Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Cherchez le Lulu?
I find myself very curious about how Lulu will respond to Amazon's demands that all POD users employ Booksurge, if they want to keep direct buy buttons. In a way I wonder where I get off. What makes me so up in arms about whatever Lulu ultimately decides to do? Would they care about my opinion? Well of course they wouldn't. But the marketplace is like a democracy. On an individual level one vote really doesn't matter, but on an aggregate level it does.
Just this afternoon a box arrived at my place holding the books shown in the picture. That's about $100 worth of merchandise, in case you are wondering. So I am, emotionally and financially speaking, invested in the Lulu brand. Some of the earliest self-published books I read were from Lulu. They are the only self-publishing provider I shop from directly, and the great majority of books reviewed on this blog are from Lulu.
So I read the only semi-official statement from "Adam" at Lulu: "We would like to assure our users that Lulu continues to have a strong relationship with Amazon.com. As a result, the recent changes Amazon.com has announced should not adversely affect Lulu content listed within Amazon.com in any way." I was less then thrilled.
As a customer of Lulu I associate their brand with quirky, independent books. I feel good about Lulu and the books I buy there. I am willing to overlook their terse, limited customer support and pitiful search bookstore engine. I agree with their authors that Lulu only really does the bare minimum to sell books to customers like me--while focusing mainly on selling their services to more authors. But I am hanging in their optimistically with Lulu as a substantial, honest, low cost provider of self-published books that now has the basis to develop as a kick-ass retailer in their own right. But this optimism is not unconditional or indestructible.
I understand that in order to sell their authors' books via Amazon, Lulu may need to make some concessions. But I think Lulu should understand that there is more to their brand than staying in what looks increasingly like an abusive "relationship" because they have not made an effort to develop other retailing options. Understand who you are talking to here Lulu. Our concerns are not just that Amazon might break up with Lulu, but what Lulu might sacrifice to keep Amazon.