Articles by Nick

Chat Is Back

You asked for it, and we listened. Our new chat support (beta) is live. We’ve spent the past several months finding a solution that not only responds to your inquiries quickly, but gives you the answers you need.

Beginning today, you’ll find a chat button in the upper right of the Lulu support page. Initially, we’ll offer live support in English from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. East Coast time Monday through Friday. This ensures that we will cover the period when we see the heaviest volume of support inquiries. Rest assured, we’re working on expanded language and time support.

In the coming weeks, you may see a message that says “Chat unavailable” where the chat icon should be. That’s part of the transition as we find the right allocation of agents to meet your needs. We’re working quickly to get agents trained with the new tools, but we wanted to get chat up and running as quickly as possible for you.

Above all, we want to make sure you succeed. We truly believe that your content matters and that you deserve to reach the world. We want to do all that we can to help. Chat support is one part of our effort. Integrating the community forums and help into one platform is another. We’re working on other features that will help you publish better and faster and reach more readers, so stay tuned!

We’re excited to offer this new chat feature, and we’re hoping you are to. We’re eager to hear your feedback, so let us know what you think.

We’re listening.

FREEdom of Expression

**PLEASE NOTE THIS OFFER HAS EXPIRED**

I don’t know about you, but my favorite price is always free. Love and ideas are some of the greatest things in life, and both are completely free. They are also the main components in creating a book. When you love what you’re writing and you come up with interesting and intriguing new ideas, you write great books. At Lulu, our goal is to empower you to do what you love and help you publish a great book.

To help you finish your next book we’re making it easier than ever by providing you with a free copy! If you publish something new between 2/16 and 3/16, we’ll send you a FREE proof copy.

Now, I know you may be thinking – “But Nick, I already published my book and I can’t write a new one in the next month!” Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are some ideas we’ve come up with and I’m sure you can come up with a few of your own.

* Create a hardcover version of your book – If you haven’t done so already, it’s never too late to turn your paperback book into a hardcover. The process is simple, and if we don’t already offer a hardcover size of your paperback, you can always reformat it for the new version.

* Make a special version of your book. For example, you could add photos or illustrations to the book that help highlight the chapters.

* Challenge yourself. Who says you can’t finish your book by 3/16? Heck, who says you can’t write an entirely new book by then? Challenge yourself and your reward is a free copy of your brand new book. You can do it!

* Collaborate with a friend on a book. You can either write something new together or work on finishing up a book one of you has already started. Either way you get to create something together!

Whatever you decide, we want to help. So get started!

Terms and Conditions
Promotion runs from 2/16 – 3/16. Creators are eligible for a free proof copy of a newly published work at www.lulu.com up to a value of $25. Photo books and calendars are not eligible for this offer. Shipping is not included in the offer. Creator will receive a coupon code by email once the new work is published.

Copyrighting Your Work 101

Copyright_symbol_9Something we get asked about a lot is copyright.  As creators, we want to make sure our work is protected from intellectual property theft, and ensure that we control the publication, distribution and adaptation of what we’ve created. The problem is that copyright can be confusing and there are a lot of misconceptions about it. Hopefully, I can help clear some things up and give you some resources for more information on copyright if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

Please note that this information is focused on copyright in the United States. For more information on International copyrights, please check out the links at the bottom of the post.

What is Copyright?

To begin with, I’m going to get the easy stuff out of the way. With a quick Google search, you can find the basics of what copyright is as well as in-depth discussion and even some analysis. As such, I am going to keep this as simple as possible. Copyright protects the rights of creators of literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works. Specifically, it gives the owner of the copyright the exclusive right to, and to authorize others the right to, reproduce, distribute, perform, or display the work. It is illegal for anyone to violate any of the rights provided by the law to copyright holders.

For more information on what copyright entails, check out the US Copyright Office’s Copyright Basics.

How Do I Protect My Work?

New Forum Platform is Live

Recently, I announced that we would be moving our forums and knowledge base to a new platform. In order to facilitate this transition, we will be making the forums read-only so that we can extract the data from the past 4 months and begin migrating them to our new system. We will be beginning this process soon, and we are currently targeting this Thursday morning, 2/11/10. We are currently planning for this downtime to be for only a few days, and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We’re very excited about this new platform and can’t wait to share it with you!
Edit: The new platform is now live!

Improving the Lulu Community

One of the most important things to any company is their community of users. If anything, this is even more true for Lulu. We believe that if we don’t do a good job listening to our users and improving our offerings, then we are not helping you succeed. Currently on Lulu we have a Community section that highlights our Blog, our social networking presence, the Newsletter, Community Services Marketplace, and of course our Forums. As part of our belief in continuous improvement and providing the best customer experience to our users, we are moving our forums and help to a new, unified platform in early February.

As a result of these changes, you will be able to easily find articles, discussions, and more for anything you are searching for. We will be migrating all of the data from Help, as well as the last three months of data from the forums to ensure that as much relevant information as possible is preserved. That said, if there are particular forum threads you want to make sure you have a record of, please copy them into a text document before February to make sure that it does not get lost in the shuffle. In addition, there will be limited access to the forums in the days before we make the transition. We will announce this time period in advance, and we will keep you informed of our progress. We hope this will cause a minimum of disruption and we apologize in advance for any inconvenience it does cause.

Some of the new features that we are very excited about adding to the community are:

  • Ideas & Feedback – You will be able to submit your recommendations for how we can improve the Lulu experience and vote on ideas you like that others have submitted.
  • Announcements – We will be adding a section for announcements for scheduled site maintenance, release notes, guidelines and more. All of this will be hosted externally from Lulu, so if Lulu is down you can still get information about what’s going on.
  • You will have the ability to see your open support cases.
  • You can see new articles and discussions that have been added, as well as the most popular ones.
  • You will be able to rate users, articles, discussions, and anything that you like.

As we roll out these new features and integrate them into Lulu we will be asking you for your feedback. We want to do everything we can to improve the experience based on your responses. We hope you’re excited as we are about the opportunity for us to improve the Lulu community.

Lulu Downtime Alert

We wanted to let you know that we’re scheduling some site maintenance tonight starting at 10 PM EST. Thank you for your patience while we improve the  performance of our site!

Create A Customized Calendar

It may be a little late in the holiday season, but there’s still time to create a personalized gift on Lulu. One of my favorites are our calendars. With our Flickr, Facebook, SmugMug and Photobucket photo integration you can easily find and add 12 photos your friend or family member will love. Add some custom dates like birthdays, anniversaries and the like, and you’re ready to go! Select one of our faster shipping options and you can probably get in time for the holidays. If not, then you can always use them as a belated gift.

This year, I imported a bunch of photos from Flickr to make a calendar for my Mom.  Shh…don’t tell my mom.

Get started before it’s too late!

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Holiday Shipping Deadlines

This holiday season Lulu is providing a list of key dates to ensure orders arrive in time for the holidays. Order with the following constraints:

  • Orders from North and South America and for Publisher Grade Books must be placed before 6 p.m. EST (21:00 UTC)
  • Orders from Europe, Middle East, and Africa must be placed before 6 p.m. GMT
  • Orders from Australia, New Zealand and Oceania must be placed by 6 p.m. GMT + 10
  • Orders must be 25 or less to meet the Holiday deadlines listed below
  • Some items may not be available for certain shipping options in your region. Double check your items in the shopping cart
  • Lulu does not recommend the Mail shipping method and will not guarantee December 24th delivery

Disclaimer: The dates and information provided are intended to serve as a guideline for order delivery by December 24th, 2009. The dates provided here do not imply a guarantee. Weather and unforeseen circumstances may delay deliveries.

The full list of holiday shipping deadlines by country and shipping FAQ! Click the tab for your region of the globe and compare the deadlines for each ship method.

Spread the Word, Win a Samsung SL30.

In case you haven’t heard, Lulu recently improved our creation tools for photobooks and calendars. You can now choose from 46 different themes, add photos to special dates, import Facebook photos, and more. To celebrate these new features we’re running a contest where you can win a Samsung SL30 camera.

Entering is easy. If you already have a Twitter account all you have to do is Tweet this:

It’s easier than ever to publish @Luludotcom! Win a Samsung SL30 and free books! Be creative! http://bit.ly/4y0Z1y“.

Follow @Luludotcom, and on December 9th a winner will be randomly selected from everyone who has sent out the Tweet. If you don’t have a Twitter account yet, you can sign up here.

You can also win free copies of your books. Publish your very own studio project and be as creative as you want, then tweet “@Luludotcom Take a look at my creation!” with a link to your new creation. Each Friday we will select one creative entry to win free copies.

For more information about the contest terms, please visit the contest page.

Digital Rights Management 101

As many of you are aware, Lulu recently started offering Digital Rights Management (DRM) for eBooks. We did this because many of our users requested it and because we want to offer our authors the tools they need. Whether you choose to use those tools is completely up to you. That said, DRM is a complicated subject, so I wanted to try to lay out some of the reasons you might choose to use DRM and why you might not. This will enable you to make an informed decision about what option is best for you and whether you want to invest in the tool.

What is DRM?

To begin with, I wanted to give a quick overview of Digital Rights Management. Googling the term pulls up a plethora of information and I highly suggest you poke around and research the topic further. In its simplest form, DRM is a technology tool that restricts access to digital content. It is typically used by the content provider to prevent unauthorized access to their work.

There is some controversy surrounding the use of DRM because of its use by some companies to restrict the use of content beyond what is covered by existing laws and can be (in some cases) used for anti-competitive purposes. Lulu does not in any way support these practices. Rather, we believe that DRM can be useful for authors who want to control the use of their content. We also believe that authors should be able to make the decision whether or not to use DRM for themselves.

Why You Might Want DRM

As previously mentioned, DRM can be beneficial to an author trying to protect their work from unauthorized distribution. Using DRM, you can control how many times an eBook can be downloaded for a single purchase, and the number of devices (computers, eBook readers, etc.) to which the eBook can be transferred.

If you’re an author who is trying to generate revenue off of eBook sales and you want added protection against your customers freely sharing your content, then you may want to consider investing in DRM.

Why You Might Not Want DRM

In an essay about the digital distribution of books, publisher Tim O’Reilly said, “Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy.” If you are more concerned with people reading your material, and you want to encourage people to share your work, then you may not want to use DRM.

There is no one answer for everyone and I encourage everyone to research the topic. Think about your work and what you want to accomplish before deciding to add DRM to your eBook.