Lulu’s Labors Lost?

So, I saw the bit about Lulu “partnering” with Ingram to “sell mainstream books” in addition to Lulu’s self- and micropress offerings on I think ireaderreview, and it’s been bugging me for a couple of days.

See, if you’re adding Ingram to your “bookstore,” by incorporating their catalog for sale via dropship, it’s sort of like entering into a business deal with Amazon.com by posting affiliate links.  Well, technically, yes, but not something you phone home to mother about.  It costs something like $10k to get a team of South Asian programmers to integrate Ingram feeds into an existing shopping cart. Any existing shopping cart.  Given the economy, maybe you have to put up more of a bond with Ingram/LSI to get the books flowing, but it’s the kind of thing you could do with a decent IT severance check.

And, considering that every sale of a Malcolm Gladwell book via Lulu is not a sale of the next Tucker Max, say, I gotta chalk this mainstreaming up as #fail.

It gets worse.

Lulu, which had tried, previously, to automatically convert from .pdf into Mobipocket for Kindle, is now doing Epub.  There’s some kind of an automated upload feature, which I played with, and it does accept Calibre-generated epub, but loses the cover image.  Now, to be fair, Mobipocket files sent through the Amazon DTP interface also lose their covers, but at least you can, you know, upload your cover, and not have to use some Lulu cover generator.  I guess they’ll fix that.

There’s a fee of $1.49, for each ebook sold, owing to “hosting costs” or some other B.S., and another $.99 for using Industry Standard DRM from Adobe, so no, she won’t be attending, and publishers won’t derive nearly the “low-cost!” value from Lulu ebooks that they get from the Kindle store.

I suppose, I could put Silk in that way, on the assumption that linkups with Sony and BN are forthcoming, but the fact that the Lulu person feels the need to reiterate Adobe’s BS about their DRM-encrypted files “quickly becoming the industry standard” does not inspire confidence.

After all, with the exception of Galleycat, every reporter who got the epub story wrong lost their job within a year, and the clock’s tickin’ on the kittenCompanies who’ve bet on Adobe’s ability to execute have suffered greatly in the marketplace, many of them pushing out new product ship dates to Osbornian levels.  Publishers, while paying lip service, have instead given most all of their books to Kindle, 360k at the moment, and a few here and there to other formats.

On the plus side, between Lulu and Amazon Kindle, Mark! Coker! of Smashwords!!! is now somewhat less likely to consistently explain to me how my business will change.  Or if not, he’ll be even more of a joke.

But I dunno, at every book festival (and even with the economy I do 10 a year), I meet potential self-published authors.  For a long time, I’ve told them go with Lulu first, get a feel for what you’re up to, then do CreateSpace for a larger market. Remember: never, under any circumstances, pay much for “add-on services,” marketing, editing, other, and unless you’re doing five or six revisions (happens), don’t spend more than $20 for both networks ($50 if you keep changing stuff).  Oh, and these guys, of course, can kiss off.

It does appear that folks are skipping that first step in the Disruptive self-publishing playbook.  Real conclusion here is that CreateSpace has been eating Lulu’s lunch, forcing them into other business avenues.  Happens.

Hopefully, I’ll keep recommending Lulu next festival season.

About dmoynihan

Me here.
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