International Shipping Solutions

Over the past several months, we have heard our international 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 issues with international shipping have continued and the community has rightly questioned both the reasons behind them and what if anything can be done to lower the cost. We sincerely apologize for the frustration and inconvenience you have experienced from our current shipping methods, but we have been taking all of your feedback into account and have been working hard to resolve these issues once and for all.

We have already rolled out the following solutions, and we will continue to improve our offerings across the world.

We have:

  • Expanded our capabilities in Europe.  This should greatly reduce the shipping costs anywhere in Europe.
  • Extended flat rate pricing in Europe on orders for one, two, and three books.
  • Introduced flat rate pricing on international mail shipments on orders of one, two and three hardcover books from the US

Additionally, we are implementing the following changes that we hope to make available to you by the end of this summer:

  • Expand our capabilities in Europe to produce more hardcover trim sizes to lower shipping rates on that product line.
  • Analyze our pricing for Australian customers, and explore areas we could lower our shipping rates.
  • Change U.S. and Canada domestic mail and ground shipments to competitive flat rates
  • Expand our West Coast capabilities to lower shipping rates to West Coast customers

Implementing these changes requires significant upgrades to our current processes as well as  our supply chain management, but with your support and feedback we are confident we can bring you continuous improvement.

Thank you all for your input and patience.  We welcome your comments.

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43 Comments

  1. The other issue I would like to point out is that the special deals .e.g. a % off, are only available to US authors.

    Can’t this be made fair for everyone? Even if we have to pay international shipping, why can’t we take advantage of the percentage off bulk orders?

  2. Tizer

    Mr Chen, Thank you for paying attention to the concerns of your customers. My concern, like that of many others of your customers in the UK, is particularly with the high shipping charge that Lulu imposes on books printed and delivered within the UK. I note what you have said in your blog but it is not clear whether or not you are changing these internal UK shipping charges. Your flat rate for shipping within the UK is currently driving both publishers and book buyers away from Lulu as you will see in the forums. For example, a small 9×6 book with manufacturing cost of £3.00 is burdened with a shipping charge of £4.75. Yet if I asked the same UK printer who sends out these books to do a POD book for me he would charge only £1.50 shipping to send out each book (the Royal Mail postage is £0.70). Not only is £4.75 prohibitively expensive, it is for a non-trackable postal service with a potentially long delivery time and Lulu deny any responsibility for items not received. Besides being expensive, these high charges give Lulu a very bad image. I hope you will soon remedy this situation.
    Thank you

  3. Thank you Lulu. The postage issue was becoming ridiculous to the point I was considering looking elsewhere. I love Lulu but a flat rate of £10 postage on a £9 book to the UK? My customers would have been able to afford to buy my books at those prices!

  4. Carol Townsend

    Thank you for responding.
    I am in the UK and now recommend that people buy my book from Amazon rather than Lulu as the postage cost is so high (more than the cost of the book!) even though it is printed in the UK.I ordered a book for a friend from Amazon as it was cheaper even though I can order the book from Lulu at cost price.I’m not bothered about making a profit on my book so I will charge them what I paid for it.
    I’m sure people are put off buying because of the postage cost, and not everyone outside the US wants to pay for the extended distribution.

  5. Catherine Greenall

    There has been a massive increase in postage costs for mailing out books in the past 2-3 months.

    This has been without a simple mail out of courtesy to authors who are selling their own books and like myself will have to re-work their pricing model. This could cost them money if they had not noticed and had quoted for books based on the old postage costs.

    Also, the increase in some cases has been 27%. Has postage really gone up that much? Or is this just another way of Lulu putting up the prices on our existing books?

  6. Oh Huishan

    Hi I am still writing my first book which is a collection of short stories under the genre christi an fiction. I intend very much to use lulu.com but since u are making changes then why is Asia being left out? I am from Singapore. It says on the lulublog more of the changes are for Europe. What about Asia? what is being done for Asia regions?

  7. I’ve lost count of the number of authors who have posted to my site and corresponded with me about the charges at lulu. While the on line software and quality is excellent, but even taking into account the recent free offer on ‘Publish by Lulu’, authors are taking their books down from Lulu and moving them to Createspace and Amazon or setting them up with Lightning Source.

    It really says something, when as an author, it is cheaper and quicker for me to order my own Lulu books from Amazon.co.uk

    Mick Rooney, Editor@
    POD, Self Publishing & Independent Publishing (http://mickrooney.blogspot.com)

  8. I think I need to add my own opinion on this. There are a couple of points I’d like to underline.

    First, that you “sincerely apologize” is of course commendable, but my bet is that most people do not care about that at this point. Apologizes were perfect when the problems started, back in November – more than six months later, they are somewhat overdue and hollow. What authors are interested in now are solutions to a very straightforward issue: the high shipping costs.

    The solutions you have rolled out so far, although interesting, are mere workarounds that do not really achieve a significant cost reduction.

    The expanded European capabilities doesn’t directly address the shipping costs issue: customers from the UK were already complaining of the shipping costs from a printer located in their own country; French customers found shipping from the Spanish printer, a neighborhood country, way too high to be commercially viable. Given that in areas that were already close from the production centers, the costs were already too high, it is quite difficult for me to understand how a wider coverage would improve anything. Moreover, as long as not all US formats/products are available elsewhere, this solution will not be of any use for some of the authors.

    As a side note, will those “expanded capabilities” *finally* include the distribution for the French market, announced times and again for a couple of years already?

    Besides that, “Outside the USA” doesn’t equate “In Europe” by far. What about authors from Africa, the Middle East, or Far-East Asia?

    On the flat rate pricing on one to three books: the problem remains in that the flat rate offered is too high. And again, not everybody lives in Europe.

    On what should be available “by the end of summer” (the reader should remember that it means that those solutions would have taken nearly one year to be implemented):

    - Hardcover production in Europe is a good news for European customers. Except that the current shipping prices for softcover books printed in Europe are *already* way too high. And again, what about customers outside Europe?

    - Analyze the Australian pricing? Do you mean you haven’t done that already? This seems part difficult to understand (six months to evaluate how much a product costs to an Australian customer, and how it compares with similar products on its home market seems plenty enough, don’t you think?) and part contradictory with your claim that you have been listening to complaints. If even what appears to be basical preliminary market study has not been done yet, then it is a confess that nothing has been studied so far regarding the Australian market.

    Reading all this, I cannot help noticing that nowhere is it suggested anything to lower overseas shipment costs, which was, after all, the origin of problems. Neither is the possibility of changing mail providers, which seems quite a logical think to do, since it is one of the main reasons for the price increases according to Lulu itself. I don’t see the use of cheaper local transporters being mentioned, either, while it too would be an obvious solution to investigate (Kiala for Western European customers is a good example of such a cheaper shipping system).

    My overall opinion on this stays the same: that the real reason for the prices increase was to create an artificial market fragmentation into geographical areas and raise Lulu’s profit margin in the process. I also note that besides Northern America, Western Europe and Australia, the rest of the world doesn’t exist. The will of Lulu has not changed since last October: no, foreigners will not be able to buy books from the US anymore; no, they shouldn’t expect the same low prices the US customers enjoy; no, the current prices will not significantly go down and are here to stay.

    Do I sound harsh? Yes, probably; but I’m really disappointed by the attitude of Lulu, that keeps dodging the difficult questions and still doesn’t want to admit what has become IMHO pretty obvious for months: that there are “The US” and “The Rest”, and that “The Rest” shouldn’t expect more than second-class services.

  9. Anonymous

    can all the European countries can already access to your services? this would be fun you know. we could know lots of people from this.

  10. Tizer

    Mr Chen, I would be grateful if you would be kind enough to post your reply here to those questions and concerns expressed by myself and others above. It would also serve the purpose of confirming for us whether or not you actually read and take note of the replies to your blog.

  11. Why are you so vague?

    You say

    “•Introduced flat rate pricing on international mail shipments on orders of one, two and three hardcover books from the US”

    what is this fee? How much is it in $?

    I have tried to order a hardcover to Israel and I dont see any change? Does this include all orders or only Uk orders?

    AS far as international customers are concerned (Those not living in the US or Europe ) there is no change of policy here. Standard shipping is still around 100$ for one book.

  12. Karen,
    We have launched several promotional campaigns in Europe and we will shortly be launching several promotional campaigns in Australia. We recognize that it is unfair to our non-US customers to not be given similar promotions, and we intend to rectify that by extending similar promotions to everyone.

    Tizer,
    I apologize if I was not clear in my original message. The changes I spoke of, particularly “Expanded our capabilities in Europe. This should greatly reduce the shipping costs anywhere in Europe” should lead to a decrease in the £4.75 cost over the next few months.

    Oh, Yann, and Mois,
    You all raise excellent points regarding non-US and Europe international customers. Asia is certainly important to us, as are our customers in the rest of the world. The list I mentioned above is not a definitive one, but rather where we are starting. We are committed to continuously working on international shipping, and we will be improving it across the board, but it may take us some time to get to everything.

    Yann,
    There are several points you make that I would like to try to address. You mention that I do not mention lowering the cost of overseas shipping. Our goal is to reduce overseas shipping to as few products as
    possible and work to eliminate it as a factor for high shipping costs all-together. We hope to equip all of our printers with the same products so that shipping overseas is rarely necessary. However, I did mention establishing flat-rates for overseas shipping of hardcovers, the major product line currently affected. This has already been implemented and users should see a serious impact there. We will continue to work to improve this situation, and we will be asking for your continued feedback so we know what’s working and what still needs improvement.

    Additionally, you asked what I meant by “Analyze our pricing for Australian customers, and explore areas we could lower our shipping rates.” By analyzing our pricing and shipping rates I meant in an effort to improve on the established ones. We certainly did research prior to our launch of the Australian printer, and we continue to do so. However, we also recognize that our Australian customers need similar options to those in the US and Europe, and so we are looking at improved flat-rates across the board for all of our customers. Analyzing our data in Australia is part of that process.

    I hope this answers most of your questions, but if I have overlooked anything, or if you have additional questions, please let me know.

  13. What I want to really know is why Lulu shipping is so high, but shipping from Amazon.com isn’t… and Amazon.com comes to me from the US. It just doesn’t make sense. I could get my book on Amazon.com (when it gets there)cheaper than I can on Lulu and on Amazon.co.uk, I would be getting free postage… So why, if my book is printed in the UK and shipped to the UK, are the prices so high? While a solution is what we need, I feel we haven’t been given answers to our questions….

  14. Now I have see the fixed price for European orders, 6 € for 1 book and 8.11€ for 3 books (if you change the currency then no deal ….???XXX????) I’d be very happy to have a deal like this for Israel.

    I tried to order a digest book to Israel with 430 pages and it costs (please be seated) 39$ for economy non trackable shipping (and of course the mandatory 100$ for standard). DHL or Fedex could be cheaper.

    Chan, I don’t know in what planet you live but it seems this is interplantery shipping and not overseas shipping.

    I have orderes one book since October. I am just waiting for you people to come with some kind of solution.

  15. I too am appalled by the exorbitant costs of shipping. I was emailed on the weekend by a potential customer who refused to pay 120 Euros for shipping on two books. She accused me of gouging, thinking that I make my money by charging inflated costs. WOW! Needless to say she refused to buy.
    I used to be quite pleased with the shipping options and it was one of the reasons that I originally chose Lulu to publish my books. But not any more, if I were to order the same two books to Canada shipping costs more than the books. There is something morally wrong with a company charging these prices and you blame it on your new shipper. I ask how could you in good consciousness have switched to a shipper that is charging these ridiculous prices? No wonder sales are so low.
    Please give us some indication when this problem will be resolved. Otherwise, it is most certainly time to find another publisher.

  16. Lulu charges £4.75 to ship our book – a 100-point checklist for web developers – to the UK. If costs only 70p using Royal Mail to ship the book within the UK, so Lulu still charges a whopping markup.

    We’ve seen an improvement in shipping time though – 12 months ago it took 9 working days to ship to the UK, now it takes 4 working days (from when the order is placed).

  17. Laurence

    As someone who is looking at all the competition very closely before publishing my first book, what distresses me most is the appearance of deceit. Lulu claims their commission is 25%, but the padded shipping rates (and let’s call a spade a spade, here: they are padded) constitutes a ‘hidden cost’.

    POD is a rapidly shifting industry, but I expect I will go with another supplier – not because they are cheaper, but because they have not used deceptive practices.

    The problem isn’t the high shipping rates, Mr Chen. It is the low amount of trust you are generating in your customers.

    To be fair, I have found most of the competition are pretty slippery when it comes to clearly stating their TOS. It is hard to get a straight quote out of anyone nowadays.

    Perhaps Lulu should lead the pack, with a project price calculator that factors in shipping costs to sample destinations. Put it on the front page.

    Increase your commission to 50% if you have to, but bring the shipping costs back down to earth, and let consumers make an honest comparison between you and your competition.

    Much better than having me invest a whole day in getting set up to publish with you, only to abort at the last minute. The bait-and-switch has never been a good long-term business strategy. In this day and age it is insulting, wasteful, and a red flag that causes us to reflect upon your company’s soundness and prospects for the future.

  18. I’m glad I happened to trip over this discussion on postage. It answers a question that has been bothering me for some time now.

    As you know Lulu records the views on author books. I’ve had several thousand views of my books on Lulu as I have a link to Lulu from my website Ironstruck.ca but seldom sell more than 1 or 2 a month through Lulu. Yet I regularly sell 15 or 20 every month on Amazon.

    I guess you have all answered my question, but I wonder how many sales of my book have been lost by people who refuse to pay Lulu shipping costs and don’t bother to check on Amazon? I guess I will never know.

    Doesn’t it make good business sense for Lulu to lower customer shipping costs, and as a result have more books sold through their site? Don’t they also earn a percentage of every book sale??? Or perhaps the inflated postage is prices are more lucrative.

  19. Please consider printing in Canada; I love Lulu; just did my 3rd book with you — but nobody up here will pay the shipping. Thanks & keep up the good work!

  20. One simple questions:

    Is there any chanse that in the forseeable future the cost of shipping to countries outside the US and EU will go back to being reasonable? Is there a chance that there will be change in 3 months? in 6 months?

    Can someone answer that?

  21. Al Allaway

    Reading all the above, I want to specify a direct question to Michael Chen. I have been attempting to obtain shipping rates to Norway, and Lulu has ignored many requests over the past three weeks. Phoning Lulu is a dead horse. How can I get the rate? I’v customers in Norway that are getting discouraged and about to cancel orders. It doesn’t make any sense for Lulu to ship books to Washington state and then we turn around and reship to Norway. Your public relations is in the toilet. Iv’e created over 18 titles and purchased over 1200 books. I think I deserve an answer before Jesus comes.. Al Allaway, Yakima WA

  22. Peter Hadley

    A number of friends who bought a copy of my book complained to me that the postage from the US to Australia costs more than the book. Doesn’t Lulu have Australian printers it could send my files to for printing. This si the only solution that i can see.

  23. Bruce Thornton

    Letter sent 1 March, 2009 – No response to date.

    The Customer Services Manager
    Lulu Enterprises,
    860 Aviation Parkway, Suite 300,
    MORRISVILLE NC 27560
    UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

    Dear Sir/Madam,
    Re Shipping Charges – Australia
    I write concerning shipping charges applied to books ordered from you and posted both within and to Australia.

    My concern is that, in comparison to postal charges both within Australia and from the U.S. to Australia, they appear to be excessive. I cite the following examples.

    “Some Fell on Good Ground”. One Copy (maximum weight including packing 750g – dimensions 25cm x 15cm x 3cm) – posted from Melbourne to Sydney would be (Regular Post) $AUD 9.60 ($US $6,40), Express Post $AUD10.90 ($US7.30).
    -posted from US –( Priority Mail International Small Flat Rate Box) $US 12.95 ($AUD 19.42). Your invoiced rate for the above is $US 19.96 ($AUD $29.94)

    “The First Australian Baptists” – One Copy (maximum weight including packing 350g – dimensions 25cm x 15cm x 2cm) – posted from Melbourne to Sydney would be (Regular Post) $AUD 5.40 ($US $3.60), Express Post $AUD 7.70 ($US3.80).
    -posted from US –( Priority Mail International Small Flat Rate Box) $US 12.95 ($AUD 19.42). Your invoiced rate for the above is $US 10.48 ($AUD $15.72)

    “Catching the Waves – an autobiography…”Book 1 – Three Copies (maximum weight including packing 1.4 kgs, (3 lbs) – dimensions 35cm x 20cm x 10cm) – posted from Melbourne to Sydney would be (Regular Post) $AUD10.45 ($US $7.00), Express Post $AUD 10.90 ($US7.30).
    -posted from US –( Priority Mail International Small Flat Rate Box) $US 12.95 ($AUD 19.42). Your invoiced rate for the above is $US 18.47 ($AUD $27.70)

    You will see from the above that there are major variations in the postage charged. As many of our publications are printed in Melbourne it would be more appropriate if the Australian rate were charged plus a packing fee.

    I have a considerable number of associates who would consider using your services but when I suggest it to them their initial reaction is that the shipping charges are so excessive as to be prohibitive. Please consider the above matter and let me have your response as soon as practicable. I can be reached at admin@superwork.com.au

    With Best wishes,

    Yours sincerely,

    (Rev) I.B. Thornton.

  24. On June 17 I received this email from Mr. Chen

    Hi, there,
    Yes we are working on this very issue. Stay tuned for the upcoming change.

    Cheers,

    Michael

  25. Jim Scallan

    Michael,
    Can you give me any justification for a shipping price of over 300% of the cost of the book? This is only a shipment to Canada and I could almost justify driving to pick it up at that price. My cost is $8.32 and shipping is a further $27.15!
    I can’t justify buying a copy for myself, never mind hope someone will buy it ar retail.

    Is there any hope for the future in this regard? I know shipping does NOT cost anywhere near those values.

  26. Michael,

    I am an Australian author who has already published one novel through Lulu.com. You can imagine my surprise when I completed my second book (over year’s work), uploaded it to Lulu and then saw the current printing/shipping costs. If I hadn’t spent so much time on the book, I wouldn’t have proceeded with the printing. At this stage, I really can’t recommend to anyone who has read my first book to buy the second one – the printing/shipping costs make it inconceivable to consider going down that road.

    I truly hope you are not being disingenuous when you claim you will “Analyze our pricing for Australian customers, and explore areas we could lower our shipping rates.” Your post was written on May 18th. I write this on July 9th. Do you have any information on how much longer your analysis will take? A solution is required sooner than later.

    Sadly, on an FAQ on my site I have placed the following Q & A:

    “Can I purchase the book?”

    “Yes – if you want to, although I’d probably wait until Lulu.com adopt a more customer-friendly printing and shipping model. Its current arrangement is prohibitively expensive, especially for Australian buyers. I do plan on placing the books on other sites that have more realistic printing costs.”

    I look forward to receiving information regarding your pursuit of this issue. How will authors be informed of the resolution?

    Regards, Paul

  27. Hugh

    Twice I enquired about the ridiculous shipping rate from North Carolina, US to just across the border of Ontario, Canada with the following question: “I need to know why shipping fees to Canada (ground) have doubled lately. It makes buying a book published by lulu.com online simply too expensive for anyone to buy! Please, do explain before I decide to publish elsewhere.” No reply was forthcoming. The automated reply simply stated that as a valued customer you’ll be looked after promptly but that this may take some time as they are experiencing heavy electronic traffic. — Yet, when I placed an order, leaving it incomplete purposely, they were quick to let me know that my order had not yet been completed. Makes one think that they never intended to reply to my query anyway.

  28. think that something has changed today, a 444 pages hardcover to Israel shows 11$ shipping as standard shipping. Please check your adresses and report

  29. Andy Moseley

    The cost of ordering 1 book from Lulu might have come down in the UK from £4.75 to £2.99, but since the end of July the cost for ordering 15 has gone up more than 150% from £7.25 to £18.99. How exactly is this a solution to too high shipping costs?

    I have been selling copies of my book ordered through Lulu to colleagues at work, but frankly given the far better quality of copies ordered through Amazon, and the fact that the purchase price is 50p less (thanks to them for discounting the book), the increase in shipping costs now means I’m telling people to buy it through Amazon.

    I would also like to know where the ‘shipping’ comes in for anything I’ve ordered. The books comes from CPI Anthony Rowe in Essex, and are delivered by FedEx in Surrey. Unless they’re coming down the Thames and a canal it seems to me that nothing is being shipped, and someone is making a lot of money.

    This may be good for short term profits, but if it means people end up buying from Amazon instead of Lulu then you will lose out in the long term. Lulu makes less per book in royalty terms and also gets no postage/shipping mark up, so if you drive people away from ordering on Lulu you will lose more money than you make by increasing postage.

    I have always been impressed with Lulu and the fact that it does not rip off authors. I still am, on the whole, but this is an exception, so come on, play fair and charge actual costs with a limited mark up at most.

    Andy

  30. Bo Blundell

    As a first time user of Lulu, I have been trying for an hour to find approximate shipping costs on this web-site. Having (finally) come across this blog, I now understand that Lulu is apparently now too big to give a ****. Michael Chen appears to have made one only response the entire year. Seems like Lulu needs a competent public relations manager and some more helpful management initiatives. No way am I publishing here until Lulu is more open and forthcoming with its customers.

  31. Nick Popio

    Bo,
    Where are you located, and what are you interested in ordering? I will try to help you get approximate shipping costs.

  32. Alan Burns

    Based in the UK, I have recently ordered books and shocked to discover that shipping costs have risen 3 to 4 times.
    Could you explain this please.

  33. alan burns

    The answer I received from Michael Chen was completely unsatisfactory.
    On a recent order I was charged £7.20. If I placed a repeat order I would be charged £20.49.
    As these books are printed in the UK these shipping costs do not reflect Royal Mail parcel pricing.
    Again I would ask for your comments.

  34. alan burns

    Had a reply from Mr Chen. It would appear that over the past few years that quote “a bug that had not been identified before was offering lower prices to our customers when choosing Express shipping method, this bug got resolved”.
    Call me a cynic but to me the “bug” is called “RIP OFF”

  35. Michael Paul Burns

    No relation to Alan Burns! But I’ve had the same problem…come on, Lulu, less nonsense and get your act together. If shipping charges support your cost, increase your charges upfront so that you are honest about it, and then charge shipping at real cost. A thin saddle stitched book I’ve done is now totally unrealistic when every copy adds £1 to shipping charges.

  36. I think it’s good to see a company willing to change, extend and expand their business model to provide a better service to customers and clients and be so open about it.

    Hats off to you guys.

  37. I came here in 2011 looking for a solution to my ongoing shipping charges cost more than the book problem. I hope you haven’t finished solving this problem, since my content says “Only ships from North America” – the trim size problem you were looking at. I guess you didn’t finish looking at it. If I reformat my book to ship from the UK, then I’ll end up with an even messier and repetitive spotlight page than I currently .. which looks very much like the store page it replaced … and the book becomes significantly more expensive!

  38. AJ

    Andrew,

    Thanks for the comment. I’ll make sure to pass it along! This is invaluable feedback for helping make our site even better.

  39. We can help with small packaging shipping, Plantium with DHL they have gave us very aggresiver pricing. I would like help save people on shipping cost

    Vic

  40. This blog posting has completely turned me off using Lulu. I guess at least it is positive that Lulu does not censor negative comments.

    Are the shipping prices still outrageous to many places in the world?

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