Articles by Bob Young

NC Amendment One Impacts Businesses Like Lulu

I believe that Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers makes a good statement about North Carolina Amendment One, up for vote on May 8:

“You’re sending a message to the world that we’re not inclusive… North Carolina is competing with the world for business, and we have to be inclusive and open.”

This amendment has an economic impact. As a business owner, it impacts my ability to attract the talented, highly educated, open minded people that Lulu needs. It further impacts my ability to offer competitive health benefits to my employees and their families.

This is not about supporting or opposing gay marriage, it’s about taking the conversation off the table completely. It’s about North Carolina, via its constitution, sending a message that everyone in the state isn’t even willing to have the conversation.

Lulu.com: Publishing for the Future

 

The only way to predict the future is to invent it.

Only seven short years ago Lulu launched what was one of the very first, if not the first, self-publishing sites on the Internet.   Since then, we’ve served millions of authors by helping sell tens of millions of their books.

But what was a great idea then is only a good idea today.  Our success has spawned a myriad of imitators some of whom, I am forced to admit, are almost as good at what we do as we are.   Competition is the least of our concerns.  The bigger trend we are embracing to better serve our customers is, of course, the explosion of eBook readers and digital marketplaces, which are changing the very nature of what a book is.

As you no doubt expect, we’ve been working hard to re-invent Lulu to offer features our competitors have yet to even dream about.   We are moving from a concept of self-publishing to one of open-publishing.   In very broad terms self-publishing is what it sounds like:  we give you the tools and you get to publish your book yourself.    The concept of open-publishing is one where we give you the platform and you are empowered to innovate the tools and solutions that best fit your needs and help you sell more books.  The Lulu platform will be of particular benefit to a new generation of publishers who can create new tools to help authors reach more readers, monetize out-of-print or back-catalogued titles, and grow their customer-base.  We will have several more major announcements coming throughout this year, the first being our exciting new Open Publishing APIs (Application Programming Interface), recently made available to the public.

With our APIs, which you can download and play with over at developer.lulu.com, Lulu is helping a new generation of creators profit by enabling them to bring their knowledge and expertise to their customers more easily than ever before. For those of you who don’t know, an API is like a Lego® block that makes a website or application work. And with Lulu APIs, authors, publishers, businesses, and developers alike, are able to create a new breed of web applications, powered by Lulu, and marketed under their own brand names – absolutely free.

So far, we’ve been blown away by the creativity and innovation we’ve seen in the sites and applications people have come up with. Some of our favorite examples are twournal.com, that lets turn your tweets into a book, and beforeigrewup.com, where you can capture your children’s life into a book and seamlessly share it with friends and family. Since its launch in late 2010, developer.lulu.com has grown to 150 registered developers, 45 applications and is live on 10 sites.

By releasing all of the great features found on Lulu.com such as document conversion, order fulfillment, and ecommerce through a series of APIs, Lulu is redefining the future for all publishers and providing our creators with even more freedom.  Now a new generation of publisher can now offer unique and innovative publishing services to their authors and the audiences those authors serve by using Lulu’s global print and retail networks, our commerce engine that can calculate royalties in a range of currencies all in real time, and our publishing tools that can help those authors turn their ideas into valuable books.

To learn more, or to tell your techie friends about it without having to learn more, visit:  developer.lulu.com

Cheers,

Bob

Sunsetting Some Lesser Used Lulu Products

Lulu’s mission has been, and continues to be, to help our authors sell more books.   Our continuing growth and success allow us to roll out ever more useful products and services, like our Open Publishing APIs, that help our customers gain even more traction for their works, in more markets around the world.

In order to add great new services we need to retire those products and services that have not proven to be as popular with our community of customers as we thought they might be when we launched them.

Specifically, this means we will no longer be offering CDs, DVDs, brochures, images, or digital files for sale on Lulu.com.

While we still see the value in these types of content, and greatly appreciate our creators’ contribution of these products to the Lulu catalogue over the years, these products will be phased out over the next few months.  We will reach out to the Lulu creators who have relied on these services with advice and recommendations for their products, to minimize any inconvenience this change may cause for them or their customers.  If you have ever used one of these services you can expect to hear from us shortly.

In our mission to provide the world’s first, and best, open-publishing platform, we are committed to empowering a new generation of creators to publish and sell their content anywhere, anytime. Through our growing network of retail distributors, open publishing APIs, and partnerships, we are building Lulu into a one-stop shop for authors, publishers, developers, and businesses alike.

Cheers,

Bob

Market Your Prose Like the Pros with the New Discount Manager

This week we released a powerful new tool to help authors sell more books in their most profitable sales channel — Lulu.com.   The new Discount Manager gives you the ability to set discounts on your books across our site, either in the publishing wizard or directly from the “My Lulu” dashboard.

With this tool (learn more about it here) you set your book’s list price as you always have and then set a discount to that list price to be shown alongside the list price.  This is a powerful combination employed by marketers in all kinds of industries to successfully attract buyers.

Help Us Stay Vigilant

Slashdot is pointing out that it is possible, and occasionally does happen, that some scoundrel will steal content and try to sell it on Lulu in direct violation of our terms and conditions. (See the third paragraph of our member agreement.) While we’re still investigating the specifics of this particular incident, plagiarism and other content issues cause trouble for almost all public Internet sites — Slashdot has even been the victim of questionable or inaccurate content from time to time.

The Internet’s and Lulu’s best defense against the dishonest among us is to harness the 99 percent of honest Internet users to monitor and notify us of any illegally posted material as soon as they see it. That’s why we fully endorse Slashdot’s efforts to remind us all “the price of honesty is eternal vigilance” (with apologies to Wendell Phillips).

If you ever find questionable content on Lulu, do not hesitate to click the “Report This Content to Lulu” link at the bottom of every content page or email us at questionablecontent@lulu.com. We will always act swiftly to protect the intellectual property and hard work of authors.

Lulu Authors Sell More Books Thanks to John Grisham

BOOKeditedThe world’s readers are better off now than they were a month ago.

Why? Because more of them are finding the remarkable works of Lulu authors.

Back in April we expanded the Lulu Marketplace with more than 700,000 traditionally published titles (including works from John Grisham) to bring a bigger audience to Lulu.com. As I explained then, the goal of this and other initiatives we have underway is to help our authors sell more while introducing buyers to a bigger and better world of content.

Some early numbers since we expanded the selection of books available on Lulu.com show the strategy is working:

  • Sales of titles by Lulu authors have increased 14% in the days since we added the additional selection compared with the prior period.
  • That’s due, in part, to that fact that readers are spending more time browsing our site. We’ve seen a 25% increase in page views of Lulu content since we added the traditionally published titles.
  • About 50% of these buyers of traditionally published books are completely new to Lulu.
  • This new and expanding audience benefits Lulu authors, because 60% of the customers who bought a traditionally published title also bought a book penned by a Lulu author. 
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Bringing You a Bigger Audience

You are the future.

Your knowledge and ideas are the building blocks for the next generation, the foundation that ensures we continue to progress as a society. You need ever-better ways to share your knowledge and reach more people — and you deserve ever-better incentives to do so.

Lulu is working to open publishing to everyone, to create best-in-class tools so you can make just about anything and reach anyone. Whether you are an individual, publisher, educator, or enterprise — and whether you write technical manuals or romance novels — our goal is simple: to give you the most opportunities to share and profit from your remarkable ideas, knowledge and stories.

We are launching a significant initiative in the effort.

Beginning today, you will find more than 700,000 new titles in the Lulu Marketplace, titles as diverse as Harlan Coben’s Caught from the list of New York Times bestsellers to Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. This follows the addition of more than 200,000 traditionally published eBooks that we added in November. In the coming weeks, we’ll add more content through additional partnerships as we make Lulu.com the world’s premier destination for published knowledge, ideas and expression. In effect, we are creating the world’s biggest bookstore.