Monday, September 12, 2005

What's a lulu?

In this case, it's the idea of Bob Young, from Hamilton, Ontario (that's in Canada), a free, self-publishing, Print-on-Demand worldwide service that is revolutionizing the self-publishing industry. But the self-publishing is not only for book authors, it's also for musicians and photographers. A BBC News article explain what Lulu is about:
"Many works are rejected by regular publishers because they do not think many copies of a title will be sold, and the cost for them of going into production cannot be justified.

"Authors are rejected not because the book is terrible but because the publisher thinks the book will not sell enough," says Mr Young.

Furthermore, whereas normally the novelist or artist will get a 10% royalty of sales, with the Lulu model the creator gets 80% of sales takings and the website just 20%.

"Our income model is almost the complete opposite of regular publishers'. We provide the market and the only time you pay is when you sell a copy of your book. You don't pay anything unless you sell.
Authors build their books themselves (hence the free aspect of it) then set a price. Buyers go onto the Lulu website and buy the book there, which is printed and sent right away, in a similar fashion to Amazon or Booksurge.

Lulu seems to attract niche subjects (Titles such as Crowd Safety and Survival, or Raw Food for Busy People), although there's pretty much every subject available.

A caveat: Self-publishing means that, more often than not, the books have not been edited professionally, or that the awful gets published along with the good. Many books are rejected by publishers because they are bad, not only because they don't meet bestseller status.

And another caveat: Print-on-Demand (or POD) doesn't equate to self-publishing. POD is a printing method, not a publishing method. Lulu is straddling both, and may end up doing quite a bit of harm to the small independent publishing industry that uses POD to print its book. But then, Mr. Young would say, who cares? The publishing industry is a business, nothing more.

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