I get a lot of correspondence from authors week to week and one of the most common themes seems to be the amount of authors who are finding better resources outside of Lulu. This includes using author solution services offered by Createspace and Lightning Source as well as working directly with Amazon's own publishing programs.
While I still hold Lulu in high regard as a DIY self-publishing service, the mask does seemed to have slipped a little. What is discouraging in the past few months is the increased shipping costs; changes in trim sizes which have affected some authors cover files and led to them having to go back to Lulu and do a redesign with Lulu's new design Studio; the loss of their live on line Chat Support Help service, and in general, a subtle but distinct move away from DIY publishing (the 'Publish by Lulu' is no longer free as it was for quite a number of months) towards those more rigid orientated publishing packages. You know the ones, you go in looking for a camel and come out of the shop with an elephant, and even Dumbo ends up having a limp!
I was shocked to learn this month when I went to order copies of my own books from Lulu ('Academy' and 'Filigree & Shadow') that they were actually cheaper to order from Amazon in the UK. In fact, much of this comes from the fact that Lulu paperbacks ordered from Amazon UK are printed and shipped far quicker now from Amazon's own print operation.
Here is a scary comparison. I can order a copy of my latest book 'Thais' through Blurb in paperback from Blurb's own printers in the Netherlands, have it shipped to Aquarius Communications Publishing in Dublin, then, re-ship it to Amazon UK for sale and inventory holding, cheaper than if I set up the same title (Published By Lulu or Publish By You') and worked with Lulu using LSI from the UK. In short, I'd be far better using Lulu's site to design the book files, but instead, set the title up with Lightning Source UK.
This is crazy.
Clearly, in recent weeks, Lulu are getting rattled. Here is the latest fire-fighting solutions they make on their blog in relation to international business as well as US business.
(According to Lulu)
We have already rolled out the following solutions, and we will continue to improve our offerings across the world.
Expanded our capabilities in Europe. This should greatly reduce the shipping costs anywhere in Europe.
Extended flat rate pricing in Europe on orders for one, two, and three books.
Introduced flat rate pricing on international mail shipments on orders of one, two and three hardcover books from the US
Additionally, we are implementing the following changes that we hope to make available to you by the end of this summer:
Expand our capabilities in Europe to produce more hardcover trim sizes to lower shipping rates on that product line.
Analyze our pricing for Australian customers, and explore areas we could lower our shipping rates.
Change U.S. and Canada domestic mail and ground shipments to competitive flat rates
Expand our West Coast capabilities to lower shipping rates to West Coast customers.