International Shipping Issues

At Lulu, we strive to listen to our customers and respond to their issues. One of the things we have consistently been hearing from our users are concerns about the cost of shipping internationally. As such, I wanted to address some of these concerns, and assure you that we’re doing our best to resolve them in the best possible way.

Unfortunately, the situation with international shipping prices being as high as they are is the result of several known issues. One of these issues is that, in October, we switched mail providers and in that transition lost some of our lower cost international shipping choices. In addition, we had been absorbing  a lot of cost in international shipping and had to increase our charges to match. The combination of these two events resulted in some of the prices users are currently seeing. To resolve the situation, we rolled out an economy shipping option for international users that, while a little more expensive than the previous cost users may have been seeing, was much more reasonable. Unfortunately, this option does not have tracking associated with it, which we know has caused issues for some of our customers.

We’ve also seen confusion regarding where the book is shipping from. In most cases, the higher shipping prices are only occurring in situations where an item is being shipped from the US to another country. At this time we have printers in  4  countries and some of them have limitations on the binding types, trim sizes, and types of products they can print. As such, there are cases where an order can only be shipped from a printer in the US, resulting in higher prices.  We are actively working to reduce the number of products that have to be shipped overseas.

Finally, there are also situations where our system stores the shipping preferences chosen from your last order, resulting in a situation where the default shipping method is not the least expensive option. This can be corrected by changing the shipping method before ordering, but it is not always obvious that this is an option.

We apologize for any inconvenience these issues have caused, and we are striving to improve your purchase experience and provide you with affordable and effective global shipping. We are currently looking at rolling out  solutions  over  the next  several months and we will keep you updated with information as we finalize the details. In the meantime, we recommend that you follow Wil Wheaton’s advice, and offer both an electronic version and create a “World Edition” of your book. The World Edition should be softcover and should be in one of our International sizes (6×9, 6.625×10.25, 4.25X6.875, 9×7, Royal, Crown Quatro, or A4) to ensure that it won’t be shipped from the US.

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19 Comments

  1. rasheed altalib

    Earlier, say in 2008, your shipping options for india used to include an economy mailing at about USDollars 6 to 7. recently when i purchased a copy of my book for disptach to india i found that the minimum postage charge had shot up to USD 19. How come?

  2. Kevin

    That does not explian why you cannot get the same mass-posting deals other companies seem to be able to get, or how even some small companies can mail things for free!
    World mail is ‘Zoned’ and you seem to be charging the most expensive zone rate regardless of which zone you are mailing to and from.

  3. Ron Costello

    Hello, last week I purchased the Masterpiece Pack from Lulu. Then I downloaded my manuscript to them. Now they don’t take my calls and my email is returned by an automatic response. Should I be more patient? Or do they not care because now they have my money. I am a little anxious to get going but I wish they would tell me the timeline and what is going on. Thanks.

  4. @rasheed – Nick explained the causes in the blog post above.

    @Kevin – The new shipping changes will be more competitive. In a lot of cases when a company is offering “free” shipping, it’s not actually free, it just means that they are paying for it and not charging the customer.

  5. Shipping expenses have always been a black plague in the book industry. It’s probably the #1 expense for a bookstore next to payroll since book margins are so small anyway, and even worse for POD.

    B&N Corporate practically demands free shipping from all of its vendors. With all the recent economic problems in the country, UPS started hitting its customers with fuel surcharges, so you could almost predict that international shipping would go up too.

    I myself was recently surprised when I had Lulu dropship a book to one of our reviewers in California. Your Fedex option was actually cheaper than UPS or the Post Office. As a side note, let’s not forget stamps are going up again in May.

    The only true way to escape this problem is to continue promoting Ebook editions of books. The margins are better, and the expenses for Lulu and for the author are almost nonexistent.

    Kudos to Lulu for at least addressing this situation now for international authors and readers, and what an excellent idea for suggesting World Edition publications!

  6. Not only the high international shipping fees, but the actual delivery of the product is what i’ve been complaining about for two to three times now.

    I live in the Philippines. I’ve ordered my own book (http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback_book/haunted_shuddersville_%231_-_the_siete_payazos_part_1/3040008) twice, waited for over half a year and yet neither were delivered.

    I’m currently raising funds to try ordering my book again, but now instead of standard shipping i will be choosing express. Hopefully this will solve my problem.

  7. Henry Alfred Bugalho

    At least there’s someone addressing the issue…

    Unfortunately, I don’t think that Latin America costumers will be able to enjoy the advantages of the “World Edition”. I have a book published under those dimensions, and today the shipping price is higher than the cost of the book (U$ 11,96 for the book + U$ 19,96 for shipping).
    My non-fictions books are selling ok on e-book, but my fiction sells dropped to zero. Nobody in US would pay 30 bucks for a softcover, so you can’t expect that someone would pay it in another country (specially if you consider the currency).

  8. ex-customer

    My new book (hardback, 800 pages) costs €26.65 and its “economy” shipping costs €38.48???

    I’m very sad about this and say goodbye Lulu!

    An ex-customer

  9. I have learned about this International Shipping fiasco the hard way – by publishing a book and then re-publishing it (after getting Lulu Help’s advice to make a 6×9 version that “will print more cheaply in Australia”). After the work of re-publishing the book, the shipping price remains the same – $10.48 US, which is very high (when converted into AU dollars)for a book that is meantto be printed here in Australia. ($3 would be more like it.)
    Wil Wheaton’s book (mentioned in your post) costs $14.91 to ship to Australia – you’d have to be very keen to accept that. I guess like your previous comment, after all this work I guess it’s goodbye Lulu!

  10. Angry Rabbi

    This actually explains why Lulu shipping costs are so expensive. However, I found it odd that Lulu is still using this unaffordable company. Actually, I’m just wondering if it’s because Lulu get a higher percentage profit by using this company… I’d be more willing to spend more money on the product than waisting it on shippig fees. I believe most people would agree with me.

  11. mick mercer

    A few backs comments appeared from Lulu staff saying something further would be done about the ‘economy’ rate, although the only rumour currently rampant is it costs £4.75 to order a single book within the UK, which can’t be right.

    It’s fine to suggest people make e-books of their work avalable, which cost nothing to produce, but people can easily make those available through their own websites and have a paypal/password option to make money that way. Lulu is here for us to sell books, but the postage problem seems endless.

    When will we actually hear about cheaper, sensible postage rates?

    cheers!

    Mick

  12. I wouldn’t mind the high costs if the company delivered. I ordered 20 books to go to Australia on 5/8, via standard, ad my author never received them.

    Has anyone else had trouble getting their books?
    Barbara

  13. Paul

    £8.99 to deliver a single CD in the UK? Or £44.99 for ten? You’re having a laugh. It simply does not cost that much. It makes the whole service not worth using. All very disappointing.

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  16. I know what you mean about those big ol’ boxes. Heck, I’ve also heard a lot of praise about them, and can see why GR continue to use them (furthering the whole “quality product” mindset), but let’s be honest; you could get the Dragon Age GM kit into a large envelope. I would really appreciate an option to have that; just a little check box on the order screen, so that you can continue to be trying to provide a quality service, despite your penny-pinching players.
    I say this mainly because I know that no matter how well packaged a gaming aid is, it will be covered in salsa and crumbs within five minutes of removing it from the box anyway, and so the safety of my cardboard during shipping isn’t of paramount priority to me.

    On the other hand, I can see how something like this could cause a lot of micromanagement issues, which would just up the handling cost as muchas it would lower the shipping costs, so I guess it’s up to someone at GRHQ with a calculator and some pateince for numbers.

    As an aside; ouch on the currency there…

  17. Morgan

    We appreciate your feedback on the matter. At this time, our packaging options are standard. We have tested envelopes, but they lead to too much shipping damage, so we do not offer that option. We always strive to provide the best possible value. Thanks for the comment.

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2 Trackbacks

  1. By International Shipping Solutions | Lulu Blog on May 18, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    [...] customers tell us that our shipping costs are too high and that we need to change things. In March, Nick discussed some of the reasons behind these issues and promised we would give the community more information as soon as we could. Meanwhile, the [...]

  2. [...] onze verzendingskosten te hoog zijn, en dat we hier verandering in moeten brengen. In maart heeft Nick (Americaanse blog) een aantal redenen voor dit probleem besproken, en beloofden we dat we de gemeenschap meer informatie zouden geven zo snel we konden. Intussen [...]

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