One of my favorite document sharing services is Scribd. However, there's another document sharing service that has been around since early 2006, and boy if it doesn't have some good things going for it. It's called Issuu (pronounced "issue") and it's all about documents. In this case, it's only the ones in PDF format. Users can put together compilations of content and share them as they would photos or videos on other hosting services.
Issuu's big appeal is its media viewer, which presents the content like a real magazine. We've seen this in countless other sites and services, including Conde Nast's Flip.com, Adobe's Digital Editions software, Idio, and the HyperComics viewer, but Issuu manages to do it in a way that doesn't detract from the experience. Issuu in many ways makes reading online publications more enjoyable.
Each digital book is set on a simple gray background. There are little thumbnails, which are given a little zoom treatment when you mouse over them (akin to the OS X dock). The best part is that you can go into full screen mode, or simply zoom around with your mouse cursor to view each page in greater detail. It's completely intuitive, and great for documents with a lot of art (of which there are many).
Scribd still has the upper hand for written text documents, as its search is a fair bit more robust. However, it doesn't present highly visual content with as much flair. With Issuu you're stuck to PDF documents, which is a far cry from Scribd's compatibility with over a dozen popular file formats. It's still worth checking out Issuu, if only for its viewer, which is truly best of breed and a joy to use.
I've embedded a sample Issuu below. Click on it to get the full reading experience.