Serious quality control problems; not working to resolve them.

I run a small publishing company that has all of its printing handled by Lulu.com.  When I started with them two years ago, they were incredible, and easily the best POD printer in the business.

Over the last six months, their quality control during printing (covers specificially) has been terrible.  Now, we have to go through every single order and pull out the books that they have mis-printed so badly that they are unsellable.  We are currently experiencing shipments with 75% to 100% totally unsellable books in each shipment.  I find that unacceptable, but they don't seem to be taking any steps to fix their issues.

They have been good about replacing all mis-printed books, but they insist that (a) they don't have time to review each printing for quality control [which means I have to do it for them], (b) that I supply photographic evidence via tech support that the books are being mis-printed.  This delays my orders, makes me fearful to allow customers to order directly from them, and is killing my business.

Is anyone having issues with this level of poor quality?

Comments

  • It does appear that there are some trim issues with both of these books.

    Are the covers created with sufficient bleed? we recommend using a .25 inch bleed for cover art. This article may help you make the required adjustments: How do I make my content stretch to the edge of the page?

    Also, I noticed on one of the covers that the title is much to close to the top of the book cover and was partially  trimmed off. We recommend that any important features, such as the book title and author name, be placed at least 1/2 inch from the edge fo the book cover.

    As you may know, we partner with printers around the world who print and ship our books. We are always working with these printers to improve their processes, so we appreciate your feedback.

    I believe our social media manager has requested additional information about this same issue you reported on our FB page. I recommend you continue to communicate with her through that channel.

     

  • Well, we believe our covers are created to Lulu specifications, but we are open to the possibility that they are not.

    The problem is, we submit one cover to the service, and order XX number of books.  When the order comes in 1/2 the books (covers) are printed fine and the other 1/2 are un-sellable.  We don't understand how that lack of consistency can be caused by our formatting of the book cover.  It seems to me that if our cover design is bad, it should print incorrectly on every book, not a random subset.

  • There are always slight deviations in the trimming process. Hence the need to include a bleed on the cover dimensions. However, if you are doing that and still having print problems, we definitely need to review your files and contact the printer.

    As I stated earlier, we are always working to improve our processes and print quality. Your input is the best way for us to do that.

  • Here is a suggestion:

    -LULU could allow direct contact between the printer and the client.

    As customers, we are not interested in the terms of the arrangements between LULU and the printers. We actually support the business model based on an economy of scale. I recognize that none of us individually would be able to negotiate the same terms with large printing houses as LULU does. 

    As LULU customers, our interest is in the quality and timely delivery of the books printed. This could be increased by direct contact between the printer and the customer. Quick, standarized, last minute checks would solve a lot of the printing problems I read about.  Since LULU does not print the books, then, open an alternate path where the other two stakeholders in the process -the customers and the printers- can communicate.

    I am certain that LULU can develop a solution, just the way it did when it became a leader in the self-publising sector.

    Does it make sense?

     

    Eric

  • We submit our artwork to the specs that Lulu tells us to after the body of the book is uploaded.  I would assume Lulu includes the bleed area in those specs.

    If we are not submitting the proper file specs, we're happy to correct them.

  • So you recommend 1/4" bleed area AND 1/2" trim area "just in case" of a bad print? That's asking a bit much, don't you think? A good printer should be able to work within a 1/4" trim area with reasonable room for variances.
  • "I believe our social media manager has requested additional information about this same issue you reported on our FB page. I recommend you continue to communicate with her through that channel."

    Fine.  In the meantime, one of my authors is losing out on a Barnes and Noble book signing opportunity as we trade electronic messages back and forth.  I'd prefer to speak with a human being who has the ability to resolve the issue today.

  • Ouch!

    As a human being, that sort of hurts my feelings. Particularly since I have already spoken to our print team manager on your behalf and forwarded your contact information.

     

  • Sorry, Glenn. Nothing personal, I should have said "I would like to speak to a human being on the telephone". No hard feelings?

    Meanwhile, I appreciate your efforts, but our day is almost over and I have not heard from your print team manager.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    mylegacyonrecor wrote:

    Here is a suggestion:

    -LULU could allow direct contact between the printer and the client.

    As customers, we are not interested in the terms of the arrangements between LULU and the printers. We actually support the business model based on an economy of scale. I recognize that none of us individually would be able to negotiate the same terms with large printing houses as LULU does. 

    As LULU customers, our interest is in the quality and timely delivery of the books printed. This could be increased by direct contact between the printer and the customer. Quick, standarized, last minute checks would solve a lot of the printing problems I read about.  Since LULU does not print the books, then, open an alternate path where the other two stakeholders in the process -the customers and the printers- can communicate.

    I am certain that LULU can develop a solution, just the way it did when it became a leader in the self-publising sector.

    Does it make sense?

     

    Eric


    I don't see how that can help, especially when it's Lulu that are the printers' client, and not us.

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    We submit our artwork to the specs that Lulu tells us to after the body of the book is uploaded.  I would assume Lulu includes the bleed area in those specs.

    If we are not submitting the proper file specs, we're happy to correct them.

    If Lulu have such file specs, I don't recall seeing them. Granted there are measurements suggested for one-piece covers and dustjackets, but I don't recall them for how to design your image/s to allow for trimming.

    I have learned from my own experience using Lulu that the trimming can be a bit random (it can apply to the pages also) and it's not just common to POD books, but also mass-produced books.

    If you look at my own covers via my link below you will see that I stay well away from the cover edges with any important image, and definitely with the text. (I have also learned they need to be slightly offset to the right also to be central, I allow for that via the borders). The images I upload for back and front do actually cover the entire front and back being the same size as the books' pages, but the images include a border, which as Glenn says, I then match the spine colour to.

    All I now have to worry about is the print quality, and it's often far better than mass-produced books.

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • Still no contact from a human being whom I can speak with, and who has the authority to resolve the issue.

  • I spoke with our print manager this morning. He indicated that he had multiple correspondences with you and has set up a time to speak with you directly.

  • We have heard from Leon and will be speaking with him shortly.  Thank you Lulu support team, and I hope I am able assist you in fixing any long term problems.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Sorry, I thought I was a human.

    If you only want help from Staff then only use the Help link, but it seems you have, and many times.

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • Hi,

          I was so relieved to read your comment. I agree completely with you. I began in 2010 and had so many printing and awful binding problems and suggested the exact same idea that you state here. It would be more efficient for everyone. I live in an area where there are so many industrial printer companies... Why can't they just try this. I am revising a children's book and really hope it will not be a headache again. You have to have a good understanding of color to try and outsmart some of what their various printers will turn out. Then there is the issue of RGB or CMYK submission....it is perplexing... If we as customers could just see proofs from a local printer that would be willing to be a partner with LULU there would be less headaches....and more profit. Thanks for your comment...

    Monica

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    This is an old thread, but few printing companies own machines that can create a book as one process.

     

    This oft mention of RGB or CMYK puzzles me because one-pass digital printers do not care if an image is RGB or CMYK, they do not make individual printing plates, they use PDFs in the same manner your own home printer can.

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

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