Youblisher: Flip through documents all real world-style

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Internet.  It’s been good to me.  Just thinking back to all the cool Web sites I’ve been to, all the great people who are on it, all the doors it has open for me – I mean, it’s great.  To paraphrase the newly-bleached Sammy Sosa, “The Internet has been very, very good to me.”  That said, there are some things I miss about the analog world.  Long, languid walks in the park.  A nice comfy blanket and a decaf extra-hot mocha soy grande latte, hold-the-Stevia. A delicious steak.  And a good six-beer buzz on a Monday afternoon.  Y’know, the little things.  In fact, it’d be really nice if some of these sensations from the analog world could some how drift into the digital mirror-realm to make things less cold and soul-less.  Enter, stage right, Youblisher.


Youblisher is a free tool that makes your pdf documents flippable and quickly loading. Like physically flippable; kinda like in 3D or something.  It is like touching a real document in the real world of blankets, steaks, and brews.  It’s a subtle thing that greatly improves the viewer’s reading experience, and it may, in fact, may make him/her question the nature of reality itself.  Lord knows it did for me.

I immediately clicked on the Free Demo link – the demo document is a sample product guide – and felt a little surge of awe as the pages flipped (and it made the pages-flipping sound too; make sure your speakers are on!)  Better yet, there was no digital coffee that I’d inevitably spill on it.  Immediately sold, I next registered so Youblisher could sprinkle its page-flipping pixie dust on one of my documents.

  • Upon loggin in, I was taken to a nice, clean page where I could Add a New Publication.
  • I uploaded a PDF from my computer and clicked Submit.  In mere moments, my pdf would do that cool page-flipping stuff!
  • I was prompted to add a title, description, tags/keywords, a language (currently on English and Dutch, but whatever), and a document category (e.g. Magazine, Business Report.)

Upon submitting, the document began its journey through the air, to the wireless router down the hall, over the Atlantic and out into the world, where on some distant foreign server the page-flipping fairies would engage in their ritual dark art of overlapping and superimposing the real and imaginary, the digital and analog, like an existential Venn Diagram.  Such mysterious witchcraft takes time: the site alerted me I was #11 in the queue and that my job would ready in approximately 55 minutes (I selected a 28 page PDF.)  But then, all of a sudden – like, two minutes later – it was done!

And it worked!  I flipped and flipped to my heart’s content.  Flip, flip, flip.  Visually, they even laid it out so there was a shadow behind the document, giving it another layer of real-world-ness.  I was also provided a url link of the pdf – posted on Youblisher’s server – as well as a text link, and embedding code.  Man!  All of these things were listed next to a screen-shot of the document itself in the List All Documents portion of the site, shown here:

My "List all publications" page
My “List all publications” page

And that was that.  Done.

I was thoroughly pleased with the whole proceedings; it was – dare I say it – kinda almost fun. And now, in the interests of my unimpeachable integrity, do feel compelled to pass along some relatively cosmetic suggestions:

  • First-time users to the site will see it has two main areas of navigation, labeled “It is 100% Free,” and below that, “3 Easy Steps.”  Beneath each, “Start Now,” which leads visitors to the same Sign Up page.  I’d consider deleting the “Start Now” underneath “It is 100% Free,” and move up “3 Easy Steps” such that there’s only one “Start Now” prompt. Phew.
  • I’d make the “Click Here for a Demo” font bigger, or box it, or color it differently; something to make it stand out a bit more. The demo really sells this tool and the sooner visitors see it, the better.
  • In the Demo portion, on the bottom right of the screen there are icons such as Zoom, Print, etc.  Fairly intuitive stuff, but hover-over labeling would be useful.

In closing, Youpublisher has done the seemingly impossible: it’s merged the digital and analog world to make a modern task – viewing a PDF – feel old and familiar.  Maybe, perhaps, my preconceived ideas of what’s “digital” and “analog,” tangible and intangible, right and wrong, black and white, old and new – heck, time itself…maybe it’s all wrong.  Maybe I don’t know anything.  Maybe, just maybe, reality isn’t even really real.  Hmm.

(Gazes out the window ruminatively.)

Well, on that note, I am hereby taking an indefintate leave of absence SlapStart to study these very issues in a contemplative fashion in the Himalayan foothills of Yumzho Yumco, in the Shannan Prefecture of Tibet.  I shall return when I have suitable answers.  Namaste y’all!

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