Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Lulu - Acting The Teapot with Amazon's Marketplace?

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This email was sent to many Lulu authors today and seems to be creating a little bit of a stir at the moment for all the wrong reasons.


"Dear Lulu Author,

Congratulations, your book has been selected for listing on's Marketplace! As a result, your book will now be easily found on the world's largest online bookseller.

There will be some differences between your listing on Lulu and your listing on Amazon. Amazon charges a fee to list your book, and in order to cover that cost your book will be listed with a 30% markup; however your royalty will remain the same, and your book's price on Lulu will not change. Furthermore, your book sales on Amazon will reflect in your Lulu account immediately.

Lulu is committed to helping you increase your book's sales and we hope you enjoy the benefits of listing your book on
Kind regards,



Over on Snowbooks Blog, Emma Barnes says;

"...throughout the day I have received no fewer than five emails from excited authors who write to tell me that their self published book, which they have currently got on submission to us, has been selected by Amazon."

Over on LLBookreview, Shannon Yarbrough goes at little more to the heart of what Lulu's reasoning is...

"Now, I have a few problems with this email. First, they don’t even tell me which of my three books was chosen for Marketplace. Second, they don’t even tell you what Marketplace is or how it works or what its advantages are. Third, their going to mark the book up 30% but still only give me my same commission.

My only guess about Lulu joining in this venture is that it is a sure fire way for them to go around the Booksurge umbrella Amazon put over them last year. They stand to make better money doing it because Marketplace stock is printed from Lulu’s suppliers which means no Booksurge printing and shipping fees for Lulu."

Amazon Marketplace is Amazon's fixed-price online marketplace allowing sellers to offer their goods alongside Amazon's own stock listings. New and used items can be bought directly from a third party through Amazon using the sellers store hosted on Amazon Marketplace.

This Marketplace program has been very profitable for Amazon and they charge a commission based on the sale price, a transaction fee, and a variable closing fee.

Users can also leave feedback on transactions using a rating system. Any feedback less than four stars will negatively affect the seller's rating.

The email sent by Lulu is clearly misleading and somehow suggests to an author that their Lulu books have been selected on merit of content or sales numbers. The reality is that Lulu are attempting to optomise their own business interests and it marks another movement by Lulu in the wrong direction when it comes to their paying authors.
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It's Your Choice!


  1. Mick,
    You make some very valid points. The messaging should have been clearer. That said, it is Lulu's sole intention to make our authors more successful. This mission is what gets us up in the morning and it is with that in mind that we launched the Amazon marketplace service. We want to make it as easy as possible for our authors to get listed on Amazon and sell more copies of their books.

    However, this program is a pilot and we are learning how to design the service to best benefit our authors. We obviously need to improve our messaging and be clearer about what the program entails. We very much appreciate everyone's feedback and will be incorporating it moving forward. If you have any more questions or suggestions, then please let us know.

    Nick Popio
    Lulu Employee

  2. Whatever - Lulu does this time and again. Unveils some new program and then apologizes about how it was received - whether it's, the size of books needing to be changed, the price of books suddenly going up without warning, so everyone's marketing materials were moot.

    Re: the price of the book changing - they apologized profusely to their U.K. customers and said they would never do it again. They turned around and did the exact same thing to American customers. It really seems as if Lulu does not care about retaining savvy publishes, just newbies who don't know the difference. Message to Lulu: that is not a sustainable business model.

  3. Nick,

    Thanks for commenting on this. I think it is important readers also see this issue from the perspective of Lulu as well.

    While Lulu's intentions may have been admirable in offering authors the opportunity to utilise Lulu's Amazon Marketplace program, clearly you leapt from the starter blocks at little before the starting gun went off. As you make clear it is a pilot program and bugs and concerns may arise, but it would have helped to identify these before author 'email-outs' were duly despatched.

    There is however the matter of Lulu books in the Amazon Marketplace being sold with a 30% mark up - opening the avenue to authors themselves buying their own discounted books from Lulu and then listing these copies on Marketplace themselves, but a an undercut price on Lulu's own Marketplace listing.

    I do appreciate this may also be a part of Lulu's necessary effort to circumvent Amazon's imposed printer choice of Booksurge which was introduced last year.


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