Pricing & Shipping Question

lgrizzaffi81lgrizzaffi81 Reader
edited May 23 in General Discussions
Hello Everyone,

     I am first time author and my questions are in regards to the pricing structure and shipping time for the books through Lulu.  The ideal price that I had wanted to set for my children's book was $10.00-$12.00 as I do not see anyone paying more than that.   When I went to the retail calculator, I noticed that I have to set my price above $15.00 to make a profit through Lulu.  But if I set it at $15.00, I would make $0 at Amazon.  If I want to make any money at Amazon, I would need to increase the sale price to $17.99 which I think is really high when you consider adding tax and shipping costs on top of that.  Am I doing something incorrectly?  I just don't see anyone purchasing it at such a high cost when most books in my genre are selling at $8-$9.00.  Its great that Lulu provides the largest amount of royalties to any self publisher, but I would think with my book being priced so high it would make it a lot harder to sell, especially for a children's book. 

    Another thing I saw online was that purchasing print copies of my book through Lulu would be around $8.00 vs $3.45 through KDP, which is a huge difference.  Why is it so much higher on Lulu for self publishers?  The reason I ask is because I would like to purchase 100 copies of my book to sale at book signings and book fairs, but through Lulu it would be around $1,000 vs KDP at $345.  Would love to know what other people think about this?   

   I had also read somewhere that your book does not need to have an ISBN if it stays on the Lulu bookstore, which would help drop the cost.  How do you do that and how much would it actually drop?  I would like family and friends to purchase through Lulu and not pay the higher cost of retail but than I still want to select global distribution which I know requires an ISBN.  Can you do both?  Is it better to get the free ISBN that Lulu provides or purchase one?

     Lastly, when someone purchases a book through Lulu, does it really take 3 weeks to get their copy.  I would think most people would prefer to purchase directly through Amazon because they could get it much faster through Prime, but I am not sure.  I am really thinking of the customer on this and how much they would pay and wait for a book.  I love Lulu and would prefer to go with them, but these are just my questions and I am wondering what other people here have done and have heard.

    Thank you very much everyone for your help in advance, I greatly appreciate it. 


  • A_A_CainA_A_Cain Oz Author
    You don't provide enough information on your book (size, page numbers, colour interior etc) for people to really comment; but the retail price calculator factors in the print cost, your margin, and Lulu's margin. It also shows an indicative second party retailer margin.

    I'm guessing your book is illustrated in colour? That's more costly to print.

    How did you get the comparative KDP price - are you comparing exactly the same product? That's a huge difference, and my guess is print costs will be similar for an identical product. Also, keep in mind that Amazon and the distributors take a much bigger price gouge than Lulu does - don't expect to make much per book through those print channels.

    The ISBN doesn't affect the cost - Lulu provide it ISBN free, or you can buy your own. But without one, you can't get global distribution, only the Lulu shopfront.

    Maybe you should check out Lulu Xpress, which is a print service. I believe that service might give you better bulk print costs - the channels you are looking at are retail distribution arrangements, which aren't the same thing as volume print.

    Print time will depend on the volume of work through the printer, and that could depend on where it is.  I'm in Australia, for example, and submitted two paperbacks on Monday morning; they were in the post Tuesday afternoon (but need to go interstate, so that's an extra day or three).

    Others will add more comments, I'm sure.

  • oncewasoncewas Librarian
    I think that you will struggle to sell 100 copies of your book directly to customers, unless you already know that you can. What I am saying is that, if you already have a clear indication that you will be able to do this, go ahead; if you are a new author and just thought 100 copies would be a nice number to buy to sell to potential clients...mmm, I foresee a problem. Selling books is like pulling hen's teeth. It is the hardest thing you are ever likely to do.

    Unfortunately, you cannot make a decent profit, and charge a decent price, with print books sold through distribution. The distributor takes 50 % of the print price and the manufacturing cost has to come out of what remains. As you have already wisely seen, in some scenarios you come away with nothing. I don't think I would be prepared to pay more than $ 6.99 for a print book by an unknown self-published author when there are so many available at this price point.

    Your best bet is to sell your books through Lulu. Unfortunately, that means a much lower exposure to book buyers. You lose out on the potential serendipity factor - people who just happen to discover your book while on an online book store - because not that many people use the Lulu bookstore. If you were able to drive customers directly to your Lulu bookstores you would make the most profit. If you publish a print book, and make it available for distribution, it will also be available in the Lulu bookstore, and you will get the higher cut. However, unless you are able to drive loads of traffic to your Lulu bookstore you will not see much in the way of sales.
  • KeevesKeeves Author
    Lulu sees itself as a printer, and they are satisfied by taking a small margin on the printing costs. That's how we can buy them cheap for ourselves, and sell them cheaply even if we make some profit.

    But the Book Distribution World is entirely different. They are the ones who (claim to) get people to buy it, and they typically sell for double the price that they buy at. That rockets the price up to where fewer customers will buy it, and there's no profit left for us.

    Don't misunderstand me. I am not arguing that Amazon et al are cheating or overcharging or doing anything wrong. They are a brand name, and are entitled to charge for it. Everyone heard of Amazon, and that's where they shop. Who heard of Lulu except us?

    Plus, I suspect that Amazon actually prints a few copies so that they can ship them fast. That is an investment on a physical item that takes up real warehouse space, and might never get sold. They're not just entitled to charge for that - they MUST charge higher prices or they'll end up losing money. Compare that to a print-on-demand service that takes no risks.

    (Here's my evidence why I think Amazon prints the books before orders come in: My books from Lulu usually arrive in a week or two. When I got one of my own Lulu books from Amazon (I wanted to see the quality and compare to the Lulu version) they arrived in a couple of days, just like everything else that I get from Amazon.)
  • oncewasoncewas Librarian
    I think it is possible that Amazon might pre print a few of the books that they know will sell but don't as a rule pre print; it is still print on demand. I'm guessing that the faster delivery time is just down to better logistics.In everything in life, there are economies of scale.

  • A_A_CainA_A_Cain Oz Author
    oncewas said:
    I think it is possible that Amazon might pre print a few of the books that they know will sell but don't as a rule pre print; it is still print on demand. I'm guessing that the faster delivery time is just down to better logistics.In everything in life, there are economies of scale.
    I can't see Amazon spending a cent without a firm demand. Based on my experience with Lulu's Australian printer (printed within 24 hours and into the post the next day), my guess is Amazon just have more dedicated printers or first priority arrangements with second party printers, and have a wider geographical coverage. 

    Once a book takes off, sure, they might print higher numbers and stock up, but that would be the exception, I reckon.  Amazon are a behemoth because everyone goes to them, and they have nailed their logistics and supply chain to respond quickly. 
  • KeevesKeeves Author
    Thanks for your comments. I guess Amazon does print themselves. Still, I was amazed a how fast I received them, and with free shipping because I'm with Amazon Prime.

    Add that to my list of reasons why Amazon's priced are so much higher than Lulu's. You get what you pay for.
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