Cover Quality in UK - Problems with curling and warping

This topic has been aired before (several years ago), but nothing came of it apart from a monumentally useless suggestion that you 'gets what you pays for' and if you don't want faulty books go somewhere else.

 

I've published over twenty books on Lulu, so I have a bit of experience. Part of that experience is that almost every order over the last few years (printed in Eastbourne, UK) has been defective in the cover department.

 

The problem is the curling up or warping of the cover, sometimes slightly, usually quite badly, occasionally grotesquely (aspiring to the condition of a Swiss roll). Non-defective orders are rare.  I just laid out a recent order on the table of a cool, dry room, and watched the cover of each book gently pop into the initial curling position, which already looks tatty and will worsen steadily over the next few days. Such books, whatever you do to them, NEVER return to normal. And most people don't want to buy them (who can blame them?), so every order runs at a loss.

 

I have a fairly large personal library of about 3,000 volumes, mainly paperback, and only one (o-n-e) book ever curled up like this, so the problem cannot be regarded as normal. My daughter also worked in a big high street bookshop chain for six months and assures me that such a fault would have meant the return of the whole consignment as defective and unsaleable.

 

It seems to me that the fault has to do with the tensions produced by the laminate. If this is so, surely the machines can be adjusted. I've had subsitute orders placed by Lulu, so the printer knows there's a problem (I'd welcome matt-finish covers actually - much smarter-looking, but that's another story).

 

I've complained to Lulu about this, using the link on the orders page, and, as always, their extremely helpful agents are sympathetic. But the most they seem to be able to do is place a repeat order, which has a pretty good chance of being not much better than the first one. And it's a hassle and a waste of time one shouldn't have in the first place - in the end one just gives up. Receiving an order should be a pleasure, not an occasion for wondering apprehensively what the printers will come up with this time. 

 

What I would really like to see is Lulu changing its UK printer (now acquired by a larger group, I believe, but with no effect on quality) if it doesn't pull its socks up. Personally, I wouldn't mind paying a bit more for a better product.

 

I'm interested to see whether other Lulu authors are having this problem or if it's just a matter of the Great Printer in the Sky not liking me. If a Lulu employee could respond to the suggestion in the previous paragraph, it would be very helpful indeed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    This topic has been aired before (several years ago), but nothing came of it apart from a monumentally useless suggestion that you 'gets what you pays for' and if you don't want faulty books go somewhere else.

     

    I have been using Lulu for many years also, and I don't recall seeing anyone saying that or having reason to. Lulu POD books are normally of a better quality than most mass-produced books. My older Lulu books are still as good as they day they were made. But, many of the mass-produced books I own have in fact curled, but it does depend how they are stored I suspect. The mass-produced ones on top of piles have gone curly, so it's not only POD books it may happen to.

     

    I've published over twenty books on Lulu, so I have a bit of experience. Part of that experience is that almost every order over the last few years (printed in Eastbourne, UK) has been defective in the cover department.

     

    There do seem to have been a few problems recently of the covers actually missing the laminate.

     

    The problem is the curling up or warping of the cover, sometimes slightly, usually quite badly, occasionally grotesquely (aspiring to the condition of a Swiss roll). Non-defective orders are rare.

     

    That just appears to be your 'luck', because no one else has moaned about covers curling, just moaned about some becoming scuffed on the bound edges due to missing laminate.

     

      I just laid out a recent order on the table of a cool, dry room, and watched the cover of each book gently pop into the initial curling position, which already looks tatty and will worsen steadily over the next few days. Such books, whatever you do to them, NEVER return to normal.

     

    And you have tried the same experiment on mass-produced books? I am now looking around my office at piles of mass-produced books and the books on top of those piles are curling up. Only those, because the others simply cannot.

     

    And most people don't want to buy them (who can blame them?), so every order runs at a loss.

     

    Stock them compacted then, and it will not happen. Books jammed in to shelves cannot do that.

     

    I have a fairly large personal library of about 3,000 volumes, mainly paperback, and only one (o-n-e) book ever curled up like this, so the problem cannot be regarded as normal.

     

    Ditto, and it does, and it is. How do they get the chance to unless you have them all laid out flat on a vast surface?

     

    My daughter also worked in a big high street bookshop chain for six months and assures me that such a fault would have meant the return of the whole consignment as defective and unsaleable.

     

    I am sure it would have, but how can they even do that if they are stocked in boxes and sat side by side on shelves?

     

    It seems to me that the fault has to do with the tensions produced by the laminate. If this is so, surely the machines can be adjusted. I've had subsitute orders placed by Lulu, so the printer knows there's a problem (I'd welcome matt-finish covers actually - much smarter-looking, but that's another story).

     

    Lulu will indeed exchange goods if they think there's a problem, but I like shiny. Shiny looks better quality. Highly 'polished'.

     

    I've complained to Lulu about this, using the link on the orders page, and, as always, their extremely helpful agents are sympathetic. But the most they seem to be able to do is place a repeat order, which has a pretty good chance of being not much better than the first one.

     

    Lulu's Print Manager moans at the companies, and it's not unheard of for Lulu to change companies.

     

    And it's a hassle and a waste of time one shouldn't have in the first place - in the end one just gives up. Receiving an order should be a pleasure, not an occasion for wondering apprehensively what the printers will come up with this time. 

     

    Could it be you are over-fussy? You could of course solve it by creating in hardback.

     

    What I would really like to see is Lulu changing its UK printer (now acquired by a larger group, I believe, but with no effect on quality) if it doesn't pull its socks up. Personally, I wouldn't mind paying a bit more for a better product.

     

    You could always suggest to your buyers that they buy from Amazon, (via a Lulu ISBN) who via Createspace print the POD orders themselves. Also, that way, Amazon have to sort out any problems without you even knowing about it.

     

    I'm interested to see whether other Lulu authors are having this problem or if it's just a matter of the Great Printer in the Sky not liking me. If a Lulu employee could respond to the suggestion in the previous paragraph, it would be very helpful indeed.

     

    Well, you will find things like that out by reading the forum   Smiley Happy

  • Thank you for your reply, Mr Lomas.

     

    However, implying that the problem either doesn't exist, or that the kind of curling I've had to put up with again and again is somehow normal, or that my case is unique, or my reaction is 'over-fussy', really isn't very helpful.

     

    I see no purpose in going through your post point by point, but your suggestion that I publish (expensively) in hardback (do I detect a note of sarcasm?) is worth a brief comment if only for the comedy value. I do publish in hardback in fact (for presentation copies). You may be interested to know that my last hardback order (and it certainly will be the last) had to be reprinted three times - the agent said he was as frustrated as I was - including once because somebody else's title had been printed on the spine (or am I just being 'over-fussy' again?)!

     

    I am not entirely stupid, Mr Lomas, and after a lifetime in books I do know what is normal quality (or curling) and what isn't. My experience shows that the Achilles heel of Lulu is the print end, and believe you me, I wouldn't have put finger to keyboard if I wasn't fed up to the back teeth with receiving orders where a ha'porth of tar or a pennyworth of quality control (in the UK for the paperbacks and France for the hardbacks) wouldn't have made all the difference.

     

    PS (just added)  Taking up your first point ('I have been using Lulu for many years also, and I don't recall seeing anyone saying that or having reason to.'), I tracked down the exchange referred to. Please note a particular member's four responses to a newbie dismayed by curling covers and judge whether my summary of what they amount to is accurate or not.  http://connect.lulu.com/t5/ideas/v2/ideapage/blog-id/Suggest/article-id/2346/page/2#comments 

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Thank you for your reply, Mr Lomas.

     

    However, implying that the problem either doesn't exist, or that the kind of curling I've had to put up with again and again is somehow normal, or that my case is unique, or my reaction is 'over-fussy', really isn't very helpful.

     

    I can only go off my own experience, the experience of book collectors that I know, what others say in the forums, and no one has reported such a problem while I have been using Lulu, but the reply still is, it is normal with all paperbacks. Especially if they are well-read.

     

    I see no purpose in going through your post point by point, but your suggestion that I publish (expensively) in hardback (do I detect a note of sarcasm?)

     

    Only if that's what you wish to note. It would solve the problem you witness.

     

    is worth a brief comment if only for the comedy value. I do publish in hardback in fact (for presentation copies).

     

    There you go then.

     

    You may be interested to know that my last hardback order (and it certainly will be the last) had to be reprinted three times - the agent said he was as frustrated as I was

     

    I know that Lulu do their best to solve problems, and that it keeps occurring could be a clue that it's normal? Thin plastic is stuck on to paper. Look at it in the same manner as a bimetalic strip. Which agent? And was it the printer he was frustrated with?

     

    - including once because somebody else's title had been printed on the spine (or am I just being 'over-fussy' again?)!

     

    Ah yes, that does rarely happen, and is bad as well as puzzling because the covers are printed off a one-piece PDF file, but that was not what you were complaining about.

     

    I am not entirely stupid, Mr Lomas, and after a lifetime in books I do know what is normal quality (or curling) and what isn't.

     

    I could say the exact same thing, in fact I did, with examples.

     

    My experience shows that the Achilles heel of Lulu is the print end, and believe you me, I wouldn't have put finger to keyboard if I wasn't fed up to the back teeth with receiving orders where a ha'porth of tar or a pennyworth of quality control (in the UK for the paperbacks and France for the hardbacks) wouldn't have made all the difference.

     

    I grant that Lulu and the printers they use are not 100% perfect but 1000s of people use Lulu each day, how come there are not 1000s of complaints?

     

    PS (just added)  Taking up your first point ('I have been using Lulu for many years also, and I don't recall seeing anyone saying that or having reason to.'), I tracked down the exchange referred to. Please note a particular member's four responses to a newbie dismayed by curling covers and judge whether my summary of what they amount to is accurate or not.  http://connect.lulu.com/t5/ideas/v2/ideapage/blog-id/Suggest/article-id/2346/page/2#comments 

     

    Good god, that's from four years ago, and Ken was eventually banned as a troll. That's not the forum, anyway. Not to mention that US Trade is printed in the USA.

     

    PS: Your deleted post. I replied in kind to your original post  Smiley Happy

     

  • You say, 'it is normal with all paperbacks. Especially if they are well-read.' But we're not talking about 'well-read' paperbacks, are we, but new ones, direct from the printer, mint condition - that's the whole point. I thought I had made that clear. And it's not normal with all paperbacks, as a moment’s observation will show. The point is absurd.
    Why don't you read what people write before banging away on your keyboard (which you seem to spend most of the day doing)? Same applies to your response to my reply. You didn't read it properly. Grow up and stop wasting my time.
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