Poor print quality on images in my recent printed books

I use a lot of images in my magazine projects, which I print as perfect bound paperbacks with B/W interiors. I have used lulu for many years...usually lulu do a decent job of printing these images, with sharp definition and solid blacks.


For my recent book, I was very disappointed to receive proof copies where many of the pictures had a visible streaking effect, vertical lines on the image. The blacks were also noticeably less dark, and there was less definition.


I realised I had selected the “Value” option, which I hadn’t intended to do. I read elsewhere on a Lulu forum that the Value books are printed by a different technology, I think using inkjet instead of laser printers, and that this option wasn’t great for books with images.


So I remade the whole book, reformatted the PDF interior, submitted it as a new project. I ordered another proof, and made sure to select “Premium Paperback” this time, which is slightly more expensive, in the hopes that it would resolve the print quality issue.


I received the proof copy of this Premium Paperback version yesterday. No improvement on the first proof I had received – exactly the same issue with the vertical line streaking and poor quality blacks on the images.


Is the lulu printer is causing the streaking? Or is there something wrong with my image files? I always use high resolution 300dpi TIFF files, yet they still streak. And why is there no visible difference between the print quality of a Value and Premium paperback, even though one of them costs more?


I’d like to know if anyone else is having this issue, and what can be done to resolve it. All I want is sharp images, good blacks and no vertical lines – which Lulu used to be able to provide, and now apparently they cannot.


If it matters, I’m based in the UK and my books are A4 size.


  • wildwindwildwind Publisher

    The best thing to do is contact Lulu support. If there is an issue with the printer,

    who is subcontracted, then Lulu meeds to know about it.

  • I've had exactly the same problem with the same value paper. Ordered two proof copies (one to give to someone writing an introduction to my photographic essay on Hull bands!).

    The images show the same issues, plus they were too dark.

    Did lulu.com resolve the issue, and if so, how?
  • No, the issue still isn’t resolved for me. But I did raise it with lulu support, who to be fair are being very helpful.


    There are two problems here. The first problem is that the “Value” option turns out to use inket printing, which quite simply is not suitable for printing images. The “Premium” option uses laser printing, which is good for printing images. In my view, the consequences of selecting “Value” are not made as clear as they could be at the point of ordering.


    The second problem for me is that having remade the project and selected “Premium”, I’m still getting inket printing in return, instead of the expected laser quality. This has happened to me twice now. The problem is apparently being caused by the outsourced printers, presumably based in the UK, who evidently don’t quite understand what’s required. It’s being described to me as a "workflow issue".


    I’ve sent scans of my proof copies to Lulu support, who identified the problem very clearly and are trying to put this right. To their credit, I’m not being charged for these duff proof copies, but it’s not a money thing – all I want is quality printing, and having requested it, I don’t understand why it can’t be supplied.


    The person managing my ticket has said he will escalate this to the print manager, so I’m hopeful this will be properly solved soon.


    By the way I did not mark this Forum topic as “solved”, and I don’t know who did.

  • Thank you, this explains a lot having had the same issue with my B&W photos being too dark. The first batch  for photo section were lighter but the next two lots quite the reverse plus the cover was darker too. It is so disappointing. Two earlier books published by Lulu were satisfactory, drawings just the right tone.

    I'm thinking twice now before going ahead with a revision project. Perhaps before I do I will get in touch with them about this issue. I'm based in UK too so if you have been in touch about the problem perhaps it's resolved now. As you say it's not so much the money but the quality one wants, which Lulu is known and recommended for. 

    Lulu are helpful I hope you get your issue sorted soon. 
  • Best thing to do is take photos of the images in question and send them to support. I had a cover that didn't print right, the colors came out wrong. But support explained why and sent me a free proof to compare. They usually are very good at solving problems.
  • PapaTomPapaTom Reader
    edited January 2018
    I, too, had the same problem with my first LULU book, and it cost me a lot of embarrassment.  Readers complained that both the images and the text were more "sepia" toned than black, and they were all very pale.  Fortunately, I caught it early enough to stop promoting the book until Lulu could straighten it out, but I did end up refunding money to several people.  It took three different LULU representatives to finally acknowledge the problem and suggest that I try upgrading from "Standard" to "Premium" Paperback.  They then sent me a sample copy, free of charge, and it was noticeably better,

    I have just sent my second book off to LULU this time as a Premium Paperback) to give it another shot.  Hopefully, I haven't been a sucker.  How did your problem work out?
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