Calameo Alternative – Engage Customers with Flipbooks

calameo alternative

Would you like to increase your sales and expand your base of potential customers? You can do that with a digital magazine that users can interact with and read at their leisure from the device of their choosing like the free Calameo alternative Yumpu.

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To be honest, page flipping flipbooks and digital publications, in general, weren’t even on my radar 18 months ago.

I had been publishing my catalogs the old-fashioned way for years. Then, my current publisher offered me a no-cost period during which it would publish my materials as digital page flip flipbooks as well.

The results were phenomenal!

I was generating leads and sales at a higher rate, and I had long-time customers asking me if these digital magazines would be available from here on out.

The answer had to be yes, and I guess that was my publisher’s plan all along.

Unfortunately, the price of that service was too high and would just about mitigate any profits, so I began searching for a Calameo alternative.

That proved to be frustrating.

Even after trying big names like Issuu and alternative Calaméo publishing platform, I was at a loss.

That was at least until I found Yumpu.com, a publisher like Calameo, which is the fastest trending Calameo alternative.

Sales Increased 12 Percent in My First Quarter Self-Publishing

So here is my Calameo publishing review. My experience with the Calameo publications was disappointing.

First, let’s backtrack and answer the burning question…

…“What is Calameo?”

It’s a digital magazine publishing platform that allows you to self-publish your own content in an easy to read and professional format.

There are pros and cons to all self-publishing routes, but I began to feel the free account limit was more con than pro.

I was attracted to it because it offers a free account and that was indeed a good draw.

I create my catalogs as PDF files, which I send to the print publisher, so the fact that Calameo converts PDF even on the free plan had me hooked.

Well, I thought it was a simple matter to upload my pdf document and publish.

So, I decided to create a new account.

I clicked on “sign up” and created a free trial account.

The first problem I encountered with the Calameo publishing solution was that my PDF documents had to be edited in order to convert fully and appropriately.

I also had lots of upload problems.

So, there I am reading the upload guidelines.

I follow the how to upload instructions, but my file won’t upload.

I checked the specs, and I still can’t upload.

I’m getting frustrated.

The specifications are too constricting, and I’m just getting error after error.

Then there are the options to be filled in every time I try to upload my file again.

The edit requirements were severe enough that I actually failed to release a digital publication that first month on my own.

First, there is the max upload size which is quite frankly pitifully small even on the paid services.

One of the pro account features is the increased upload limit, but it’s still painfully small compared to Calameo alternatives.

Then there is the conversion queue which essentially increases the upload time, the fact that I had to scale my graphics down to a measly 150ppi…

I did get it out in month two, but I added about 30 hours of workload, which was no good.


When you work for yourself, you cost every penny of your time, and I could have spent those 30 hours on something far more profitable.

And then there were the flash player problems…

The digital magazine software that changed everything!

At the start of the next quarter, I switched to a Calameo alternative to publish my magazine, based on the recommendation of a professional acquaintance.

Best Calameo alternative

Best Calameo Alternative

The difference was night and day.

My PDF in the standard format I use was converted as is with the Calameo alternative.

Even the print-ready images.

It didn’t require editing, and even advanced aspects, such as inline links, transferred seamlessly.

Another big difference with the Calameo alternative was that my PDFs were converting to flipbooks in under two minutes and on demand.

With programa Calameo, I was put in a queue.

If there were lots of users, I had to wait.

With the Calameo alternative, I barely have time to grab a coffee before it’s done. (I still did though – you know me).

I’m not entirely sure how long the conversion took, and what concerned me most was what would happen at crunch time when using Calameo.

Could I miss a deadline because I wasn’t a paid a member and thus didn’t get prioritized?

And, How to Order Printed Copies of Publications with Calameo? (You can’t unless you’re paying for the platinum plan!)

Calameo Publishing Reviews

So here is a short review of Calameo that hopefully answers all your questions you might have about this online publishing platform and gives you all information needed.

Calameo Website

Calameo Website

Is Calameo free?

Well, the answer here is like, my original free trial, it’s only free up to a point.

So, yes and no.

There is a free login, but it is pretty limited and lacks quite a few features that are standard on alternative Calameo.

How is Calameo priced? Which plans exist?

Obviously, the calameo.com pricing list is the definitive place to look for the differences among the various plans but put simply the more expensive your paid subscription, the better service you get.

There are three levels:

  • free,
  • premium and
  • pro

So, pro vs. free – which is best?

The free account is more flexible than the 14-day trial offered by some alternative Calameo, but the free upload is an incredibly basic plan – especially compared to some.

It has a small file size and limited access to publisher tools.

You can at least embed Calameo on Facebook, but if you want to embed a video, they have an embed example to show you what to do.

You can also embed responsive viewers into your own website or embed Calameo on WordPress.

The premium plan does give you some other options, but it is barely a business account – that upload size limit is still there, and you are ad-free.

It’s a premium example of a misnomer.

To get the best you need to go top whack and pay for the platinum pro features.

The pro plan lets you remove Calameo logo, embed and improves the upload specifications.

You get an add free reader, and it’s also the first price point that integrates with Google analytics.

Which is better than Issuu Calameo but really not digital publishing industry standard.

How can Calameo be free? Is Calameo free for readers?

It’s free because the free account is there to hook you into using them and start paying them.

It’s free for readers unless the publisher has set a subscription for their digital publication.

If you were wondering “How does Calameo make money?”…

…the answer is by encouraging publishers to give them money!

How do I sign up for a paid service/plan?

They are making it very easy to upgrade your account to a paid plan.

Simply log onto your free account and choose the option that you require.

They accept credit and debit cards (French customers can use bank transfers and administrative payment orders too).

How much will it cost to use this service?

Naturally, the cost depends on the features you want to enable.

There are websites promising you a promo code on the cost of the platinum pro memberships.

The cost to get an ad-free account is roughly the same as the alternatives. (As of November 2017 it was a monthly subscription of $17 for premium membership and $53 for the pro account ).

Problems with Calameo

If you need to cancel the subscription, it’s at least easy to do.

You just click on “downgrade, ” and once your subscription expires, it will cancel the account and revert back to the basic account – with the basic features.

If you’ve found uploading to calameo.com has given you nothing but connection problems and upload problems you can throw in the towel and close Calameo account.

Just choose “delete account” on your profile page, and they will permanently remove account.

So, which functions do exist?

Calameo is mobile friendly, lets you have a table of contents, accepts various upload formats, including Microsoft Publisher and Word and has some choice of upload settings.

You can also keep some private publications.

If you pay you can sort your publications into folders, have more than one administrator and offer subscriptions.

The pro reader can be offered as a “white label” service removing any trace of their branding.

This, combined with their “subscribers” option, allows you to offer paid content through your own website.

You also have your own publisher page where all your publications are grouped together.

How to order printed copies of publications?

Going back to the point I made earlier it’s almost impossible unless you pay for the pro plan.

The basic, free, service doesn’t allow any sort of printing from the reader so you would need to make the raw pdf file available for download elsewhere on your website.

The premium account allows individual pages to be printed out.

Which is fine if you have single page articles but if you want to allow your readers to print the whole file you need to be paying for the platinum service to unlock the printer icon.

Once you’ve upgraded your account, you simply click on the pencil icon to edit the publication’s settings and choose “Allow this document to be printed” from the “Sharing” tab.

Calameo Alternative Packed with Advanced Features That Don’t Cost Extra

One of the best free Calameo alternatives is Yumpu.com. It is a free service that includes many of the Calameo pro features as free features:

• Support for mobile, tablet and desktop devices (Mac, Windows, Linux)
• Ability to integrate your own branding
• Optimization for major search engines like Google
• Full support for all major social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+,…)
• Embed anywhere on the Web, including blogs, you own website and storefronts
• Embedding for video, audio, and other multimedia
• Inline and outbound links to any Internet resources
• Unparalleled customer support available via live chat

That’s the free service in a nutshell.

It gives you much of the Calameo Premium account free!

There are paid options for this Calameo alternative, but those are only necessary if you need Google Analytics, advanced privacy settings, and personalized mobile apps.

To give you a better idea of why I love this service and think it’s worth your time, let’s take a closer look at six core features.

Unlimited Page Flip Flipbooks

How good is this for a Calameo alternative?

“I expected to create one catalog a month, but if I get a new hot product mid-month, I have the option to publish and distribute an update.”

I could be creating a dozen new digital magazines with this Calameo alternative each day if I wanted to.

There is no page limit with this Calameo alternative, as this software allows you to create an unlimited amount of free digital magazines with unlimited pages per magazine.

HTML5, Flash and JavaScript Support

These beautiful interactive flipbooks don’t just support basic PDF features.

Through JavaScript support, they can facilitate practically any PDF feature, and they also allow for most of the Adobe-specific stuff like Flash.

I also really like the fact this Calameo alternative supports outputting to HTML5.

You don’t have to be a tech-head to appreciate that HTML5 lets you support Android and Apple iOS devices with just a single digital magazine.

Search Engine Optimization

This feature of the Calameo alternative took me by surprise in a good way.

I guess shame on me for never recognizing that I could generate leads through my catalogs via SEO.

Not only can I, but this Calameo alternative service helps me do it by automatically optimizing it for the way major search engines like Google scan such documents and also by exposing it to the search engine spiders.

I’ve actually converted sales because someone searched for a particular product and found what they wanted in my current catalog.


Naturally, the option to create an app is available too.

Brand Integration

This was a biggie for me and a reason why I passed on a lot of the other free services.

I’m OK with ads. These free services have to be making money somehow, but I’m not OK with these services taking over my branding.

I have a brand I’ve built up for years, and my page flipping book needs to look it belongs alongside my storefront, blog, Facebook presence, and print catalogs.

Multimedia Integration

While not something that took me by surprise, it’s certainly a Calameo alternative feature that I underestimated.

In my print magazines, a text description and series of photographs are the only way to sell a product.

Now, I get to provide HD videos with this Calameo alternative that can provide a 360-degree view.

For one product, in particular, an air circulator, I’m able to integrate a sound file with this Calameo alternative that lets potential buyers hear just how low the white noise is.

It may seem like a small thing, but that sound file increased sales of that product by more than 30 percent.

Not Just Free. Fast, Feature-Rich and Easy to Use Too – the Calameo Alternative

This software offers a free version as well as different paid plans.

You can choose between the AdFree, WebKiosk (allows you to have a 30-day free trial version), AppKiosk and ProKiosk plan.

Nevertheless, the free version offers everything you need including a ton of awesome features!

If you still want to try out one of the other plans you can simply do that by upgrading.

How to create a magazine with the Calameo alternative?

  1. Upload PDF to Converter.
    Go to the website; Easily drag and drop PDF documents to the cloud box or choose a local or Web file from the file manager; Click the blue Start Upload button.
    Upload PDF to the Flip Book Converter

    Upload PDF to the Flip Book Converter

  2. Register a free account or log in.
    You can also login using one of your social media accounts.
    Sign Up or Login

    Sign Up or Login

  3. View magazine and make changes.
    Go to the Document Manager to look at your created magazine by clicking on the title of your magazine. To make any changes, you click on “Edit Magazine” or “Edit Page”. This way you can customzie your flipbook.
    Use the Document Manager to View or Edit Your Magazine

    Use the Document Manager to View or Edit Your Magazine

  4. Add Multimedia to your magazine.
    Click on “Add page element to your Magazine”.
    Add Multimedia like Video, Audio or Links

    Add Multimedia like Video, Audio or Links

    This way you will get to the Hotspot Editor which allows adding Links, Audio or Videos.

    Hotspot Editor

    Hotspot Editor: Add Links, Audio, Images or Videos

  5. Share your created magazine!
    Go to the Document Manager and simply click on the arrow next to “Edit Pages” and select “View”. You will now get to the page you see in the picture below. Click on “Share” and select your preferred social network.
    Share Digital Magazine

    Share Your Digital Magazine

You’re done.

That’s really all there is to it.

Most files finish converting in well under two minutes, and there’s no queuing or other artificial delays.

Better yet, your digital magazine is ready to review, share and distribute as soon as the conversion process is complete.

I have no doubt that this ease of use is the number one reason why this free online magazine software is becoming the leading Calameo alternative so fast.

At this point, you can email your magazine, embed it on your web site, share it on social media or give readers access to it via a digital newsstand.

My Final Thoughts

I can’t recommend the Calameo alternative Yumpu.com enough, and it’s pretty easy to endorse a Calameo alternative that you can try and continue to use at no cost and without strings attached.

You know that I like to comment on online publishing reviews to give you a bit of insight into digital publishing software so I feel I can offer this endorsement with quite a lot of weight, as it is a good alternative.

I’ve focused a lot on the features and ease of use, but in closing, I want to leave you with my impression of the customer support, which is just another aspect that makes this a spectacular free publishing alternative to Calameo or Issuu.

While still a non-paid member of this Calameo alternative, I contacted support via live chat for assistance with embedding video.

I expected a scripted conversation, but what I got was a rep who understood the technology and actually took the time to review the digital publications I’d created in order to make recommendations.

He even told me exactly how exactly to share my magazine using the embed code step-by-step. (But really it is not that difficult, simply insert the embed code, e.g., into your Facebook status and voila, you just shared your digital magazine).

That earned my loyalty!

Let me know what you think and if there are any other topics you would like me to cover like a Flipsnack review or rather Flipsnack alternatives or Issuu alternatives  such as PubHTML5, Anyflip,…

I already have other articles about other publishing platforms like Calameo vs Joomag and sites like Issuu, so go and check them out.

14 Comments

  1. It’s incredible (to me at least) to find out that there is a free Calameo alternative that has a lot of the features of the pro account and again, it’s all FREE!!! This is incredible and I don’t understand why that is?! Why would they give these away for free?!

    • fineartdoc
      fineartdoc

      January 12, 2018 at

      The free version shows some ads so there’s that but considering how many features they share completely free of charge, the ads are ok.

  2. I wanted to really give Calameo a try but seeing as you mentioned this free alternative, I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t try this first. What’s the harm in it, no? Maybe I even enjoy using it.

    • fineartdoc
      fineartdoc

      January 12, 2018 at

      I always recommend to people to try Yumpu first and see if they like it, because it is really easy to use and offers lots of free features. If they do not like it, it’s easy to choose Calameo or any other option.

  3. I’ve tried both the Calameo Premium account and the free Yumpu and for anyone having any doubts, just go for Yumpu. It’s free and it’s better in every way. It may sound weird but this is the truth.

  4. Robert Phil Astor

    January 22, 2018 at

    Calameo is a good service from what I’ve seen so far. I’m on my second week of the Premium account. I previously tried their free option and thought I would try the premium one for a month.

    • fineartdoc
      fineartdoc

      January 23, 2018 at

      Aubrey, it does sound weird to newcomers but Yumpu is something special and most people realize this shortly after using it.

      Robert Phil Astor, let us know how it goes.

  5. The business model that Yumpu proposes should bring all the business to them but I still see other companies thriving even if they ask money for things Yumpu gives you for free. Well, I’m using Yumpu and very happy with it.

    • fineartdoc
      fineartdoc

      February 3, 2018 at

      Many people have no idea Yumpu even exists or they don’t think it’s as good as it is.

  6. I have been a Calameo member for almost a month now and while I am happy to pay a bit of money for this I will try Yumpu seeing as it’s free. Thanks for the recommendation.

    • fineartdoc
      fineartdoc

      February 8, 2018 at

      If you don’t like it you can always go back to Calameo. Let us know how it goes.

  7. I’ve tried Issuu, Calameo, Yumpu and besides some ads they show on their free version, Yumpu does a good job against the paid options out there.

  8. Yumpu is cool and all and they do have a lot of great features but I do hate those annoying ads. You have to pay for them to go away although not much. Anyway, without the ads Yumpu would be killing their competition but I do understand that they need to make some money somehow since it’s free and all.

    • fineartdoc
      fineartdoc

      February 14, 2018 at

      Greg Peters, yes you do have to pay for adfree version but it’s just $10 which is not much compared to the $20-$60 you have to pay for other services to get the features Yumpu has for the entry price.

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