Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lulu Distribution Shrinking

Lulu authors using Lulu have began to notice their online distributors vanishing away. Once upon a time Lulu books could be released with an ISBN and would gradually show up at most of the online bookstores. Now author report that they are only appearing at Amazon.com (not even Amazon.uk etc).

Staff on the forum and chat lines seem to be saying nothing had changed, but the new books are not getting the same distribution online, and old ones are being listed as out of stock by most distributors. Hopefully answers will be forthcoming, but I am not holding my breath.

Suspicions are arising that the arrangement Lulu made with Amazon had some side effects that are not favorable to their author/customers--such as not listing books with Ingram.

7 comments:

Mojo said...

I was wondering if that might happen once people caught on that even though the book might not say "Lulu," the ISBN belonged to Lulu. So glad we set up our own place; it means we can function independently of that Amazon v Every POD Service In The World mess.

Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

Or it could be that the process has run into some major glitches since they began offering the "published by lulu" for free. Can you imagine the backlog they must have of books where people only grabbed the option because it was free. Books that probably are not set up properly etc. etc.

I have heard some complaints and then also have heard that everything ended fine, it just took a lot longer than it did before the free for all.

Also some of the wording has changed in the Distribution FAQ. It used to specifically list Bowkers and Ingram, now it says the isbn will be listed with "a wholesaler" which in turn will give you access to online retailers.

They also added some additional sizes to the lulu distro package and that may be causing some issues as well.

If the rumor is true, and the distro remains free yet only lists with Amazon ... then an author should consider just going through creatspace and making more money in royalties. No sense giving Lulu a cut if they can't get wider distribution than Amazon.

But I don't generally take stock in forum conversations -- too many variables. My books are listing as out of stock and print because I took them out of print for revisions. I also randomly checked about 20 older pod books I reviewed and know about and they are still listing elsewhere, other than Amazon. So, I guess we wait and see.

cheryl anne gardner said...

I did a little more research, randomly picking one book from the lulu forum who had an issue. The author purchased the free "published by Lulu" service in August. Amazon and B&N are listing the book, but as "out of stock".

What I did notice, is that the author chose one of the new sizes offered under the Lulu package, which is the A5 size. First off, I don't know who is printing this size. LSI doesn't print that size and Amazon's gig doesn't print that size either.

So, I am going to speculate that the new size offerings may be causing the distribution issues. Where is that stock coming from?

I also find it funny that those new sizes are only offered in the "published by Lulu" package and not the "published by you". Hmmmmmm. Interesting. Maybe that's why it's free right now, as they are trying to work out the bugs with the print sizes. Makes sense.

We all want that roughly 5x8 paperback, nice to see Lulu trying to accommodate, but maybe they should have chosen a 5x8 size that LSI can accommodate. Of course, this is all just speculation.

June said...

Are their books still printed by LSI, or by Booksurge - maybe this accounts for the differing sizes? Whatever is happening with the company, it does not seem good - I see that almost one quarter (24) of the staff from their UK office have been made redundant ...

cheryl anne gardner said...

No. The new sizes they are offering the A4 and the Pocketbook are not offered with LSI or Booksurge. This may be where the problem lies.

Makes me wonder who they are using to print these sizes? Not to mention who is making the stock available for the distributors.

Notice that those sizes are not available for the "published by you service." Makes you wonder if the freeby is their version of a lab-rat test, sorry, Beta test, on the new sizes and the distro process. I am not sure the customers should be used in this fashion if that is the case.

A. F. Stewart said...

I took advantage of the free distribution back in July and I also thought the listing delay might be glitches, but now I'm wondering. My book was actually listed for sale briefly at Barnes and Noble, and then a few days later it's back at "out of stock" status.
Also that same book is available for sale at Amazon.com, but it's "unavailable" at Amazon.ca (I'm Canadian so naturally I like it listed in my own country).

And all of this happened just as Lulu.com alters it's Published by Lulu distribution package to mirror Amazon's Createspace. (They're now offering an extended Published by Lulu distribution service for $50)

Is it all a coincidence? I don't think so.

Deutschstunde said...

I am a 2009 published author with Lulu, and on Amazon my book got listed as Out of Print--Limited Availability. Lulu's Expanded distribution service does not show as an option for me, although I followed all specifications. Of course they've recently suspended their online help chat, and when you email them, an automatically created email comes back with a case number. That happens every time you email, so you can accumulate a lot of case numbers without any real contact ever. Does anybody have any advice?