Lulu discontinues over 20 different print-on-demand options. Is your book effected?

“Sources close to print, the method of applying ink to paper in order to convey information to a mass audience, have confirmed that the declining medium passed away early Thursday morning.

The influential means of communication was 1,803.”

-this fantastic Onion article on the death of print

Image representing Lulu as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

As many of you know, I used to work for Lulu.com. I left of my own volition at the very end of 2010 and I’m pretty sure everyone I knew who worked there has also moved on so, while I have no connection to them anymore, they do hold a special place in my heart because I worked there in one capacity or another for 8 years.

I mention this because, whenever eBooks used to come up, it was the company line to always stress that our focus was on the printed product first and that there would always be a need for it, no matter what the landscape of publishing looked like in the future. In my final year with the company, owner Bob Young did an interview where he talked about eBooks and Lulu’s e-offerings but, even then, still pushed the we’ll never get rid of print, it’s the backbone of what we are line of thinking. Lulu does do eBooks but the main focus on the site is still print-on-demand first and foremost.

And here we are in 2013 and Lulu is getting rid of over 20 different print options. There’s no doubt that the rise of eBooks has taken a chunk out of their print-on-demand profits and a change like this is only logical. But what I thought was really interesting was the first line of their post about discontinuing these print options was, “Print books are an ideal way for self-published authors to share their stories with readers.” I read that and I’m like… is that just a really weak attempt at spin or are they really still clutching to print first and foremost over eBooks even now as they’re having to cut back on their print options?

Anyway, you can see the full list of everything they’re discontinuing and when on their official release here. As they say, it’s mostly seldom used trim sizes and binding types but, as POD company after POD company falls, they were one of the few options out there if you did want something a little more unique than the standard sizes and bindings offered everywhere else. Lulu can’t compete with a CreateSpace or LSI on price so if they only offer the same bindings and sizes as everyone else, what is there to set them apart?

Of course, all spin and BS aside, I’ll bet you the real reason they are doing this is because they are changing printers and the new printer can’t handle these trims and bindings.

I know, I know. I don’t work there anymore and I shouldn’t care. But even as an outsider, I can’t help but wonder what their plan is.

But one stand-up thing they are doing is giving users 40% off any print order of these soon to be retired print sizes so you’ll have the chance to do a final big order to have some stock on hand while you scramble for another printer. It’s very classy of them and should go a long way to keep people from feeling like they are in the lurch. They’re also pointing users to the best alternatives for the discontinued types to make the transition as painless as possible.

Here are the emails they sent out on the subject:

Sent 7/20

Print books are an ideal way for self-published authors to share their stories with readers. As part of our continuing efforts to provide Lulu authors with both popular and economical options, we’ve recently evaluated the book sizes, binding options and paper selections we provide. With your preferences informing our decisions, we’re changing the line-up of print book formats we offer. We’re focusing on those print book formats that you use and people buy most often, and we’re discontinuing the ones that are least frequently used and purchased. This way, we can continue to offer the best possible range of options, providing you with the quality and flexibility you love, and still provide you with very competitive pricing.

As a result of our assessment, several print packages will be discontinued on August 20, 2013.
To ensure an easy and smooth author experience, please view this list of the discontinued print packages and some recommended alternative formats for those books being discontinued.

Discontinuation of these print packages will occur in multiple phases:

  •  Phase 1 – July 23, 2013
    •  The print book options listed above will be removed from the project creation wizards, meaning that authors can no longer select these options when creating a new project or revising an existing project.
    •  All existing projects created using these options will be identified in your Project list with a reminder that the book format will soon be discontinued.
    •  Authors may choose to revise and republish their project using a comparable book size and format.
    •  Authors may choose to make a bulk purchase of their affected projects to cover their immediate needs.
    • Projects created in the above listed formats will continue to be available for purchase in the Lulu Marketplace.
  • Phase 2 – August 20, 2013
    • All projects created in the discontinued formats will be permanently retired and removed from the Lulu Marketplace.
    • Retired projects will be visible in your My Projects > Retired Projects list.
    • Files used to create these retired projects will continue to be available on the My Files page for 12 months, after which time they will be permanently deleted according to the Lulu Membership Agreement: Content Retention Guidelines.

To ensure an easy and smooth author experience, please view this list of the discontinued print packages and some recommended alternative formats for those books being discontinued.

Sent 7/25

You should have received an email recently announcing that, in order to offer better prices and a better selection to customers, we are removing a number of our least frequently used print products.

Your account has one or more projects using one of these print products, and on August 20th, 2013 this content will no longer be available for you or your readers to purchase. We realize this may be an inconvenience, and recommend taking advantage of the two options below for the projects that will be affected.

Option 1: Stock up on printed copies of these projects at a significant discount

We have created a special coupon code for you to use so you can stock up on your creations in these formats.

The code is STOCKMEUP40 and if you use it by August 19th, it will give you 40% off the cost of the project formats listed here

Option 2: Switch the content into a different format for future printing and sales

If you plan to continue selling your book in the future, or would like to be able to order copies on demand after August 20th, you can re-publish your work in one of our other print formats.

The list of formats we are removing and their suggested alternatives is here:

http://connect.lulu.com/t5/Product-Pricing-Information/Binding-options-and-their-page-counts/ta-p/33673

We hope that these options will meet your needs for future use of your work and we look forward to being able to offer better pricing and selection in the future because of these efforts.Sincerely,Your friends at Lulu.com

What do you think? Are you or your books effected by these changes?

Selling online since 1997, Hillary is the author of Beyond Amazon, eBay, and Etsy and The Trading Assistant’s Assistant. She is also a niche blogger, fiction writer and bestselling playwright when you aren’t looking. You can connect with Hillary via social media using any of these links:

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