Two big announcements out of Lulu today. The first is that they are retiring CDs, DVDs, brochures, images, and digital files. (I’m assuming they don’t mean ebooks when they say digitial files because of what we’ll be covering next. I believe this refers to the service that would let you sell a file of any type which allowed people to sell software, downloadable music, etc.)
Coupled with this is a somewhat vauge announcement from Bob Young talking about Lulu.com’s plans for the future. Namely, Bob says that their current business model is no longer working and they are looking to reinvent the company.
They promise a move to Open-Publishing and directed users to the new Lulu Developer Portal for more information about what this means.
What it really sounds like is that they are getting out of the self-publishing and POD (print on demand) business and moving more towards being a provider of tools and resources.
As regular readers know, I used to work for Lulu for many years and I have used their services for projects as varied as major book launches to gift books I made for family and friends. Almost all the people who I knew no longer work for the company so I have no insider perspective to offer here other then this: I always stressed when I worked there that the biggest problem with Lulu’s old model was that you could “out grow” Lulu and graduate to other publishing tools that catered to the more advanced user. I always felt they should just add a secondary teir to their service that former newbies could use as a “more advanced, less handholding” option but I’m concerned that they’ve gone completely the opposite way on this. Lulu has always catered to the creator that needs a little more handholding and I fear that this move with alienate them.
Of course, the announcement is so vague, it may really turn out to mean not much of anything so maybe we should just wait and see. But what do you think?