Issuu Adds New Features In the Race to Catch Up To Scribd

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Issuu, a company that lets you upload a PDF or other document and then flip through it easily on a dedicated Webpage or in a small embedded widget, is adding features to its service and site with the aim of becoming a more engaging destination for users. We’re big fans of Issuu—when the company first launched, it was one of the first services of its kind whose interface and functionality didn’t suck. Other popular document sharing services include Docstoc and Scribd.

Issuu says that it’s focusing on adding features to make the the site more of a community for both its free users and enterprise customers. Last year, the startup launched the beta of Issuu Pro, a way for professional publishers to bring their magazines and newspapers to the internet and enhance them with a variety of digital features and the ability to customize the viewing experience. Publications are ad-free (meaning no ads in the viewer from Issuu—any ads in the magazines or documents themselves remain), and publishers were only charged when their content was viewed, with pricing ranging from $1.10 to $19 per 1,000 publication views.

Now, Issuu is taking its enterprise offering out of beta and changing its pricing model to a flat rate of $19 per month for any number of publications and any number of readers. Issuu has also redesigned its homepage for free and enterprise users so that the page gives you information about how your publications are performing including a newsfeed, statistics, and subscribers.

The site has also launched a collaborative Groups feature, where people can collect and discuss publications related to any topic. Anyone can quickly set up a group, style it and then invite friends. You can add publications and/or discussions directly, or by bookmarking a publication while reading it. Groups can be private or public, and about any topic you choose. For example, I found a group called “Travel the World,” which included travel guides.

Issue has enhanced embedding by adding customization and multiple view modes (magazine, presentation, text) and allows a full screen pop-up directly from the embed widget. Each widget now includes a Share menu (think YouTube), where users can share, embed, and explore without leaving the widget. And the site has added a Library feature, a user-friendly manager and publishing tool where you can edit, organize and publish/embed directly from the management platform.

Document sharing services are finding a strong user base and are growing rapidly. Scribd, which also has a community-focus to its user interface, offers the ability to create and join groups. Like Issuu, Scribd has a free service and a premium service for enterprises. According to ComScore’s March numbers, Scribd definitely has the edge over both Issuu and Docstoc, bringing in 12 million unique visitors worldwide in March. Docstoc came in second with 2.89 million unique visitors in March, with Issuu coming in third with 2.4 million unique visitors. On Quantcast, Scribd had 12 million unique visitors in the U.S. in March, Docstoc had 1.4 million visitors, and Issuu had close to 450,000 unique visitors in the U.S. However, Issuu’s new interface and features are really visually compelling and easy to use. Scribd is the frontrunner in the race to be the most popular document sharing service, but Issuu and Docstoc keep adding innovative new features. Competition breeds innovation.

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