Dec 31, 2006

Wonderful LULU

Do you know what LULU is?

I just bought this wonderful book:

Beeton's Book of Needlework with over 400 pages and all possible techniques -antique but actually new!- and it was a book download for only 1,79$!

I discovered LULU and it's amazing possibilities! I have this explanation about it from an article mentioned in Mary Bogdans site:

Lulu puts on a Canadian face


Globe and Mail Update

Just as he helped revolutionize the high-tech world, Bob Young is doing the same for book publishing. And now he's putting a Canadian face on it.

Young, who helped tilt the computer world toward the Linux operating system when he founded Red Hat Linux, is expanding, the "hassle-free" publishing venture he set up a couple of years ago. The venture has been so successful in the United States and elsewhere that he ha decided to start tailoring its image to individual countries.

And he has no idea how it to do it either. "No one knows," he told Friday, "but we'll find out."

Lulu turns the traditional notion of publishing on its ear. Unlike commercial publishers, Lulu does not invest a cent in an author; it just rakes in 20 per cent of the sale of any copy it sells. Writing the book, editing it, designing it and creating a cover are all left to the author, as is setting the price. And so is the marketing.
Print Edition - Section Front

Section A Front Enlarge Image
The Globe and Mail

Moreover, the author retains all copyright over the work.

And he's doing this not only with books, but also video, periodicals, multimedia, photo books, customized calendars and other projects.

The magic sauce in this idea, at least for the printed-word part of the business, comes from a technology that allows a single book to be printed and bound by a single expensive machine. Young has a contract with Xerox, which makes giant printers that can do all this in a "no-touch" process, in plants all around the world, and print individual or batch copies on demand. And the printer doesn't start to operate until a buyer's credit card has been approved for the sale.

"It's all done by software," he says.

The economics of print-on-demand make this a profitable concept; because no book is printed until it is sold, no books end up unsold and turned back into paper pulp, as unsold books often are.

"We're very environmentally friendly," he says.

And, he's quick to add, it's not at all like vanity publishing, which makes its profit by charging the author a price for a minimum number of copies. The vanity publisher then delivers the lot to the author's home, leaving the author to warehouse, sell and ship the books.

Young worked out the formula while marketing his latest acquisition, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. A native of Hamilton, Ont., and now living in Raleigh, N.C., Young realized that if you see both as content producers, football and book publishing are not so different. The company he created to market football, MRX, is now spending more time with Lulu.

"MRX," he says, "is now a marketing plan for digital content."

It was through that marketing that Young discovered there were different "patterns" to the kinds of books sold in different countries. France, for instance, has a high number of fashion books, while evangelical Christians dominate Lulu's business in the United States.

Localizing Lulu for Canada is basically taking the sting out seeing a line of books clearly intended for another audience. In the United States, for example, conservative Christians, with about 33 per cent of the population, form a far greater market for evangelical books than conservative Christians in Canada, who number between 3 and 7 per cent.

Young has no idea what will happen in Canada. "Well, I imagine we'll have more hockey books than the Americans," he says.

Then he ruminates about a book being published by a Swedish writer on Lulu, about how to cook a reindeer: "Perhaps that will be popular here too."

The reason for optimism is the way Lulu has racked up the numbers. In the two years since he created it, 100,000 writers have created 120,000 titles on Lulu, he says. In the past two hears, he's racked up $16-million (U.S.) in sales; each week, he says, 2,500 new titles are added from writers in 61 countries.

He is also propelled by another set of numbers he came up with. He says that the number of readers around the world is increasing at a rate of 4 per cent a year, while the number of authors is increasing at 10 per cent per year.

He calls it "authorgeddon," the publishing version of Armageddon. But it also means that there is a tremendous demand for a service such as Lulu.

When considering the prospects for writers using Lulu, it helps if one forgets fiction and poetry, which require specialized marketing. Think instead of something like software manuals, or books whose content must be updated regularly.

Rather than pulping thousands of software manuals, Lulu's print-on-demand concept allows buyers to download the latest version, which could have been updated to cover the latest features as recently as yesterday. The kind of changes required in the sciences are so rapid these days that they have far outstripped traditional publishing's ability to keep up with them without losing incredible amounts of money.

Now, Young says, it's all in the hands of the writer.

"We just provide the marketplace."


  1. I have previously read about Lulu, but it has been awhile since I've looked at the site. Wow, it has grown a lot and is amazing.

  2. I've been thinking about LULU as well, for some of my stuff---thanks for the article as i wondered about some of it--and it's Canadian, like me!

  3. tks for the link, great info.

  4. I recently purchased a book via Lulu and can say that the quality was outstanding. Much better than the vanity press books my friends have used. I was really impressed with the quality of the print. If I did not have a background in print and publishing I would not have known this book was printed one at a time.

  5. well, i ordered a book about knitting with photographs, etc. just to see how these books look like. i always think about publishing some technique books in german because there is very little literature in this language...

  6. gosh sara, you are a well of informaation. everytime i visit there's something. i have to give you credit on starting me on creative commons, informing me of etsy and the list goes on

    happy new year and thanks