Here at Lulu, we are united by a common purpose: Your success.
We want to hear from you as much and as often as possible to improve our services to ensure you create the best products, have the most sales or achieve whatever goal drives you. That effort prompted us recently to announce changes to our ISBN and distribution offerings. Unfortunately, we unintentionally caused some confusion. To clear things up, I talked with Ben, our Distribution Product Manager, and wanted to share what I learned.
Yes, we are suspending “Published By You.” But in doing so, our intent is to provide you with more flexibility and efficiency in the publishing process while ensuring your work receives the exact distribution you want.
Let me explain. Before doing anything, we talked with the folks in customer service. Turns out, three of our most common complaints were related to our ISBN and distribution services. Our authors were frustrated that they could not bring their own ISBNs to Lulu and have them integrated with their projects, or added to Bowker and other distribution services; they wanted to add an ISBN earlier in the process to eliminate the hassle of uploading books twice; and they wanted more clarity on exactly what our distribution services included and who was eligible for what.
After a thorough evaluation, it was clear that to improve the Lulu experience we needed to make the acquisition of ISBNs and choice of distribution distinct parts of the publishing process. And on September 1, that will happen.
I’ll walk you through the changes.
Previously, we offered ISBNs as part of “Published By You” and “Published by Lulu.” With “Published By You,” authors received an ISBN in their own name. “Published By Lulu” included a free ISBN that listed Lulu as the publisher.
On September 1, we’ll still offer a free ISBN option similar to “Published by Lulu” that will continue to list Lulu as the publisher.
But we know that is not appropriate for all of our authors. So, for the first time on Lulu, we’ll let you bring your own ISBN to your project. Bowker has set up a portal, www.myidentifiers.com, where you can buy as many ISBNs as you need.
Once you have an ISBN, just bring it back to Lulu and plug it into the publishing wizard. We’ll create a unique barcode that you can add to your cover. And rest assured: If you use this approach, Lulu will not be listed as the publisher. The name you attached to the ISBN when you bought it will be listed.
While I’m on the subject of the publishing wizard, I’ll explain one more change. The new “Add ISBN” step will occur before the upload step so you can add the ISBN to your copyright page before uploading and publishing a book. You told us the old way was inefficient, and we hope this change is an improvement.
Previously, we offered different levels of distribution services under the names of “Published by You,” “Published by Lulu,” and “Published by Lulu Expanded.” The tiers and details of each caused confusion.
So on September 1, we’re boiling it all down to two options: ExtendedReach and GlobalReach. To get either, you have to have an ISBN for your book.
Extended Reach gets you a listing on Amazon.com. It’s free, but it is available only to those authors who assign a Lulu ISBN. GlobalReach includes a listing in Ingrams, on Amazon.com, at BarnesandNoble.com and other online retailers. With this service, brick-and-mortar retailers can also order your book if a customer asks for it. GlobalReach will cost $75 and authors who use a Lulu ISBN or who bring their own will be eligible, provided their books meet certain size criteria. Check that out here.
You don’t have to get a distribution service at all if you don’t want one. But you have to have a distribution service for your title to be listed with Bowker and Nielsen, the U.K. ISBN agency. We are working hard to enable listings with Bowker and Nielsen without a distribution service and hope to have a solution to share soon.
As I said from the beginning, we want to do all that we can to ensure you achieve the most success. We know “Published By You” had loyal fans, and your comments here show that. We hope that you find the new changes make your experience even better, but we are also exploring options for Lulu to again facilitate purchase of ISBNs that list you as publisher.
Regardless, know that we are not finished with our work on this issue. We’re committed to constant improvement, so please keep sharing your thoughts.