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Something New - Lulu, Shopify, and Lulu xPress



  •  If money came because I had faith it would, I would be a tillionaire by now. Normally it comes via hard work.  ;)
  • First, officially launching on February 15th, our new book printing engine located at

    This does seem to be a standalone site. But does it mean that Lulu now own POD machines? Or is it just an alternative to this site?

    The POD will be done entirely through Lulu's existing network.

    Lulu xPress is a simplified and much improved form of the traditional Lulu Wizard. Basically, we stripped the process down to the absolute bare bones and started over.

    Is that a good idea? The Tools on Lulu are quite basic as it is.

    The "stripping down" is more in terms of offering just book creation and printing, without the retail publishing pieces.

     This is the first iteration and you'll notice there is no shop or retail distribution.

    That's an aspect of this site that many people love.

    xPress is, in part, a tool we needed to build our Shopify application. So that replaces the "store" at the moment.

    At the moment, the xPress site is still very basic, but it serves as a first look at our new book builder,

    I have not looked at it, yet. Can our Lulu log in details be used or does another account have to be opened? But many have been waiting for/ promised, a better book builder here, so why has it not been placed here on Lulu?

    At this very moment our IT folks are working on smoothing out the last issues with universal log in. I don't have the exact ETA, but it should be very soon.

    along with an improved pricing model that will eventually filter out to Lulu proper, and expanded options - we're up over 3,000 combinations now.

    That is amazing. How come you did not develop them here, on Create?

    In the long run, the book creator and options on xPress will replace Create. Currently, the restriction on Create are largely due to retail distribution.

    That's not even the coolest part!

    Later this month, we'll be releasing the first of our eCommerce integrations for Shopify. Other eCommerce options like WooCommerce and the like will follow.

    That's sounds interesting, but unlike Amazon, I have never heard of it. How many potential customers know it exists? I have never heard it advertised or mentioned.

    Shopify boasts over 1.2 million active users.

    What we've got here is a App using the Lulu xPress framework that allows anyone with a Shopify store to create a book, upload their files just like they would on Lulu, and sell direct using our network.

    All of this is built with our API for printing - run through our Developer API. We're redesigning our entire book creation system so each piece can function as an independent API, giving authors and entrepreneurs options about how they create and sell their books.

    Does this not just sound like is now splitting up in to many sites? And one that even charges for its use. It's that I would have liked to see changes made to.

    Yes and no. We're developing plug and play applications for each piece of the original Lulu site. The idea behind this is to make Print-on-Demand and Self-publishing more customizable to each user's needs.

    We don't have any services that are "pay to use", as far as I know we'll maintain that and only charge users for printing/shipping/services.

    The original Lulu site and all it's current functionality is slated for redesign, but the functionality will be retained.

    The xPress site is up and running now, and I'll update this thread later in the month once Shopify is live. For now, I'm happy to answer any questions and will gladly relay any feedback to our developers.

    OK, I have just logged in to xPress, and only a PDF can be uploaded for interior files. That will upset some people.

    Currently. We're already working on a new tool for converting and running DOCX and RTF files.

    All great questions and I've done my best to address each.

    On another note, I'm working with our providers for the forums to try to get the option added to the toolbar so we can apply colors to the text.
  • Papi_SoñolientoPapi_Soñoliento Southern Escarpment Hill Country Teacher

    Simply put as the indie publishing business has evolved Lulu is evolving to meet the differing needs of people with varying budgets and abilities as well as skill sets.

    One of the main reasons I chose Lulu way back when was the fact I wouldn't be getting nickled and dimed to death.
  • MaggieMaggie Publisher
    Kevin, without faith you can't close your mouth. You need to have faith that you'll be able to open it again ;)

  • TheJesusNinjaTheJesusNinja Teacher
    edited February 2018
    So is this replacing the current retail distribution "Global" that we have now? That's why I chose this site over Create-space. I can't afford to do the new shopify etc. As Sphinx said I didn't want to get nickle and dime but make as much profit as possible. It seems to getting much more complicated just as we got used the changes here before. I believe you said that the new additions were strictly optional? So we can still just use the usual Lulu site for continued creation and publishing? Or is that what the xpress thing is for to create and then choose what distribution including Global?
  • Ok I did just try out the xpress. It let me log in with my usual account info. I didn't make it down to the actual cover wizard but see how it is simplified and the Global distribution is included. I do upload pdf's for my paperbacks which I like to do because the convertor messed things up in the past with doc's. Doesn't seem that bad just different but more simple and on one page as you mentioned.
  • Paul_LuluPaul_Lulu Admin
    edited February 2018
    So is this replacing the current retail distribution "Global" that we have now? That's why I chose this site over Create-space. I can't afford to do the new shopify etc. As Sphinx said I didn't want to get nickle and dime but make as much profit as possible. It seems to getting much more complicated just as we got used the changes here before. I believe you said that the new additions were strictly optional? So we can still just use the usual Lulu site for continued creation and publishing? Or is that what the xpress thing is for to create and then choose what distribution including Global?
    Nothing is fundamentally changing. Our current global distribution isn't going anywhere. If anything, as we work on updating the underlying technology for our distribution network, it might get better. But I don't foresee us ever switch to a pay-to-play model for distro.

    We're adding in eCommerce tools like Shopify as another avenue for authors, not as a replacement to the existing system. The look and feel of the site may change some in the year(s) to come, and we will be updating the book wizard to function better, but the basic uses for Lulu won't be changing.

    Edit: I didn't respond to the last question. The Lulu xPress tool is designed so we can allow Shopify users to plug in. The interface for eCommerce stores wouldn't work with the existing Lulu book wizard. Over time, the way xPress is used to create books will inform how we rebuild the Lulu book wizard, but again, I don't see any existing functionality being lost in this process.
  • TheJesusNinjaTheJesusNinja Teacher
    edited February 2018
    Thanks Paul for getting back so quickly. That makes sense. The book wizard was something I've always asked about but nothing ever happened. I've gotten used to it and make it work but would love to see some added features to help those of us that can't use Photoshop yet. I'm working on it though. I'd love to be able to make my covers like Maggie , Ron, and some others here. I remember when Glen was here he'd always say "Patience Grasshopper." He was always right :smiley:  Thanks again Paul for being patient.
  • It's taken longer than any of us would have preferred. But we are finally making head way.

    Most important from our end is that we've developed from the ground up with a structure that we can change much more easily. The existing Lulu is very complex and cumbersome coding - I believe the industry term is spaghetti code - and the new infrastructure should make it easy to adapt and adjust as we learn what users want and need.
  •  Kevin, without faith you can't close your mouth. You need to have faith that you'll be able to open it again

    I have never had trouble with either. o:)   (I wonder why it always tries to put the emotes at the start of all the text?!)

  • It would have been nice to see this site improved, as asked for, and as always promised, but rarely happened, rather than all the effort used to create other sites.

    There's also the problem (and this also part applies to all the "How do I sell more books?" postings) that unless one can attack the whole of self-publishing full-time, one does not really have the time to take advantage of all these other new options. As I say, it would have been nice to see this site improved.

  • I would have to agree with Kevin this time. Improving "this" site would be very nice. I've complained about the bugs in the cover wizard forever, crashes, not displaying preview correctly, not able to raise the text box for the title high enough etc. Perhaps even new fonts with some effects etc. This is really the only complaint that I have. The rest of the site is fine once you figure it out. As some of my friends here have figured out, having one book out and expecting to get rich is not going to happen, not on our budget. But I've gone from the one book and getting $5 a month to having more books out and selling over 200 or more and getting a bigger check. Most of that comes from just one book that I happen to get lucky with. So the more different books out the more chances of having 3 or 4 that sell really well. That's my experience so far anyway. I definitely do appreciate the hard work and new additions. Maybe later I can take advantage of them. Something else I'd like to see is a better book reporting page. I'd like to be able to look at the page and see the total of a particular book sold, even over time rather than have it scattered of multiple pages and have to add it up. Not sure if that's possible or not. Just so I could tell which books sold the best that month. Spreadsheets are fine but haven't found a way to get the above to show is there is a way too. Not complaining about anything just a few suggestions maybe.
  • The general feeling in the building echoes this sentiment. We have spent the last couple years trying to break open the market space with some new tools (I'm sure some of you remember glasstree...).
    There was always an understanding that we would come back to fixing Lulu, but it kept getting pushed off. That (should) be changing this year. Lulu xPress is a part of Lulu, the "only to print and order" piece that we need because we have a lot of customers ordering in this way.
    But the actually rebuilding of Lulu itself is slated to follow closely behind.
  • No, what is Grasstree? But Paul, we have heard such promises for years.
  • I think opening the market is great for those who can afford it. It's a great idea. My only complaint with this site is the cover wizard, which I hear is going to get worked on later. So I'm pretty much fine with everything. I just didn't understand completely what the new additions were but now I do. Hope it works out well for those who can use it. It's a great addition. And just an after thought, I think everyone should thank Paul, he's a doing an outstanding job taking over for Glenn and shows a lot of patience. So thank you!
  • Maggie said:
    Kevin, without faith you can't close your mouth. You need to have faith that you'll be able to open it again ;)

    Well said. And to add: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for ..." and a hope is a reasonable expectation of a positive future event.

    Note the "Reasonable." One can't hope that tomorrow a paper-money blizzard will blanket your back yard. That's not reasonable, so it's a wish, not a hope. However, one can hope (reasonably) that there will be enough sales to provide one's daily bread.

  • If the XPress improves the Cover Wizard and allows WYSIWYG views of the cover, that alone will be worth whatever it took to do it. I look forward to trying it on my next publication (currently on hold for some real-life projects).
  • uses a new log in, though I strongly suggest using the same email as your existing Lulu account. All of our new products/platforms will use a single sign on, but incorporating that into the existing Lulu framework has proven challenging. We should be able to merge everything into a single log in for all Lulu products before the end of 2018 (I say, somewhat hopeful).

    Using xPress just to print is exactly what the site is designed for! We've got an updated pricing structure too, so some products will cost less (color in particular) so it's a great way to get copies at a better price. You should be able to use your print-ready files from Lulu on xPress without any problems.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    I followed through to the Print With Distribution option and it brought me back to Lulu! So if one wants distribution using an ISBN one still has to use the Create limitations here? LuluxPress is only a POD printer?
  • Kevin - you're exactly correct.

    Lulu xPress only provides print and ship options, there is no retail attached to that tool currently.

    In the long run, the infrastructure of Lulu xPress will be used to update the existing Lulu wizard and will provide a route for distribution.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    When will the options be available here? No offence but we have heard many promises over the years, that never happened. To have all those book type options here would improve the site greatly, but the problem will be getting the retailers to allow us to apply ISBNs on all those new options. Not to mention many of the old options here.  :(
  • I can't speak to a timeline, but I can say the hold up is largely around distribution. Attaching retail distribution services that meet all the different retails requirements and work seamlessly with our existing library of published content is...challenging.

    We're working on it.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    It is peculiar those retail restrictions exist. Do you have any idea why they do?
  • My understanding is that it's due to the need for retailers to be able to reliably print and fulfill while hitting our price points/revenue amounts set by the author.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Hrmm, but the Cost is the literal cost is it not? We look at the Cost and just have to shrug.
  • I'm not sure I understand what you mean. There is the print cost set by us and the revenue amount set by the author. The retailer takes those numbers and mashes them into a wholesale cost and then jacks that up to get to retail.
    That equation makes for a fairly high retail cost, but it has to hit an equally high retailer take, meaning they (the retailers) want to limit the formats they accept so as to maximize their profits and minimize their costs.
    There is no doubt Amazon and Ingram can print all the formats we offer. It's a matter of which ones they are willing to print.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    I guess what I mean is that we have no control over the Cost. But that does not stop creators here adding profits so high that you would expect it to put off retailers, but all the same, those retailers still advertise the products and add even more to the retail price (it's not as if they have to buy stock.) So why does that not apply to all the things that can be created here?
  • Ah I see.

    As I mentioned above, it's largely tied to how retailers do business. They decide what they think they can sell/print/ship at a profit based on the requirements we have for our projects (paper/ink/binding). Distribution is a complex task, so the exact reasons for some products being available while others are not my escape me.

    What I do know is that retailers have a lot of say over which products they will accept from Lulu and the stated reasons we've received regarding this are those I mentioned above (profitability/cost to produce).
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    It could be possible that they do not have POD machines that can create ringbinding I suppose. Createspace do not offer it.
  • davidRoddisdavidRoddis Toronto, Canada Writer
    Yeah Shopify's starting price is $29 plus $9 for accepting credit cards.
    Hi, I use shopify but do not have a store with them. They have a way of creating products then simply using the code to place that product on your website or anywhere you like really.  All the backend is handled by them, but customers come to my free wordpress blog to view and hopefully buy.  My plan for e-commerce but without a Shopify store costs me just under ten dollars US per month.  
    David Roddis
    "From the moment I picked up your book until I put it down I was convulsed with laughter.  Next time I intend reading it."       —Groucho Marx
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