Editor’s Note: Originally launched as Lulu xPress, as of Fall 2021 all Lulu ecommerce applications and services have been renamed Lulu Direct.
I’m incredibly happy to announce the release of our new Shopify® app, Lulu Direct; 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 application!
Lulu Direct: Print-On-Demand Simplified
The Lulu Direct app is the newest print-on-demand tool from Lulu. It is a basic and stripped-down version of our book creation tools found on Lulu.com. What makes our app unique is the opportunity to connect directly to your Shopify store.
The Lulu Direct app makes our print network available on the world’s fastest-growing ecommerce platform. That makes Lulu Direct the best way for motivated authors and entrepreneurs to sell directly to their readers.
Embracing the Technologies of the Future
I’ve written in the past about what Print-On-Demand really 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 introduced 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, a cart and checkout system in place, and book files ready to print and sell, the Print API allows you to connect directly to our print network and use 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 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.
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 result from API integration. The hosting site and social media sites establish connections to facilitate and simplify sharing.
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 the Lulu Direct app and ecommerce platform Shopify®, the search is finally over. You can sell and distribute your content the way you want to, all backed by Lulu’s global print network and commitment to quality.
What exactly is Shopify®?
Shopify® allows you to create an online “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 the means to show they did in fact pay.
Shopify® and other ecommerce platforms are giving everyone options to promote and sell their work directly to anyone on the web. 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.
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 a fair cost, while keeping more of the profits.
Connecting The Dots: Lulu Direct + 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 broad and difficult design and marketing aspects involved in 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. Retailers are important for reaching a broad audience, but as you develop fans and followers it becomes important to cut out the middleman.
Yes, Amazon is an absolute necessity. For authors more so than most because the Amazon marketplace is synonymous with bookselling. Getting your book on Amazon used to be a 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.
That’s why we’re offering an alternative.
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 retailers 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
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.
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 Marketing Content 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.