Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Book Distribution at Lulu.com.

You get what you pay for.

This is an update on circumstances regarding the buying/distribution status of my book Inside Realms.

This past summer Lulu.com was offering its Published by Lulu distribution package for free, so I took advantage of this deal for my book Inside Realms. I double-checked their webpage to see if there were any restrictions, but they were indeed offering their regular $100 package for free (which gave book distribution on various online retailers, including Barnes and Noble and Amazon, including the international sites). I assumed it was just a time-limited promotion, for their website never changed the description of the distribution package. I repeat, at no time did that description change, so I assumed that I would receive the full distribution for my book, Inside Realms.

All went well at first; my book appeared on the Amazons, then at Barnes and Noble, beginning at unavailable/out of stock status as it was supposed to happen. I patiently waited and then one happy day it was at full status at Amazon.com. I thought it was only a matter of time before all the other retailers followed. In fact I believed it was happening when Barnes and Noble listed it at full status. Then it was gone, back to out of stock status at Barnes and Noble a few days later.

What was happening?

Policy changes at Lulu.com. They changed their Published at Lulu distribution package to a permanent free status, but it now mirrored Amazon’s CreateSpace with only Amazon.com distribution. Which is fine, that is definitely their privilege, although it does make it more complicated for international authors, especially with their new shipping rates.

I thought perhaps these changes were causing some delay or glitch with my book’s distribution, so I emailed Lulu. And found out they were not honouring the full distribution agreement, that they had somehow downgraded me to Amazon.com only.


This is the inquiry email I sent:
I recently acquired a Published by Lulu distribution deal for my book, Inside Realms, just before you made your latest changes. I have been waiting for it to be available for sale at online retailers for over the allotted time, but only Amazon.com lists it for sale. Places such as Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.ca are still listing it as unavailable or out of stock.

Can you enlighten me as to why? I have been reading disturbing rumours on the Internet regarding recent Lulu.com books not getting their full distribution due to your policy changes.

This is their reply:
Thank you for your email. Titles with the Free Published by Lulu distribution package will only be distributed to Amazon. However, we do offer an option to get wider distribution if you have the Free Published by Lulu package. You can check out the Expanded Distribution Package here:
http://www.lulu.com/content/4683045
Please feel free to contact us if you have any additional questions.

(Note: the Expanded Distribution Package costs $50.)

I sent another email after this protesting their stand, but I have yet to hear anything from Lulu.

Further investigations have led me to believe I am not the only author who got downgraded; there are rumblings among the blogs of others. It seems Lulu’s free summer offer was for its new Amazon.com only package, not for the old one they advertised.

I would also like to state that the current situation of my book may be due in part to the fact Barnes and Noble may be phasing out Print-on-Demand books. Everything in POD these days seems to be gearing toward Amazon, and just Amazon.

The end result of all this is one fact: there are only two places people can buy my book. At Amazon.com and Lulu.com; I don’t even have a retail listing in my own country of Canada.

All these recent changes and uncertainty has me asking: Is this the end of POD as a publishing option? I know I am certainly reconsidering my publishing options.

3 comments:

Dorothy said...

Wow. A.F., that royally sucks if you want my honest opinion. I would suggest looking elsewhere for future books. I know Lulu is easy, but that royally sucks that they aren't honoring their original distribution plan and very dishonorable of them.

Shannon Yarbrough said...

Hi AF-

I've been researching this whole "out of print" mess with Lulu and Amazon because of problems I'm having with one of my books. I found your blog post through Google, and wanted to thank you for this information and to ask if anything has changed since December.

Believe me, this isn't really the end of POD. Self-publishing as an industry is growing more and more these days and becoming much more mainstream. There are lots of options out there. Don't give up!

Best wishes,
Shannon

Cynthia Cox said...

I for one have found the error of my ways with Lulu.com. The controversy is still too new online and with rural areas of e-books and traditional book publishing. I have found no such luck with Publish America either. Technology is racing faster than most care to stay educated or caught up on and as good as "free" is. I am learning, you get what you paid for. Imagine if all writers of content, quit; then would the world be? lol

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