What’s New At Lulu? Literally, Everything

Lulu Site Update Blog Graphic

Back in 2002, Lulu founder Bob Young had a vision. To make publishing accessible for anyone and everyone. Since then, Lulu has gone through many iterations in an effort to help realize that vision. And in 2020, we’re moving to help make publishing even more accessible with the most ambitious Lulu site update ever.

That’s right, Lulu launched a complete, top to bottom, cover to cover redesign of our self-publishing platform and independent bookstore.

What’s New With This Lulu Site Update?

Literally, everything. 

I’m going to highlight a few of the new features I’m most excited about. I’ll also drop a link to our full rundown of new features and a few old ones we removed at the end. Without further ado, let’s get into what’s new at Lulu!

Publishing Your Book

So this is kind of the most important part, right? The essentials are the same as ever; you add the metadata (title, author, ISBN, copyright, description, etc.), upload the file, and either create or upload a cover. That’s not changing.

A couple of things are though. First and most importantly, we’ve made the entire process easier to navigate. You can move forward and backward through the steps. If your cover is still being designed, you can set up every other part of the book. Then come back when the cover is ready, upload, and publish!

We’ve also introduced a TON more combinations of paper, ink, size, and binding so you can diversify your book even more. That includes many additional options that are eligible for our distribution services.

The one new feature I really love is our book previewer. Check it out:

Once we have your interior and cover uploaded, you can flip through the book right on the screen! See how bleeds and margins will look and check those odd/even page alignments without buying a proof! It might seem like a minor thing, but we’re pretty sure this little feature is going to save a lot of ‘bad’ proof copies from being ordered!

Planning Your Book

Speaking of saving your time and money, we’ve had a lot of requests over the years for a tool to help plan your book. Well, it’s here. 

So basically, you can plug in all the specs for your book and see what it will cost to print. Then you can price out a bulk order and see what your revenue can be for the Lulu Bookstore and our distribution service. No more guessing. No more confusion or unexpected changes. Just the information you need to plan your book from day one.

The pricing calculator is one of my favorite parts of the Lulu site update. We’ve heard from you that this is important when you’re making decisions about how to print your book and we worked hard to make it easy to use but loaded with the information and options you need.

Selling Your Book

We still have the same indie bookstore. But if you’ve ever gone to Lulu and typed something into the search bar, we imagine you were…not impressed. Neither were we. So we fixed that. Our bookstore search actually works now. And we’ve aligned all categories to the standard BISAC categories used across the publishing industry to make it easier for you to help readers find your book.

Three Ways to Sell

Sell on Lulu
Sell on Lulu

List your book for sale in the Lulu Bookstore and enjoy not only the best revenue share in the industry but bookstore quality printing

Sell on Your Site
Sell on Your Site

Sell directly to your audience from your website using our Print API or our Lulu Direct Shopify App automated fulfillment solutions

Sell Around the World
Sell Around the World

List your books with over 40,000 online retailers and libraries, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Ingram, and more

Global Distribution to list your book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Ingram’s catalog is unchanged. Just follow our distribution requirements (for PRINT and for EBOOKS) and we’ll have your book available on global marketplaces in no time!

So what’s changed? Well, if you haven’t heard about our Shopify App, we’re making it easier than ever to sell your book, your way. Now you can tap into Lulu’s print-on-demand directly from your own website. Keep 100% of the revenue and connect with your buyers.

Or you could build your own print-on-demand bookstore with our Open API! Access our print network and build it right into your website. A much more technically demanding option, but for web developers, APIs are vital to making powerful websites without creating every line of code from scratch. 

Creating Your Book

If you’ve taken a minute to look through our new site, you might notice that we no longer convert DOCX files to PDF for print books. I’m sure there are some of your reading this who are not particularly pleased by this change.

I can clear this up: Lulu made our DOCX converter over 10 years ago when there weren’t as many amazing options for PDF creation and page layout. Everyone was using Word and Word sucked at making PDFs. That’s not the case anymore. Word can export PDFs just fine now and there are ample page layout tools you can use to make your PDF. So we decided to leave behind what other tools can already do better.

In fact, I’ve already covered some of the best ways to make print-ready PDFs for you!

We also removed our full-service offerings for book and cover design, file conversion, and marketing. While a lot of authors used these services and had great results, too often we found our services simply didn’t meet the author’s expectations for the cost. Again, we started these services at a time when there were a lot fewer independent editors and designers out there.

Times have changed. So instead of offering in-house services, we’ve created a curated list of service providers we think you’ll love. From full-service book creation to editing, designing, and marketing a la carte, you’ll find exactly what you need to get your book designed exactly the way you want.

Keeping It Fresh

The Lulu site update is a huge undertaking that we’ve been working on for a long time. Being able to finally share it with you is unbelievably exciting! Do you want to know what’s even better though?

This is just the beginning. The old Lulu site was built on some very outdated code, making it a challenge to change anything on our site. Those days are gone. We can develop new tools and bring new technologies to you on a rolling basis now. 

For example, we’re already working on the first major update to come soon. In that update, we’ll bring a better cover tool and calendar creator. After that, we’ve got even more planned!

We’ve also got our Feedback page ready to hear from you! Tell us what you want, what you need, and what you’d love to see! Our developers watch this page closely and use your feedback to direct our own creative process. 

Lulu Site Update Resources

This is a big change. Like, really big. But we’ve been busy creating resources to help ease you into the new site and make sure you still have all the tools you need to publish your book, your way. 

Paul H, Content Marketing Manager

Paul is the Content Marketing Manager at Lulu. When he's not entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person but considers himself cat tolerant.

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Hi Paul, I too keep getting the error message that I need to embed fonts and flatten layout when I upload the interior of my print book. (no images are included in my publication) What is the best way to do this? I have Adobe Acrobat Pro to edit PDF’s.
I see a flattening preview. What settings should I click to eliminate the flattening problem? Any other suggestions on this and embedding?
Thanks, LISA

Hi Paul, How soon will the calendars be available? Thank you, Carol

Hey, Paul. Glad to see the transparency in the upgrade process. I notice all my thumbnails are working now, so that’s very cool, and the data in the my projects page is presented in a much better way. I think once the bugs are ironed out and the mountains of data shifted, it’ll be a very nice site.

I can only wait with ‘bated breath for the historical sales data. But in light of what it must be like to shift decades of projects to a new system — I’m sure that there are data extraction, data conversion and data upload chokepoints and landmines all through the process.– I’m content to wait a little longer. And I’m sure that working remotely just makes it harder.

Looking forward to the end product. Hang in there and good luck to the entire Lulu crew!.

Before I take advantage of any of the new cool features by creating a new project, I’d really rather have data on my CURRENT SALES (which I know are happening because of a recent, high-profile review) and data on previous sales (yes, they date back to 2009 and include at least five books).

Please don’t assume everyone accesses Facebook. Why shuffle us over there when questions can–and should–be answered here? Don’t want to clog the blog? Then post updates in the Support/Help section. What’s so difficult about that?

Paul I’m sure you understand the frustration many of us have at the moment. My personal complaints are not the site but the problems we are currently having which you’ve seen posted on FB and by emails. Not happy with the no retire or delete project thing. This causes too many problems and wasted time. But to be honest the site is not that bad. The book creation wizard is admittedly much better and now that I see the cover creator that is actually very nice. Much like KDP’s. Allowing you to see the books interior and cover together like that is great. I can’t publish at the moment , too many bugs. I’d rather wait till all the mess is over and try again.

I’m just hoping that soon all of my missing files will be there, and all the books listed as general that are in Global will be fixed soon. I think that you should have posted this blog in FB. Many might have understood the cover creator better. I really it. If you do change it I hope you will keep the option to look inside the book and flip through. That’s a great idea. Please forgive all the frustration from but I think you understand.

Very disappointing. Some of my projects no longer show up. Links are dead. Please keep us updated.

To me it looks as if the rollout of the new design was rushed and should have been delayed until the site is in a better shape.
Lots of features that we were used to are gone, like the book preview which is enormously important – how are customers to rate a book? Amazon customers expect it thanks to abundant use of “look inside”.
And other features that are standards by now with other webshops haven’t been implemented (like a wishlist). Lulu is the only webshop that I know where I have to save interesting items in a browser bookmark.

Also, it’s very annoying that whole books vanished from the catalog and that “my orders” has lots of blank entries. In the past, when books were deleted from the catalog and were not available any longer (which is fine, that happens if the seller discontinues a title) I could still see the title. If I now have to backtrack what I ordered when (say, for tax reasons or if I just want to check if I already ordered a title) I have nothing that I can use as proof of purchase. (Other services show a “you have already purchased this item” right in the product page if I am signed in – that’s something that I miss as well with Lulu!)

I have hopes that Lulu will eventually complete the new design and bring back the old features (and lost titles) but it certainly looks rushed at the moment.

Can we still use the old site?

From a publisher’s perspective I give this redesign a 2 out of 10. While the new “look and feel” is nice and the publishing flow is simple and easy to use, there are just too many options no longer available (the cover designer is awful) and too many glitches (I set my language to English but when I go to add a category they’re in Italian). Overall it feels like too much time was spent on eye candy and not enough time on depth of usable features. I’m keeping my fingers crossed this gets solved quickly.

I can’t work out how to get onto my author spotlight page. Can you help?

So Paul, is this why everything has “disappeared”? Whats the deal with my book – it now appears to be
pending” and all previous sales are gone…ALSO, i had to redo my password for no apparent reason. Opened a ticket last week for all this and STILL have not received a reply.

Will the following features lost or apparently lost in the site redesign be returning?
* Preview on Lulu book sales pages, allowing potential buyers to “look inside” to an extent controlled by the book creator. This was useful and surely helped to sell copies.
* The ability to edit the text of one’s spotlight page.
* The ability to specify one’s publishing imprint. My small press name Ansible Editions used to appear on Lulu sales pages but there’s no longer anywhere to enter it.

By the way, my only hardback edition — clearly specified as such in the project settings — is wrongly shown as a paperback in the format/price box on the Lulu sales page. I have reported this separately to Lulu support.

Just trying to re upload my cover, after it suddenly disappeared, has been daunting for my hardcover with a dust jacket. It was hard enough to get it up the first time with the correct size/format. Also I don’t particularly appreciate having a forced price change, as well, so the price for my book has been increased by more than ten dollars, unwillingly. The same photo I uploaded no longer fits the book and there is an black bar across the bottom of my cover which looks far worse than it did before.

Are there any changes coming to Lulu xPress? If so, any estimation as to when?
Some of these changes look similar to what is already offered on xPress, such as the book preview.
xPress still has the issue of only seeing 5 projects on a page. I have 100 projects, and it is easier to see them instead of searching for it every time.

I spent a great part of yesterday trying re-upload my project, since I’m being forced to do so in PDF format. No matter what I do, I keep getting the error message that I need to embed fonts and flatten layout. I’ve done what I can with Word’s settings to make that happen, and still no luck. I get the impression that Lulu has already considered this possibility and decided to force the whole PDF upload only issue nevertheless. I’m sure there will be other users in the same situation but that clearly doesn’t matter. I’m not a fan of wasting any more of my time, so I will be deleting my project and publishing it elsewhere.

Funny, I commented there and was told to check the blog. Very disappointed with Lulu right now.

When will login issues be fixed? I have been trying for 2 days to login and place our customers’ orders. Their books will be delayed because I cannot login and get their book orders placed.

that 95% figure worries me. As of now, only the last 4 books I’ve uploaded are showing in search at all, and two of them have corrupted image thumbnails. New support page says we should log in and check our stuff, but of course logins result in a blank page with a 503 error header. The fluff post above is all well and good, however, might want to be a little more realistic about the scope of the problems in this rollout. People are worried and need some information.

Thelonious Munk: Only your last 4 books showing? Lucky person! All but one of my ten Lulu projects vanished in the site update, and after three days of “migration” I’m still not seeing any of the other nine — one as recent as 2019. I suppose it’s too late to suggest that data migration should have been completed and thoroughly tested before the new site went live.

I’d been trying to log into order copies of my book for a while now and thought it was a problem on my end. Glad it’s not. I hope you guys can resolve it soon. I can’t imagine how much hard work that is going to take, but I’m glad to know you have acknowledged and are working on the problem. 🙂

Not only can’t I log in either, I had placed an order for a friend’s book that doesn’t even show up on marketplace and I can’t verify my order went through. And no, i didn’t get a confirmation email either. All my books seem gone except the very last thing I published. This has shot my anxiety through the roof. Please fix and email members that things are fixed.

I am not very happy with the fact that i had to make a whole new account jsut to get access to upload or publish a book. I would like to recieve an email soon regarding this problem