Lulu vs. Amazon?

swmirskyswmirsky Publisher
edited July 2018 in General Discussions
Why would people come to Lulu to buy books when amazon.com is the go-to online place for book buying these days and has been for decades? What can Lulu do to compete as an online bookseller? What can Lulu offer that amazon can't or doesn't? And why should we focus our efforts on selling on the Lulu site (even recognizing a better royalty is available since what good are higher royalties if people don't actually come looking for a book to by here unless they are family and friends and want to do us a favor)?    

Comments

  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher
    edited July 2018
    Oops, that should have been "a book to buy"! I guess I better proof before posting from here on!
     
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Why would people come to Lulu to buy books when amazon.com is the go-to online place for book buying these days and has been for decades?

    A good many users of Lulu use links around the net to point people towards their Lulu content. Not everyone uses ISBNs, because some projects here cannot have them. Some also publish PDFs, and they also cannot have an ISBN.

     What can Lulu do to compete as an online bookseller?

    Actually, they don't even try. They are a Self-publishing site and advertised as such. The Storefronts are just an added bonus for those who wish to use just those.

     What can Lulu offer that amazon can't or doesn't?

    Well, at first, Lulu was one of the first self-publishing sites, and perhaps the only free one too, with free ISBNs. Amazon self-publishing came along later, and ISBNs are not a default option there.

     And why should we focus our efforts on selling on the Lulu site

    Who says you have to do? Lulu provide free ISBNs, that will get you listed at not just many well-known name book sites, but also 100s of lesser known ones.

     (even recognizing a better royalty is available since what good are higher royalties if people don't actually come looking for a book to by here unless they are family and friends and want to do us a favor)?

    Some people use Lulu to publish books that are only available to family members. As far as I know, Lulu is the only self-publishing site to have the option of who can access peoples' Storefronts.

    You don't seem to know how it all works, so what exactly is your point? 

  • I've sold very few books on Lulu.com. Only after getting the free ISBN and Global Distribution, did I actually start selling books. That's because that gave me much more exposure as Kevin said by getting listed on 100's of more websites. These sites are all over the world. My main sales come from Amazon, I tunes, and I nook. With some off Scribd. We do get less profit this way but hopefully many more sales which can add up. Better than getting one or two sales on this site with a bigger profit. Lulu does offer as Kevin said links that can be listed privately for whatever purpose. Overall I think Lulu does give us much more opportunity to sell books. If you wish to get people to come here to buy your book, perhaps start a youtube channel and show off your books. Leave a link to your books there on Youtube below your video. I've seen some authors do what's called unboxing. They send after a proof copy then open it on video and show off the cover and inside. Maybe discuss what the book is about and see if they can get more traffic to their storefront here.
  • oncewasoncewas Librarian

    With regards to ebooks I would say that less than 20 % of my sales come from distribution through Lulu and a fraction of 1 % comes from the Lulu bookstore itself. I don't bother to distribute print books as I can't get the royalty I want at a price that I feel is reasonable so I go straight to the lion's den with those. I've sold a few thousand print books and I know there are some who will say that I could sell a lot more as distribution places your books in hundreds of bookstores, but I am not convinced. If there is someone here selling hundreds, or thousands, of books a year through distribution it would be lovely if they came along and said so.





  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher
    Thanks for all the answers. Actually I'm not a newbie though at least some of the responses above seem to have taken me for one.

    I published my first POD book in 1998 through Xlibris and sold over a thousand copies, mostly through amazon.com but not exclusively (many sold in bookstores and some on the old BN.com and Borders websites and some overseas). Since then I have edited and packaged two other books for other people and written another of my own (but under contract for the person whose story it was). We used a number of options on those projects, including Lulu, which I discovered in the early 2000s.

    Amazon has clearly grown into the big gorilla in this room though and has usurped Lulu's place as the premier do-it-yourself POD provider via its acquisition of Booksurge (previously GreatUnPublished.com) and Digitz (once an independent competitor of Lightning Source). Just as AuthorHouse rolled up iUniverse and Xlibris and several smaller supported POD services, Amazon has pursued the do-it-yourself link aggressively. So now I have come back to Lulu, thinking to see if the new Lulu is a viable competitor for amazon at this stage. That was the point of my questions above.

    At this juncture I am thinking of doing my latest through both Lulu and Amazon to see which one provides a better avenue for selling the book. But, as I hope I've made clear, I would very much like to see Lulu become a viable competitor with Amazon, if only because monopolies can be a bad thing for customers (which we all ultimately are) and Amazon seems to have embarked on that road.

    Again thanks for the responses and the advice. 
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Thanks for all the answers. Actually I'm not a newbie though at least some of the responses above seem to have taken me for one.

    You appear to be new to Lulu, registered on the 30th. I don't believe you actually publish on Lulu.

    I published my first POD book in 1998 through Xlibris

    I was not aware POD existed or 'instant' book machines in 1998. Xlibris still exist, and are not at all free. Their cheapest option is $899. Which option did you use?

     and sold over a thousand copies, mostly through amazon.com but not exclusively (many sold in bookstores and some on the old BN.com and Borders websites and some overseas).

    What was the book about?

     Since then I have edited and packaged two other books for other people and written another of my own (but under contract for the person whose story it was). We used a number of options on those projects, including Lulu, which I discovered in the early 2000s.

    So you do know how Lulu functions, so what was the original post about?

    Amazon has clearly grown into the big gorilla in this room though

    What room? You do realise you are in Lulu's forum?

     and has usurped Lulu's place as the premier do-it-yourself POD provider via its acquisition of Booksurge (previously GreatUnPublished.com) and Digitz (once an independent competitor of Lightning Source).

    Who says so? It is a matter of choice. I use both.

     Just as AuthorHouse rolled up iUniverse and Xlibris and several smaller supported POD services, Amazon has pursued the do-it-yourself link aggressively. So now I have come back to Lulu, thinking to see if the new Lulu is a viable competitor for amazon at this stage. That was the point of my questions above.

    I use Lulu for POD and for ePub, and Amazon for Kindle books. That's my choice. Are you an agent for Amazon or what?

    At this juncture I am thinking of doing my latest through both Lulu and Amazon to see which one provides a better avenue for selling the book.

    It possibly cheaper to create via Createspace for Amazon, because there's no middleman between them, but I like Lulu's Project Wizards, and the instant free ISBN options that gets me on far more than just Amazon.

     But, as I hope I've made clear, I would very much like to see Lulu become a viable competitor with Amazon, if only because monopolies can be a bad thing for customers (which we all ultimately are) and Amazon seems to have embarked on that road.

    Amazon do not have  a monopoly, there are 100s of other self-publishing sites, and monopolies are illegal, anyway.

    Again thanks for the responses and the advice. 

  • wildwindwildwind Publisher
    Kevin, you cannot make statements such as I don't believe you actually publish on Lulu.
     swmirsky stated that he or she discovered Lulu in the early 2000s and has used Lulu for a number of projects. How can you refute what someone has told you without any evidence? You really should take some time to digest what you read before firing off a reply.
  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher
    edited August 2018
    Just Kevin writes: "You appear to be new to Lulu, registered on the 30th. I don't believe you actually publish on Lulu."


    I am not new to Lulu. I discovered and used Lulu before it was set up as it now is and before Amazon developed CreateSpace from the acquisitions I described above (of GreatUnPublished.com which became BookSurge and of Digitz printing). But I don't have to prove anything to you. You are welcome to think whatever you like.

    I wrote: "I published my first POD book in 1998 through Xlibris" to which Kevin replied: "I was not aware POD existed or 'instant' book machines in 1998. Xlibris still exist, and are not at all free. Their cheapest option is $899. Which option did you use?"

    You are simply wrong then. I have been at this since 1998. In those days Xlibris offered two options. I chose, the higher, Level II which cost me all of $730. I recall vividly because my wife and I argued about it since she felt I was wasting my money on a vanity project. In the event, I more than earned it back in royalties (about $3200 from 1999 to 2001).  

    I wrote: "and sold over a thousand copies, mostly through amazon.com but not exclusively (many sold in bookstores and some on the old BN.com and Borders websites and some overseas)."

    Kevin asked: "What was the book about?"

    It was an historical novel set in eleventh North America about Vikings and Indians in the New World. I wrote it between 1994 and 1996 and self-published it in 1998 after a series of near acceptances from commercial publishers and agents which led nowhere.

    It can be viewed today still on Amazon.com under the title of The King of Vinland's Saga. It had a great sales run from about 1999 until about 2001 or 2002, assisted by my very active promotion of the book online. It sold slightly more than 1300 copies in all (mostly on amazon but also through the other venues I mentioned). Until about 2001 it was getting great reviews from readers and even those which only gave it three stars spoke positively of it. Then around that time I began picking up some negative reviews (the first one just said "this book sucks" and was removed by amazon after I complained -- but eventually I began getting more negative reviews, many of which seemed to me -- based on the things being said -- to be by people who fancy themselves modern day vikings, either from the re-enactor community or from modern day Odin worshipers; I think their expectations for a "viking" novel were different than what my book delivered which was more a pastiche Icelandic saga qua novelization than a blood and guts tale of vikings and their raids).

    As more and more viking books began coming out, I realized mine was no longer that unique (when I wrote it there was barely a handful of historical novels about vikings around) and I stopped actively promoting it. Meanwhile, the negative reviews, being more recent, displaced the positive ones I had been getting since the book came out and sales fell to almost nothing. But by then I had moved on to other projects and ceased actively promoting it.

    But The King of Vinland's saga can still be seen on amazon though its sales rank these days is pretty dismal (back in its heyday I'd check the page multiple times a day and get a rush from the sales rank figures which regularly fell into the low hundreds and sometimes even double digits, a testimony I guess to my promotional efforts and to the positive reviews the book used to prompt from readers).
            
    I wrote: "Since then I have edited and packaged two other books for other people and written another of my own* (but under contract for the person whose story it was). We used a number of options on those projects, including Lulu, which I discovered in the early 2000s."

    Kevin replied: "So you do know how Lulu functions, so what was the original post about?"

    To raise the issue that Lulu was not an optimal book selling site but that maybe it could become one.

    I wrote: "Amazon has clearly grown into the big gorilla in this room though"

    Kevin replied: "What room? You do realise you are in Lulu's forum?"

    Err, yeah. What kind of question is that? I was using a metaphor to refer to the world of bookselling, not to this forum.

    I wrote, referring to amazon: "[it] has usurped Lulu's place as the premier do-it-yourself POD provider via its acquisition of Booksurge (previously GreatUnPublished.com) and Digitz (once an independent competitor of Lightning Source)."

    Kevin writes: "Who says so? It is a matter of choice. I use both."

    Irrelevant. I wasn't addressing whether Lulu or amazon should be used exclusively.

    Kevin wrote: " I use Lulu for POD and for ePub, and Amazon for Kindle books. That's my choice. Are you an agent for Amazon or what?"

    Do you have a chip on your shoulder or what?

    Kevin wrote: "It possibly cheaper to create via Createspace for Amazon, because there's no middleman between them, but I like Lulu's Project Wizards, and the instant free ISBN options that gets me on far more than just Amazon."

    It costs nothing to the author to publish either on Lulu or Amazon except for the price of hardcopy proofs. Both websites are a little difficult to navigate but I think Lulu is marginally easier (perhaps because I am more experienced in its use). But Lulu books are more costly for readers to buy than CreateSpace books are. And Lulu's website has a lot of glitches I have not experienced when using CreateSpace. 

    I wrote: "But, as I hope I've made clear, I would very much like to see Lulu become a viable competitor with Amazon, if only because monopolies can be a bad thing for customers (which we all ultimately are) and Amazon seems to have embarked on that road."

    Kevin replied: "Amazon do not have  a monopoly, there are 100s of other self-publishing sites, and monopolies are illegal, anyway."

    You miss my point and not for the first time here. I was speaking of being the big gorilla in online book sales and now in do-it-yourself self-publishing. It's perfectly true that there are lots of POD companies around, though fewer now than in the early days of POD because many, like Xlibris and the one time big gorilla, iUniverse (which got its start as a company called ToExcel), have been absorbed by conglomerates like AuthorHouse (Xlibris is now an imprint of AuthorHouse though I don't know about the others it scooped up). But as far as I know there are only two do-it-yourself companies, Lulu and Amazon's CreateSpace. If you know of others it would be interesting information. And no, I am not an agent of anyone but myself, thanks.
    _________________________________________________________ 
     

    * Actually two others now that I think about it.

  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher
    FYI, here's the amazon site for my first book, The King of Vinland's Saga, published in 1998 via the then independent Xlibris. (Once I discovered Lulu, of course, Xlibris' more costly approach, with prices rising significantly, no longer seemed attractive to me):

    https://www.amazon.com/King-Vinlands-Saga-Stuart-Mirsky/dp/0738801526/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=
  • Paul_LuluPaul_Lulu Admin
    edited August 2018
    Let's refrain from debating Lulu's business model. This is a forum for writers.

    If you'd like to discuss what publishing routes have worked for you and why, that's fine. But needlessly comparing companies with two very different models is only going to stir up unnecessary conflict.

    Feel free to review the Forum Rules, in particular item 11.
  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher
    Okay, no further comparisons then.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Kevin, you cannot make statements such as I don't believe you actually publish on Lulu.

    I can and do. It's the way I reply.


     swmirsky stated that he or she discovered Lulu in the early 2000s and has used Lulu for a number of projects. How can you refute what someone has told you without any evidence? You really should take some time to digest what you read before firing off a reply.

    Because I read each line at a time and reply to each line at a time. You really should take some time to digest my entire reply ...
  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher
    edited August 2018
    Hmmm, looks like I must have clicked on the wrong button while editing and inadvertently removed the lengthy comment I had written here in response to Kevin. Ah well, no point trying to reconstruct it. Maybe it's just as well gone.
  • Because I read each line at a time and reply to each line at a time. You really should take some time to digest my entire reply ...
    *coughcough* Why does this thread seem covered in a reddish oxide dust? It's far too iron-y in here... :^D
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    swmirsky, it should be in your forum draft folder.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Because I read each line at a time and reply to each line at a time. You really should take some time to digest my entire reply ...
    *coughcough* Why does this thread seem covered in a reddish oxide dust? It's far too iron-y in here... :^D

    I am sure you said that before, and it still makes no sense.

  • Really? Stating in one sentence that you do a certain action, and then stating in the next that others should do the opposite -- that does not make you think of ferrous metals?
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Really? Stating in one sentence that you do a certain action, and then stating in the next that others should do the opposite -- that does not make you think of ferrous metals?

    I think you need to read my posts "out loud." I said no such thing.

  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher
    I think Just Kevin may have missed the allusion to irony.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    No, I now understand what he was getting at. But I do read everything, even if I do not reply to everything. I don't snip bits out to have a moan at, especially just a first paragraph, ignoring the rest, as Wildwind did, where what I asked has been answered, and also replied to by myself. So where's the irony on my part? I would aim the accusation back at you two :) Wildwind is a forum sniper anyway.

    No I don't read every single word, before I reply. My memory is not that good! I treat it like a 'live' conversation. So I copy, paste, read and reply as I read. Doesn't everyone? Perhaps they should.

  • swmirsky said:
    I think Just Kevin may have missed the allusion to irony.


    I'm glad that someone got the point. :^)
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    I'm glad that someone got the point. :^)

    So you don't bother reading the replies to your little digs? You can be like a dog with a bone.

  • RoyRRoyR Writer
    Well, thanks guys for ruining my first time on this forum. Needles childish bickering which continued even after the admin requested you stop.   Even Facebook has a hard time competing with this nonsense. 
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Well, you could look at more recent postings, and a lot more of them.  :)
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    BTW. Keep needles away from children.
  • Okay, can we just agree that the next time a thread starts "Lulu vs. Amazon" it needs to include the phrase "Steel Cage Death Match?"
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