Lulu Lens – How Can We Improve Our Author Storefronts?

One of the things that is most important to us at Lulu is giving our users a place to sell their content and highlight themselves. The author storefront is a place where you can easily display your creations, provide your readers with more information about you, and more! We want to make these storefronts as useful as possible to you, and so we are asking for your input on them.

What can we do to improve our storefronts?

We’ve already gotten some feedback from you on what you want, and we are looking at how we can allow you to easily contact your readers so you can update them when you have new releases or need to give them information, and allowing you to generate your own coupons. Those features are still a ways off, but they are high on our priority list.

What other features would you like to see?

Modular sections of your storefront you can take with you to your personal website or blog?

A search feature so it’s easy for your readers to find content if you have more than a few books?

Let us know what would help you!

34 thoughts on “Lulu Lens – How Can We Improve Our Author Storefronts?”

  1. There’s very few “configuration” options and very limited instruction on how to manipulate existing pages. I see other author’s elaborate storefronts, but no instruction on how to mod mine that way.

  2. I have a couple of book trailers and excerpt readings. It would be nice to have the facility to upload them or at least be able to embed them the the storefronts.

  3. Coupons, coupons, coupons please!
    The site search function REALLY needs to be improved, not just for the storefronts, but the site as a whole – there are days when it is very buggy and authors complain that their titles are indexed and then “lost” from the search function.
    Also, a separate site for buyers has been suggested before – for people who only want to buy, or for authors who want to direct buyers to buy rather than have the buyers receive advertising material to self publish!
    Also, perhaps the API fuctionality (I think it was called API functionality, where buyers buy using Lulu e-commerce shopping cart but it appears that the buyer is buying from the author’s website) could be reintroduced.
    The ability to organise titles in a specific order would be great. It would also be great if an author has the same title in more than 1 format (e.g. hardcover, paperback, ebook) then the ability to group the titles as 1 title, like Amazon.com, but then give the buyer the choice to pick the format they want to buy would be great. Also, consolidating reviews from one format to another (again like Amazon.com) would be great. At the moment, reviews entered against 1 format (e.g. hardcover) can’t be seen when a buyer visits another format (e.g. paperback).
    Oh, and did I say coupons, coupons, coupons please!

  4. Hi Nick
    My storefront is a bit messy since I have several books:
    http://www.lulu.com/stmichael
    The text overflows and it isn’t box-justified. The covers are also not automatically cut to reflect the actual cover, not including the cut margins.
    The actual book page also tries to load the preview right away, so it takes time for the cover to appear. It would be better if just the cover is loaded immediately first, then allow the reader to click the option to load the preview.
    But I can see that your site has improved quite a lot since I started six years ago. Back then, you didn’t have any hardcover or color options. Now I can actually create my own picture book. So it’s still okay even with the flaws. Not too much of a problem.
    Thanks
    Rodney

  5. The ability to have subpages would be helpful – have a main page with categories of books (defined by the author), and the customers could then go straight to the type they were interested in.
    Bundling books might also be helpful. If certain books are usually sold together (say, a textbook and a study guide), the customer currently needs to put one in the basket, then go back twice to get to the storefront, scroll down to the right book, and repeat the process. If authors could set up a bundle that could put both books into the basket with one click, that would be great!

  6. Elizabeth Elias

    Hi Nick,
    it’s me again. I still have not heard anything and I still need help. (I sent you the refernce number with my question a couple days ago)
    Just so you know, I also sent 2-3 emails with that reference number at the end of Aug (minor issues) but no one ever replied to them. How can I get some help? When can I expect it? Why am I being ignored?
    Thanks for any help you can offer
    Elizabeth

  7. P.S. I forgot to mention that the CMYK cover pics for print are not converted to RGB for the storefront, so the screen colors are off and there is no option to change the storefront cover.
    Thanks!

  8. The suggestions re the embedded videos and the coupons are great.
    There’s presently no way to break down the store into categories. My books and CD’s are aimed at a number of different markets but they end up on one long page. Any web store I’ve seen and/or worked on (and I’ve worked on a couple) have this option.

  9. To add to Belinda’s comment above: Need title grouping and ordering. I’ve got 4 novels in a series and now have both US Trade and Digest in each. Would like both to group and sequence.

  10. I would like to see that there is contact with everyone upon their storefronts to let them know of what is going on with their publications. I appreciate the emails that you send when someone purchases a book, but I would like to see more like who purchases a book from the other marketplaces it’s on, too.
    Please, be consistent with your communication and your authors in what
    is going on with their work. This is
    greatly appreciated.
    Thank you-
    Sophia E. DiGonis

  11. Title grouping and ordering for different series and versions – poetry books on this side, fantasy novels in this corner, etc. More themes with variety of column styles. Possibly subpages.

  12. This comment isn’t about the storefronts; it’s about the changes Lulu just made to the product pages.
    My initial reaction is somewhat negative, for the following reasons:
    1. I no longer see a tally of “hits,” so I have no way to tell how many people have viewed my book (or the calendar, though I haven’t looked at the calendar’s product page yet). The hits are important to me because they help me to determine if and when I need to increase my marketing efforts (and how successful or unsuccessful those efforts are).
    2. There are competing publications listed on the same page, which probably means fewer sales for me. I realize that Amazon does something similar, but at least the competing publications are lower on the page on Amazon, not at the same “eye level” as the main product.
    3. The book’s description — which isn’t overly long — is now truncated. Prospective buyers have to click a link in order to read the entire description. That, too, seems like a disincentive to buy. Lulu should be making it easier, not harder, for potential buyers to locate, evaluate, and buy our work (without pitting Lulu authors against each other).
    4. The publication date for the book is wrong (though not by much, and presumably I can correct this information).
    On the positive side, I just took a look at the calendar’s product page, and Lulu did a couple of very smart things: It separated the paragraphs in the description so that they are easier to read, and it moved — and made more prominent — a portion of the description that states that proceeds from the calendar sales will be split with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Those changes reflect genuine thoughtfulness, and I appreciate them very much.
    As for the storefronts, I agree with most of the suggestions others have posted here.
    Thanks for “listening.”
    Jan
    Author, “Formatting Legal Documents With Microsoft Office Word 2007” and
    Author/Photographer, Lyon 2010 calendar

  13. A modification to my prior comment: The “competing” publications really aren’t at “eye level,” after all.
    I have mixed feelings about sharing my product page(s) with other people’s work, but I do appreciate that Lulu is trying to improve the overall look, readability, and user-friendliness of the site.
    Another positive: I like that my calendar page lists “More from Jan Berinstein.”
    I’m starting to get a sense of what Lulu is attempting to do here. Just would appreciate a few tweaks (including the ability to track “hits”).
    Thanks again.
    Jan

  14. First, thank you everyone for your feedback!
    Robert, Tosin, Belinda, Rodney, Carolyn, Don, Bruce, Sophia, and Marko,
    Those are all excellent suggestions, and I will make sure our product managers hear them as we continue to work on improving our storefront offerings.
    Elizabeth,
    I am very sorry you haven’t received a reply from customer support. I will escalate the issue for you and speak to them immediately about getting you a reply.
    John,
    Would it be possible for you to send me a link to an example of your books being listed twice? I would be happy to try to help.
    Jan,
    Thank you for your feedback on the new product pages. We are very happy about the “More from” section, as we know it’s something the community has been wanting. Your feedback about the “Related Items” section, lack of hits, and truncated description are all valuable and I will make sure the product managers see it.

  15. Nick
    I’ve just seen the new product design page (looking better, and the grouping of products – eg hardcover, paperback, ebook if it’s separate – that’s what I’d like to be able to see on storefronts as well)but authors can no longer see the “hit count” on their own products (on the product page) when they’re logged in.
    Please bring that back!
    Belinda

  16. Thanks, Nick. I very much appreciate your quick response and your bringing my remarks to the attention of the product managers.
    Sorry for “hijacking” the blog topic. I just thought it was important to give Lulu some feedback without it getting lost in the forums.
    Jan
    P.S. Another more or less unrelated suggestion: The forum topics really seem random and disorganized to me. I realize that Lulu already reorganized the forums at some point before I joined, but IMHO they still need some work (as is apparent, too, from the subjects people post, which often have no obvious relationship to the forum category). Incidentally, I offer this comment both as a Lulu author and as someone who administers a forum (the WordPerfect Universe web site, located at http://www.wpuniverse.com). Our site isn’t the be-all and end-all, of course, and we’re in the midst of some upgrades ourselves. Plus, the forums were set up by the previous administrator(s). But we do a little tweaking every now and then.

  17. Elizabeth Elias

    Thank you Nick for your efforts. Although I still have not been contacted, I appreciate that you are trying. I’m going to cross my fingers I get some help today.
    Sincerely,
    Elizabeth

  18. I would like to be able to embed video. Now I have a link in a html block with a link to website to view ad video. It’s for our super-saver combo-pack. Some people don’t understand what a digital download is. So we tried to explain what they got in a video. If they are compelled to buy now they have to click back to lulu. It would be better if they could view right on lulu’s site so they don’t have to click away.
    If your interested you can see what I’m talking about here http://www.billygorilly.com/workbook/whatis_Rockin-the-schoolhouse_combo-pack.html
    coupons or promo codes to give customers
    Also the ability to group items such as audio cd and ebook on CD
    I have not found a hits list. That would help with marketing.
    Thanks for all your hard work in making a nice place to sell our products.

  19. Customers are not able to download my artwork to the cart. Is there still a “General Access” bug keeping this from happening? My Photo Book goes to the cart, but not the Artwork.
    Thanks
    Mabel

  20. Following up on the new product page (I’ll also make a couple of comments about the storefronts momentarily):
    My first reaction was that I wasn’t crazy about having other people’s work displayed on my product page because I didn’t like the competition. Now that I’m more familiar with the way the new page functions (or doesn’t function), let me refine my original comment and point out that the “Related” items typically bear little substantive relationship to my book / calendar. For instance, my book is a Word 2007 tutorial geared toward legal professionals; some of the “Related” material includes books and calendars that have titles included the word “Word,” but used in a religious context. Clearly, whatever algorithm or other mechanism is being used to determine similarity between products is rather crude and needs considerable refinement. (That said, I’d still prefer not to have competitors’ books displayed on my product page.)
    In addition, I thought that I would have the ability to change the incorrect publication dates that appear on the product pages for both my book and my calendar, but I haven’t found any way to do so.
    Most importantly, I want to reiterate the need for a hit counter so that I can figure out how to tweak my promotional campaigns. I haven’t had an accurate hit count for several days, which makes it difficult to tell whether interest in my book is peaking, flagging, or flatlining.
    As for the storefronts, it has been a while since I’ve configured mine, but I recall that it wasn’t user-friendly. In addition, I wanted to add an author bio and/or some blog-type posts letting my buyers and potential buyers know about works in progress; it is my recollection that I was unable to do so. I could be mistaken about that, however.
    I’d like the ability to link directly from my storefront to my blog and to add links to other sites that I think might be of interest to my readers, if such a thing is possible.
    Once again, thanks for “listening.”
    Jan

  21. Hi,
    Could you offer a Widget that targets a specific product in a user’s storefront.
    Example: At Amazon Widgets you can select specific book/s and have a widget for only that book or books.
    For someone using a storefront to sell multiple things like books and calendars like me, it would be useful to have specific product selection while creating a Lulu widget.
    Currently the widget lists a long line of products for the user’s storefront.
    Thanks and Regards,
    UD

  22. Have one page on which customers can both download the book or buy a print copy of the book.
    The storefront is OK, but the separate page for a particular book requires the customer to jump to a new page to find the download, and the way to jump to the new page is not at all clear.
    It is silly in my opinion to have one page for the download and one page for buying a print copy. I can’t imagine why Lulu engineers would think that is an improvement. Have a link for a hardcover if you want, but have the download button and the buy-a-print-copy button on the same page.
    The change has really hurt me. I give away free downloads of many of my books because I want to help teachers and students, and now the teachers and students can’t find the free downloads.
    When they Google “Jerry Spinelli’s ‘Stargirl’: A Discussion Guide,” for example, the link takes them to a page that says that they can buy a print copy. Actually, I have made print copies unavailable in an attempt to fix the mess created by Lulu engineers.

  23. Elizabeth Elias

    Hi Nick. So, I’m wondering what a girl has to do to get some service? It’s been over 2 weeks.
    What am I doing wrong?
    Elizabeth

  24. I don’t like having other people’s products displayed on the pages for my products simply because their products and my products don’t match up. For example, on my page for “Mark Twain’s ‘Adventures of Tom Sawyer’: A Discussion Guide” is a book titled “Nude Posing Guide.”
    Also, some books by other people have vulgar language in the title.
    Would it be possible for an author to “flag as inappropriate” these products so that they would not displayed on the author’s pages? Of course, the products would still be offered for sale; they just would not appear on the page of an author who does not want that product displayed on his or her page.
    Thank you.
    I really do appreciate Lulu.

  25. At the risk of belaboring the point, displaying — and labeling as “Related items” — books (and calendars) that bear no logical relationship to the work featured on an author’s product page makes Lulu look unprofessional. In view of the stigma that already is attached (fairly or unfairly) to publishing on demand, it seems to me that Lulu would want to avoid anything that reinforces the idea of self-publishing as an amateurish enterprise.
    Jan

  26. I know it is for internal profit purposes, but it would be phenomenal to have access to our own storefront to drive traffic there ourselves with personal SEOs and SEMs. I have friends in the market but will have to utilize lulu if I want any marketing. Only cuz I dont have ftp access. I know, may be impossible, and less profitable to you- Which already provides a fantastic serive!

  27. I have an angry complaint from someone trying to buy one of my books through the storefront, the complaint being he cannot buy the book without signing up for lulu first. He says he refuses to do so and is irritated that he would be expected to do so.. Now i am worried about how many sales I may have lost from people to felt the same way but didnt take the time to chastise me… I hadnt realized that this obstacle existed until now. So I have to ask, why? Pleae remove this requirement from my storefront purchasing process. Maureen

  28. With no html allowed in product descriptions now, how can an author separate out paragraphs in the description?
    I know it can be done (I’ve seen it) but my own book description in storefront is just a single stream of text despite separate paragraphs in the ‘edit descriptions’ bit.

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