only basic features with their base licenses and require upgraded tiers for more advanced features.

Platforms may also distinguish themselves by how many licensed users are available with a particular plan. Nxtbook Media software licenses allow up to four users or more, depending on the plan. Other services may price their software for one to three users. Our licensing tiers are distinguished by the number of projects you can publish and the level of training and support that comes with the product. For increased licensing flexibility, we also offer special pricing and licenses for single projects.

Available Design Tools

Each digital publishing platform has a unique design interface. For example, nxtbook4’s replica publishing platform lets you start with a PDF and drag and drop design elements and interactive features. In contrast, PageRaft has a blank-slate design interface with incredible design flexibility, letting you change the page width for individual pages, incorporate enhanced interactive content and responsive text and images for an awesome-on-any-device design.

User Experience

Every platform offers a unique user experience, and the best way to get a feel for each is to browse examples of collateral produced with a particular digital publishing or replica platform. Look for sample projects from the products you’re considering and approach them as a potential reader. How do you feel using it? How easy is it to navigate? Consider viewing example publications on both desktop and mobile devices to get the best sense of the experience. 

Every platform approaches user experience a little differently. Some publishers may interrupt your bundled content with their own ads or have complex design elements that make content load slowly or video and audio clips that play automatically, taking the reader by surprise. Platforms that do well with user experience may instead offer features such as:

Leveraging Current Assets (PDFs)

Suppose you already have a fully designed print magazine, which is often the case for traditional publishers, associations, higher education marketers and businesses leveraging printed collateral. In that case, you may want a simple way to transform the design into a digital asset. While static PDFs are unresponsive and hard to navigate on mobile devices, you can easily turn them into a user-friendly digital asset with a replica publishing platform.

If this is what you need, look for a publishing platform that lets you upload a PDF and quickly drag and drop interactive elements to enhance the reader experience. Replica publishers like BlueToad and nxtbook4 let you upload and convert a PDF into a flipbook that’s mobile-friendly and easy to navigate.


Every platform will require some technical skills, even the ones with an intuitive, beginner-friendly design interface. Some publishing platforms will sell you a license and leave you to figure things out independently with some tutorials and a community knowledge base. You may have to call a helpline for additional support. Other publishing platform licensing comes with one-on-one training sessions and dedicated, best-in-class personalized support.

Here at Nxtbook Media, all our pricing plans come with product and technical support, while our Pro and Platinum plans come with dedicated account managers. We even offer complete design and production services and strategic consulting to help you make your publications genuinely immersive, engaging and appealing to the eye. Working at one of the best places to work in Pennsylvania, our support team genuinely cares about your projects and will work hard to make sure you’re successful.

Exploring Your Platform Options

You have so many platforms and software providers to choose from when creating your digital magazine or other online publications. Here’s a quick publishing platform comparison guide to help you evaluate the solutions available:

Nxtbook Media

The fantastic thing about working with Nxtbook Media is that you have two publishing platform options to choose from — nxtbook4 and PageRaft. While PageRaft offers an innovative, immersive, multimedia content experience, nxtbook4 offers replica flipbook publishing with enhanced responsive PDF capabilities.

Both tools offer features such as a mobile-friendly viewing experience, SEO tools that can help you get found online and interactive design elements. As a company, we also offer personalized support and production services to design your content for you while you’re learning the program or short on time. Let’s explore each of these platforms.


Issuu is a digital content creation and distribution platform that lets you reformat your PDF content for optimal viewing on particular channels, such as your website and social media. Like Nxtbook Media, it enables users to leverage SEO through Issuu’s domain authority and link readers to your website. Its flipbook features are most comparable to nxtbook4.

The Pros of Issuu include:

The Cons of Issuu include:


Foleon is a responsive web-based app similar to PageRaft and acts as a content creation platform that allows its users to create an engaging user experience and bring static content to life with lots of design flexibility.

The Pros of Foleon include:

The Cons of Foleon include:


BlueToad is a replica publisher that lets users upload a PDF of their designed, ready-to-publish assets so readers can view them in a simple, digital flipbook format. It is most comparable to Nxtbook Media’s nxtbook4 replica platform. They also both offer an article view feature that pulls content from a static PDF to create a responsive viewing experience.

The Pros of Bluetoad include:

The Cons of Bluetoad Include:


GTxcel is the software provider behind Turnstyle, which offers an article view feature similar to nxtbook4’s article view. Users can upload a static PDF and turn it into a responsive, interactive article while embedding videos and other interactive elements. The tool is specifically marketed for publishers and higher education companies.

The Pros of Turnstyle include:

The Cons of Turnstyle include:

3D Issue

3D Issue is another tool for turning static PDFs into interactive flipbooks. It offers a content hub and native app building for publishers to organize their publications for readers. You’ll also find an “Experios” creator similar to mobile-first responsive content options like Foleon and PageRaft.

The Pros of 3D Issue Include:

The Cons of 3D Issue include:

Choose Nxtbook Media’s Interactive Solution

Nxtbook Media is a comprehensive solution for creating, distributing, tracking and monetizing content online. With Nxtbook Media’s nxtbook4 and PageRaft bundled content publishing solutions and superior interactivity and customizability, we have a solution that’s right for every user. We’re also one of the few companies that offers comprehensive design and production services to ensure your publication looks stellar and immerses your target audience in your top-notch content.

When you book a demo with Nxtbook Media, you can see both our replica and responsive platforms for yourself and work with our experts to determine which is right for you. And since both solutions are under one roof, it’s easy to switch from one to the other if you decide another option will better suit your needs. We encourage you to explore our pricing plans, look at example publications and contact our team directly to discuss your needs and options.

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