October 24, 2014

Create Your Own Flip Book from RSS Feeds

pressjackHere’s something fun I found.  PressJack.  You can create your own flipbook magazine from your or anyone’s RSS feeds.  I tested this out using their free version with my own blog feed, several CRE blogger feeds (take a look!) and a listings feed.  There were some quirks (resizing the window crashed the app), but overall, it was easy to use.

You start by downloading the software and creating an account.  Next step is to create your publication name, then add the feeds you want to include.  You can search for the feeds if you don’t have the actual feed URL.  Feed titles can be changed and categories added to create a table of contents if you have multiple feeds.

Once that’s done, you can view each article and edit any text, remove photos or add video.  Then you build the magazine which can take a while if you have a lot of feeds/posts.

After it’s built, you can preview it on the Output tab.  That’s also where you can customize the look.  The layout can’t be modified except for the screen size which you can set to resize by the user screen or a fixed width/height.  But you can select colors, background or add a logo.  I only changed the accent color for my CREOutsider test so the photo shows how the default settings appear.

Here’s where you’ll see some odd output.  Not sure how much of it is due to PressJack or how the feeds are set up.  The feed title is used as the author so if you’ve got a keyword loaded blog title, it can look clunky.   And the word “by” appeared twice in some of the author line in some cases.

Otherwise, the build was flawless.  Photos looked good, inline links were included automatically and there’s a link to the article after the post.  Plus there are several sharing options and tools that you can add/remove/configure.

One annoying feature in the free version is the ads.  No, they’re not just at the bottom of each page – one fills the entire screen when you scroll to read the article.  It’s a strong incentive to pay the $499 for the pro version which also gives you reader stats.  You’ll also be able to create an unlimited number of publications instead of just 3.

Another drawback – as with most flipbook creators, this is in Flash, so no viewing on Apple devices!  And the content is not refreshable by the user.  You have to build and publish a new edition.  Their site claims you can set PressJack to do this automatically, but their FAQ states that it’s “in the works.”

Once the automatic updating is in place, this would make a great personal feed reader though you might miss things like marking read articles, sending to Instapaper/ReadLater or integrating your own URL shortener.  But you can search through all the posts, add notes, create bookmarks and look at past editions.

PressJack could be used as an alternative way to display listings, combine multiple company/personal blogs in one place or create a CRE themed magazine for your clients.  If you’re a Paper.li user, give this a try so you can add more than just articles from your own Twittter feeds.

If you just like the idea of creating flipbooks from documents, of the ones I researched, FlippingBook is the one I’d get.  It not only converts to Flash but has an HTML conversion option so your book is viewable on most devices.  You’ll need the pricier Basic ($299) or Pro version ($399 – Google Analytics and security options) for that feature.