I’m incredibly happy to announce the release of our new Shopify® app, Lulu xPress; the first Shopify® app to provide users with the fully automated ability to sell, print and fulfill their book content! Read on to learn more about Lulu’s newest book creation tool and our first eCommerce App!
Lulu xPress – POD Simplified
You might have noticed some talk of Lulu xPress on our Community pages recently. Or you may have even received an email from us about this new tool from Lulu.
Lulu xPress – found at xpress.lulu.com – is the newest print-on-demand tool from Lulu. It is a basic and stripped down version of the book creation upgrade we’re working on. What Lulu xPress offers is a means to create a book from files (interior and cover) all on one screen. Then to place an order quickly and easily through our existing print network.
This may seem a lot like the existing Lulu book wizard with some new branding. That’s not that far off. The key difference here is the clean and logical progression when creating a book. We’ve simplified the process to make it clearer and easier to know what to do when. Plus, by upgrading the underlying technology we use, Lulu will be prepared to add features, make changes, and offer the kind of adaptability creators need.
Alongside the simplification of the print-on-demand process, Lulu xPress brings with it one additional benefit. Keep reading.
Embracing the Technologies of the Future
A few months ago I posted a blog about what Print-On-Demand means. While investigating the historical and contemporary role of POD in the publishing and print world, I specifically neglected to talk about one aspect of this technology. Integration and the developer tools built around API technology.
Application Programming Interface, otherwise known as API, is the language of the new and easily shared web. API development means when we create software, we do so in line with some basic rules and protocols numerous other developers are also following. The obvious benefit of this kind of design is versatility.
In the fall of 2017, we opened up our Print API with a Developer’s Portal so anyone could use our API on their own website. If you have a website, some coding know-how, and book files ready to print and sell, the Print API allows you to connect directly to our print network and employ our printers.
The obvious shortcoming of this model is the coding and implementation. Not everyone knows how to build a website and integrate an API. I certainly wouldn’t know where to start.
Luckily, starting today you don’t have to.
Shopify®’s eCommerce Platform gets its first Book Printer
We’re doing the integration for you. Because API technology makes doing so easy!
If you haven’t noticed, the tools of the web have increasingly become simple and interchangeable. Think about it: you find a funny GIF online and want to share it with your friends. That GIF, possibly hosted on giphy.com or some similar site, will offer social media sharing links, text messaging links, and an array of other ways to send that file.
All of those buttons are the result of an API integration. The hosting site and the social media sites establish connections to facilitate and simplify sharing. So how do you use integration to your advantage?
I’ve heard it said that if you’re not making money on the Internet, you’re not trying hard enough. With the plethora of platforms available to creators, entrepreneurs, and individuals, it seems like now more than ever there’s an opportunity to do what you love, the way you’d love to do it. Have some chic jewelry to sell? Head over to Etsy. Need help monetizing your YouTube channel? Patreon’s got your back. Want better exposure for your art? Instagram’s 800 million users are ripe for the taking.
Content control is at your fingertips, you just need to know where to find it.
Until now, most authors didn’t know where to find it. Or if it even existed. But with the pairing of Lulu and eCommerce platform Shopify®, the search is finally over. Authors, publishers, and entrepreneurs alike can now sell and distribute their content the way they want to, all backed by Lulu’s global print network and commitment to quality.
What exactly is Shopify®?
Shopify® allows you to store your information in a “shop,” which you then populate with products for sale. Customers make purchases—online, in person, at a store, through social media—and Shopify® provides the secure connection that allows their money to land in your bank account. And for the customer, Shopify® adds a layer of security too. If you don’t provide the promised goods, the consumer has a means to show they did in fact pay.
Online platforms like Shopify® are called eCommerce. I like to think of them as a more user-friendly and personalized kind of Amazon or eBay. Rather than making a page on a behemoth of a web-store, eCommerce brings the web-store to your personal pages.
Many creators of various sorts are excitedly taking advantage of the opportunity eCommerce affords them. Once the challenging task of driving a would-be reader to your website or storefront is achieved, you’ve captured them in a location where the only buying option is directly from you.
Likewise, consumers are eager to buy directly from creators. We all know that retailers take a significant cut of the revenue from creators. When the retail outlets were the only option, this was a fair and reasonable practice. But with eCommerce tools like Shopify®, creators have new and better ways to sell their goods at fair cost, while retaining the majority of the profits.
Connecting the Dots: Lulu + Shopify®
One thing I hear from authors over and over is “this is so much work!” Most times it comes as a lamenting realization. Selling your book is not as easy as writing something interesting or profound. There are a broad and difficult design and marketing aspects to being an author.
Since our humble beginnings, Lulu has strongly held the belief that selling your book should not be a block to success for authors. Unfortunately, until recent years the necessary tools to make selling easier haven’t existed.
I’d be remiss not to take a moment and talk about Amazon. Yes, Amazon is an absolute necessity for retailers of many stripes. Authors more so than most because the Amazon marketplace is synonymous with bookselling.
Getting your book on Amazon used to be a sort of badge of honor. If it was for sale on Amazon, you’d achieved a level of success as an author, right?
Well sort of. But now it’s so easy to get a product on Amazon your book will quickly vanish amid a sea of new books.
There’s a better solution. Creators have been tinkering with these solutions for a few years now. Design a site and a storefront, connect your product to it, and sell direct. No more retailer taking a cut. No more routing your customers to some other site to buy your book.
It’s a modern creator’s formula for success: Lulu provides the printing. Shopify® the store and eCommerce. You bring the content and you claim the revenue.
This is the Future
I wrote a little recently about the evolution of the web and commerce online. The new web, Web 3.0, will be built on a multitude of interconnected and interchangeable pieces. All of this comes from a fundamental redesign in the framework of the Internet.
How content on the web is presented and shared is changing. The old ways of listing on retail sites and selling on a wholesale/commission model aren’t going away. But they aren’t the only method either.
Direct sales through eCommerce and on-demand production put the power in the hands of the creators and not the retailers. Lulu is proud to offer the integration to Shopify® our users need to further take control of their content. In the days and months to come, you’ll be seeing more tools like this from Lulu.
We’re all watching and experiencing the evolution of the web. Lulu wants to make certain authors and creators are empowered and prepared to take full advantage of the opportunities before them.
Paul is the Technical Writer at Lulu, responsible for all the words you see on our site (misspellings included). He also manages the community site – http://connect.lulu.com/en/ – and in his free time, he’s an avid reader and short story writer.