Online Sharing of PDFs and other Documents – Four Options Compared

## Scribd ##
* [Scribd]( could be consider the leader in this category, but there are several issues with this service.
* The most prominent problem is the way that they deal with illegitimate takedown requests. Who can trust a service that will not restore a document that is ones’ own when some other author has claimed that it is theirs? The inability to have private documents which are taken down for the same illegitimate reasons? While I liked Scribd in the beginning, they really need to get up to speed on legal issues. This is not only an issue of fair use (a copy of a paid for document uploaded and not shared), but an issue of actual intellectual property being denied inside of their service. No thank you.

## Docstoc ##
* [Docstoc]( is really the best out there in terms of functionality, though it is fairly ugly in terms of interface. Functionality beats beauty, however, in the absence of an equally functional competitor.
* There are friending/sharing options, as well as marking documents private.
* Unfortunately there is no group function, as there are (limited as they may be) in Scribd. This is one area I expect (and hope) there to be improvement soon.
* One great new application allows for direct [synchronization between a desktop and the user file system on Docstoc]( I am testing this out now, and it seems to be working pretty well.
* Docstoc also has a nice [email attachments application]( that uploads and generates URLs for email automatically.
* Note that both Scribd and Docstoc do support more than PDFs for sharing.
* [Friend me on Docstoc](

## Issuu ##
* [Issuu]( has a nice look and feel, and showed the real possibilities of flash paper, namely with artistic magazine layouts (as opposed to the business document). While this first overview and tour piqued my interest, a number of annoyances were soon encountered. There are some issues with Issuu…
* The uploader timed out at 100% when I tried an upload
* There were literally a dozen required fields before the upload would take, including several drop down menus (which are slow), as well as limited categories
* While there is an “invite my friends” option, when I used gmail to identify three friends who were users, it did not add them as people I am following. Presumably it sent them an invitation to friend me, but the people do have public profiles and potentially public documents to view, or at least documents tagged/favorited.

## Edocr ##
* [Edocr]( allows for uploading and public sharing, and their viewer is nice.
* Unfortunately they don’t appear to have any privacy settings.
* They do have groups to join and other uses can be added to buddy lists as well as messaging between users.
* The uploader was somewhat annoying with all fields required and a 10 word minimum in the description field (which wasn’t stated ahead of time, had to submit and get an error).

## Slideshare ##
* I’ve included [Slideshare]( here as a fifth possible option, because I was able to upload a regular (non slideshow) pdf and it showed up fine on their site (as a single slide vertically scrollable document). However, the embedded player doesn’t seem to work with this kind of document (player never finishes loading).
* Slideshare’s groups, follow, and privacy settings (with secret urls and embedding allowed for secret or private settings) are excellent. They have had a lot of latency and very slow to fix certain bugs in the past, however they have a good set of early adopters and there is a lot of good content up there as of now. This makes them hard to ignore.


0 thoughts on “Online Sharing of PDFs and other Documents – Four Options Compared

  1. Jeff,

    thanks for the comments, and yes we are coming out with our groups functionality soon. Please shoot me and email and we’ll feature you on our home page.

    All the Best,

    Jason, co-founder Docstc

  2. Jeff, many thanks for trialling and reviewing the key players in the market place today. It would have even been better if you ranked each of us according to certain criteria – now who would be keen to do this? Perhaps, I should put my analyst hat on and produce a non-bias report.

    I am surprised at your criticism of, as I thought the piracy issue has been fixed. In our case, we will unpublish any document contested until the publisher proves his/her rights. Fortunately, we have not received a single copyright violation to date. This may be down to the fact, we are much more smaller than our US friends.

    Given your analysis of docstoc, we changed “community” to read “groups”. Again, I am surprised that group functionality was not available at Docstoc.

    We ourselves had lot of criticism about usability. As most self-funded startups, we have many issues to deal with, and as such, we could not respond to user feedback positively. This was mainly due to team issues, which resulted in no developments taking place since Sept 07 except for minor configurations. We are now trying to address this and expect to have some vital features available in the new year.

    In terms of the usability, I must congratulate Trip and the boys at Scribd. They have done a superb job putting everyone else to shame, including ourselves. We were proud of our design layout in Sept 07, when in my opinion, both Scribd and Docstoc look undesirable. Our layouts and design require significant face-lift today.

    Going forward, most likely, we will not be competing on Scribd’s and Docstoc’s terms, as the gap has widened (they all have more features and functionality than I could count) and therefore no point in competing directly unless we win the lottery tomorrow. We are looking to carve our own niche. Once we are ready, we will make everyone aware.

    Lastly, you may be right in including Slideshare here when compared with Scribd and Docstoc. Slideshare has inspired us more than anyone else, and I hope they will continue to concentrate on slides. However, one of their recent investors refused to speak to us on the grounds of conflict of interest. So, it is probably worth watching the space to see how they spend their $4m or so.

    Ironically, everyone on this list except us seem to have raised the magic $4m. Well done, guys. What will we do if we had $4m. Perhaps spend a lot of that looking for a safe bank…Here is some documents on financial crisis

    Best regards, Manoj

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