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July 08, 2009

Has Lulu Gotten Too Big For Its Britches? | printable version

I receive frequent emails from authors who ask why they should pay us (BookLocker) to publish their book instead of using a so-called "free" service like I've written about what I call "bargain basement POD publishers" in the past.

Lulu used to have a pretty good reputation. Heck, I even used to refer authors to them. No more! Since they've grown so large, started using different printers, and laid off a chunk of their staff last year, things appear to be not-so-rosy at Lulu these days. Have they grown so big that they can't keep up with their authors' needs anymore?

It appears Lulu is partnering with other companies now, perhaps giving them money to promote their services. An author forwarded one of these partnership emails to me this week, and asked if I thought it was a good deal. I'm not sure why Lulu is trying to expand even more when it appears they can't even take care of all the authors they already have. Some authors are reporting they've been waiting weeks for Lulu to respond to their complaints. At BookLocker, we've received numerous emails from authors who want to move their books from Lulu to BookLocker because they are so frustrated with Lulu. While we can't accommodate everyone (we only publish a small percentage of manuscripts submitted for consideration because, unlike most POD publishers, we do screen for quality and salability), I am always happy to meet new authors. If we can't help them at BookLocker, I refer them to another company that has a good reputation. (No, we don't get anything at all for referring authors elsewhere.) For those who are accepted, I work with all BookLocker authors one-on-one during the publication phase, which ensures they receive timely responses (usually same-day), and the respect they deserve.

Here's my response to that author.

Lulu is what we consider a bargain basement POD publisher, which appears to have a growing reputation for poor customer service. Their own forums contain numerous complaints posted by their own authors. And, while they say they're free, they upsell you on services along the way and their specs aren't for newbies, that's for sure.

Here are some stories from Lulu's authors, posted directly to Lulu's own forum:

"Refund/Replacement....Why is it so hard to get a response?"

"I have ordered the published by you package from Lulu but as I am unhappy with the printing quality so far and lack of communication..."

"Look at the support section in the forums. They don't answer any questions anymore. None. Not one simple one. I will not order again from this company. Save your money and find somewhere else."

This is an example of how their specs can drive you nuts, making you more likely to fall for their upselling techniques - and pay them hundreds.

You can review the entire forum to see how much trouble people have with their specs and uploading requirements here:

"OMG! $40.96 for my book on Lulu! Is Distribution worth it?"

"I've got a couple of documents that print in the USA but for some reason can't be printed in the UK. All my European orders have gotten hung up with a RIP 180 error..."

" what stretch of imagination does it cost almost 100 ($160 U.S.) to post 2 hardback books..."

"No, that's Lulu's shipping. Wait until you order about 3 books at a time or so. Just be sure to be sitting down as it's quite the shock."

"I know for certain that some customers have withheld from buying my books due to LULU's high shipping costs."

"Can someone please help me. I am desperate. I have been emailing lulu for over 3 weeks and they have not responded once."

"I e-mailed Lulu help over three weeks ago, and re-sent the e-mail twice more, but have still no response."

"We've just received the proof copy of our first A4 size book, perfect bound, and the pages began to fall out almost immediately!"

"Published by Lulu Price Horror!"

Lulu might close their forum to casual surfers after this article is posted so click while you can!

To read more about bargain basement POD publishers, see Bargain Basement PODs - You Get What You Pay For.


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