Lulu’s been exhibiting quite a few problems lately. Here are two posts on Lulu’s mishandling of ebooks and their clients. The first is reprinted from Mike Cane’s iPad Test blog, titled Lulu And The iBookstore: Say NO!
Don’t do it.
ISBNs. Apple requires ISBNs on eBooks. Lulu can assign one for free.
And who will own that ISBN? If you’re getting it for free, I doubt that’s going to be you. See why ISBN ownership matters.
Validation. Apple has a strict file validation process. All files submitted must pass ePubCheck 1.0.5. If you create your own ePub file, you must verify that it will pass. Lulu can only guarantee validation for ePub files created through our conversion service.
Of course they’ll guarantee validation of ePub files only they create — because they want you to pay them to create the files! They also probably don’t want you to know it’s possible for you to validate your own ePub files either by downloading software or doing it online. Both of those options are free.
The creator revenue that you receive per sale will be 80 percent of the profit after deducting Apple’s share.
If you can’t see the math trick there, even a math retard like me can. The Apple split is 30% to Apple, 70% to publisher. You should be your own publisher (or join a writers co-op — such as). Here, Lulu is the publisher. That 70% becomes a new 100% and Lulu is skimming a whopping twenty percent off of it! So you wind up with fifty percent of the book’s price. That’s for suckers.
For a limited time, Lulu will provide free distribution to the iBookstore.
Then why skim twenty percent off the top?! Or do they intend to charge an additional “distribution fee” on top of everything else later?
The simplest way to reach the iBookstore is to have us convert your file into an ePub. As mentioned earlier, we guarantee that it will pass Apple’s validation process
Making sure an ePub file is compliant with the ePub spec is not an “Apple validation process” by any stretch of the imagination!
The other approach is a manual one. You’ll need to make your own ePub file and make any necessary improvements until is passes ePubCheck 1.0.5.
Ah, how nice that this alternative is mentioned, long after the hard sales pitch. But notice the link is only to the download software, not the website version!
1. Lulu will assign a free Lulu ISBN to your book.
Again, who will own that ISBN?
2. Lulu will price the iBookstore version of your book to comply with Apple’s price guidelines and restrictions. Authors will not be able to change the price for now.
And that price will be what, exactly? With Lulu taking a whopping twenty percent skim, you can bet dear Lulu wants the highest possible price! And that highest possible price might not be in your best interests.
If you’re a current Lulu customer, this probably makes some sense — in the “Aw, let them handle this crap” apathetic sense. And you deserve getting taken to the cleaners for being so apathetic!
There is still no great rush for anyone to get into the iBookstore. The First Mover big-sale possibilities that app makers enjoy just aren’t possible with books. The app makers are generally like you — small. There are very few big publishers clogging the App Store with a ton of apps. They are, however, five big publishers clogging the iBookstore with their books!
Learn what it means to create an ePub file. Learn what the reasonable costs for doing that are, if you don’t believe you can do it yourself — or don’t want to DIY. Learn what an ISBN means and why metadata is crucial. And also learn what rights you’re possibly signing away! There is plenty of help and experience out there.
The days of writers expecting a traditional publisher to do everything are over. And these new “publishers” masquerading as DIY services are like the apocryphal story of Levi Strauss during the California Gold Rush — he, legend would have you believe, got rich selling the miners jeans. And the miners went broke not finding the gold they expected.
There is no gold rush at the iBookstore for self-published books, so calm down and don’t get taken to the cleaners.
Second, here’s an excerpt from Pod Peep’s Questions for Lulu. Lulu’s purpose is getting away from them. I don’t know all of their numbers, but two recent things stick out: Lulu abandoning their public offering. Secondly, Ning going with a pay-only service due to a poor business model. Granted, “free” self-publishing isn’t really free with Lulu because printing costs are so exorbitantly expensive, so Lulu makes a fair amount per book, but the Ning situation demonstrates the problem with a freemium service. Lulu may be looking to gain money elsewhere.
Julie Anne Dawson asks on Pod Peep: Why is there a $1.49 surcharge added to ebooks?
This is potentially a “file storage fee.” Julie Dawson answers in the comments:
The problem with the file storage fee theory is that it does not take into account several points. First, many books that are for sale digitally on Lulu use the same PDF as the print product. There is no additional storage. It is the same file. Lulu would be storing this file regardless of whether or not it was sold in print. Second, while they are adding this fee to products for sale, free products have no “fee” attached. A free file would, presumably, be just as expensive to “store” as one for sale.
Careful, Lulu. Your service offers an awesome amount of freedom for writers, but more press like this and writers are going to be looking elsewhere.
About the Author: Henry Baum
I’m the author of The American Book of the Dead. The novel won Best Fiction at the DIY Book Festival and the Gold IPPY Award for Visionary Fiction. Largehearted Boy says it's "reminiscent of Philip K. Dick and Haruki Murakami, a book that boldly explores the future and defies genre." I'm also the author of North of Sunset, winner of the Hollywood Book Festival Grand Prize, and The Golden Calf - first published by Soft Skull Press, with editions in the U.K. (Rebel Inc.) and France (Hachette Littératures). Visit henrybaum.com for more information. I’m the editor of Self-Publishing Review.