Articles by Harish Abbott

Be iPad Ready with Lulu

Unless you were hiding under a rock today, you know that Apple announced a new tablet computer that also functions as an eBook reader. Speculation about the device has been building for months and the actual gadget is still about 60 days from appearing in stores. So additional speculating, no doubt, will ensue.

But having followed Steve Jobs’ presentation today, here’s one thing we don’t have to speculate about: If you publish an eBook on Lulu, it can be read on the iPad.

That’s because Apple will use the ePub file format, an open standard. We added ePub to our creation tools last year because the format is open, allows flexibility, and ensures that our authors will be ready for the future no matter the evolution of digital devices. It stems from our mission to build the world’s best open publishing platform so that authors can reach anyone, anywhere — and to our commitment to help creators navigate the rapidly changing world of digital content.

Clearly, our authors see value in ePub. Since we introduced the format, the number of eBooks created on Lulu has increased 40 percent. And Apple’s announcement of the iPad today is another win for this open approach.

So if you want to be ready for the iPad — not to mention many other popular devices, including the Sony Reader, already available — get started with your ePub eBook on Lulu today.

Building Selection to Boost Author Success

Dan Brown. Malcolm Gladwell. Emeril Lagasse. They all have something in common with you: They’re on Lulu.

You’ll now find their works — and about 200,000 other eBook titles from traditionally published authors — in the Lulu Marketplace. We’ve added them through agreements with Ingram and other distributors to make their public catalogs available on our site.

It’s a significant shift for Lulu, but one rooted in a strategy to maximize author success that has guided us from the beginning. To sell more books, you need more exposure. We’ve long provided distribution choices to help you reach customers in myriad stores, including Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. We’re continuing to expand those options, and we’ll have more to share soon.

But that’s not enough. The time has come for a better marketplace. Like many of you, we’re discouraged by some trends in the industry and what they might mean for the future of books. Here at Lulu we champion books, and the people who create them, because of what they represent. Books are conversations between generations that convey our best thinking and help move us forward. They deserve appreciation. And authors deserve success.

The open marketplace we’re building will have the broadest selection. It will be a one-stop shop with content from all authors, in all styles and in all formats, paper and electronic. The goal is to give readers access to the best knowledge, ideas and entertainment and to give authors access to the best audience for their works. We believe the increased choice offered by increased selection will attract more readers. And as we attract more readers, we will have more opportunity to get Lulu authors in front of people most likely to buy. In fact, we’ve invested in recommendation technology to help with that by steering readers based on their browsing patterns.

Adding 200,000 eBooks is just the first step in a journey that will unfold over the coming months, one intended to bring more success to Lulu authors every day. As always, I welcome your suggestions and feedback as we move forward.

Why Does Social Media Mean Success For Publishing?

Books have always been about conversations, a way to share ideas and pass on knowledge so that we as people improve with each generation.

Technology is making that conversation better by adding more voices to the dialogue. We see that every day at Lulu. Content that a traditional publisher would overlook is thriving here — books about using Zen Cart shopping cart software, about coaching water polo, about playing games with robots. It all exists because our technology platform provides a low-cost way — it’s free — to unleash ideas into the market and let creators profit.

That’s important. But in my view, technology has an even more critical role to play. It has to help people find the conversations that are most relevant to them. Readers are hungry for new ideas. Authors are eager to share their knowledge with new readers.

Someone has to connect them.

The models we’ve traditionally used are outdated. There’s serendipity, wandering through a bookstore hoping to find something that seems relevant. There are strangers, culling through online reviews or relying on purchase algorithms to see what stands out.

And there are friends. By far, friends matter most. Many of our reading choices are influenced by the people we know — friends, friends of friends, classmates, neighbors. We share book recommendations at the water cooler, over the fence or over e-mail. These exchanges are usually random and not always pertinent to the challenges of the moment.

Some might say the same about conversations on social sites such as Facebook and MySpace. But those sites offer distinct advantages. They allow us to track our experiences over time and regularly share opinions with people with trust. Through those conversations, we have a unique opportunity to make book discovery more relevant, more exciting, more social. Imagine tapping the collective experience of the people who know you best to discover new ideas, to find the book you need at the moment you need it. How much better could we be as a people if we not only had access to all the world’s knowledge but a guide to the information most relevant to us?

That’s the world I imagine and an experience we’re building with weRead.

weRead is the social book discovery tool that Lulu acquired last year. It allows people to connect to others with similar reading interests. It uses our social graph to make book discovery and book recommendations more relevant. You’re going to be hearing more about weRead in the coming weeks — about partnerships and tools that will help connect authors and readers in new and better ways.

I would love to hear your ideas on how we can create a more compelling discovery engine.

Consider this the start of a new conversation.