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Understanding Lulu

Lulu’s been around for a long time now. We’ve helped authors, artists, entrepreneurs, and educators all over the world create a staggering variety of books.

From the beginning, the goal at Lulu has been to provide everyone the same opportunities to create content and share that content with their audience. 

Today, I’d like to take a moment to answer a few questions about what Lulu is, how our self-publishing works, and how we’re different from some of those other self-publishing options. 

What Is Lulu?

I get this question a lot. I’m not just talking in social settings (pre-pandemic) when someone would ask what I do for a living. I mean even authors and book creators ask me, “what is Lulu?”

The simple answer is: Lulu is a print-on-demand service provider and self-publishing platform with a massive, online independent bookstore. 

Pretty simple, right?

Over time, we’ve evolved and changed a lot (does anyone remember our ill-fated foray into streaming video?). But the core of our business has always been to provide creators a means to publish, share, and sell their work.

The biggest change over the last five years has been a shift to focusing on enabling creators. We do this primarily by offering an ENORMOUS library of blog content, help articles, guides, webinars, and videos to make DIY publishing easier for everyone. Alongside our drive to provide creators the information and knowledge they need, we’ve also worked to improve the process so there’s less friction when taking your manuscript and turning it into a file that can be printed or used as an ebook.

Finally, Lulu’s core is built around technology. So we’ve begun to expand our technological reach by partnering and integrating with other companies that offer important opportunities for authors. The most notable is our Shopify App, which allows anyone to use Shopify’s storefront to create their own bookstore, fully operating as a print-on-demand seller and eliminating all the overhead normally associated with stocking a store.

Why Lulu?

So once I’ve laboriously explained what Lulu is (and what we’re not), the follow-up from anyone who has ever written anything is usually “why would I use Lulu to publish? I’ve heard Amazon is how you self-publish.”

Once my blood pressure settles down, I do my best to calmly explain the reason Lulu is the right choice for a wide variety of authors.

For anyone publishing in print, our printers are going to bring you higher quality paper and ink. That’s down to the printers—Amazon prints a lot of books and as such, they have to look to maximize their output and profit by using the least expensive product options. For novelists, quality isn’t a big deal. Plain paper and black ink won’t be much different from one POD publisher to another.

But for calendar creators, artists, and photographers (or anything that relies on beautiful images) the difference will be stark.

For creators looking to maintain their independence and connect directly with their audience, Lulu offers some of the best tools on the market. Our print-on-demand network is built on an Open API, meaning anyone can access and use our print network from their own website! 

One way we help authors and creators retain their independence is through our Shopify App. This App uses our API to connect our print network to a Shopify store. Meaning anyone with a book to sell can do so directly to their audience. No royalties to share with a publisher or distributor. Just you, your book, and your audience.

Print-On-Demand, Lulu, And You

At the end of the day, Lulu has a simple goal; to make it easier for you to turn your work into a book. Whether you want to sell a thousand copies or print just one as a gift, we believe everyone should have access to books and everyone should have the opportunity to create books.

There are lots of platforms you could choose to publish and print your book. Or maybe you just want to digitally publish. Lots of platforms exist for that too. 

Lulu is focused on enabling and empowering independent creators; people and businesses who seek to build direct relationships with their audience and strive to maximize their efforts and profits. No other print-on-demand service offers free access to their print API in the way we do, nor are there any other true self-publishing platforms offering the kind of ecommerce integrations we do. 

Because we believe the future of publishing lives with socially responsible, independent creators and sellers. The giants of publishing, be it the Big Five Four traditional publishers or Amazon’s KDP, are driven by profit. They may offer a huge (potential) audience, but that’s where their desire to lift up creators ends. 

A look around the web will reveal ample proof that creators and readers want more. From online retailers who support actual bookstores to writing tools that foster creativity, the future of publishing is in the hands of the creator.

You. That’s you. 

Making A Choice

Finally, Lulu stands behind our desire to enable and empower creators. Period. If you spend a couple of hours reading content on this blog to learn about designing your manuscript and opt to publish with a different platform; that’s still a win for all of us. Because you published. And because there is a wide range of services offering a wide range of options. 

You need to find the right option for your goals and your work. 

If you need a platform that helps you take control of your work, manage and sell it as you see fit, and enables truly independent publishing, Lulu is probably a great fit for you. Likewise, if you need to print one book (or just a few) and print quality is really important to you, Lulu offers easy to use processes and the best options for high-quality printing.

You have a lot of choices when it comes to publishing your work. It’s important that you choose wisely, based on your values, your needs, and your goals.

And That’s Lulu

We’re a print-on-demand publishing platform with loads of free tools, options to print one or a thousand copies, and the best means for integrating print-on-demand into your own platform. 

If you’d like to get to know us a little better, check out our About Us page. Or create an account and print a book! There’s never any obligation to purchase anything and we strive to offer the best, easiest to use platform for creators at all levels. 

34 thoughts on “Understanding Lulu”

  1. Hello Paul,

    Thanks for your prompt answers. I appreciate it.

    Is there a price cap like the ebook for paper /hard copies too?

    If there is could you please let me know what it is and what your (lulu) commission is if I again decide to sell the paper/hard copy exclusively through lulu bookstore.

    My book has approximately 200 pages excluding the front and back pages.

  2. Hello Paul,

    Thanks for your reply.

    My book is only being exclusively sold via lulu bookstore so since technically you aren’t selling through any 3rd party vendors why can’t you allow for a higher price cap since you are in charge of distribution?

    Also I would also like to post more pics about my book maybe 1-3 pages about sample content but it seems you can only post one picture about your book most often times a picture of the front cover.

    1. Hey Olu,

      Whether you opt to utilize our distribution network or not, our pricing cap is in place. It’s unlikely we would break that standard since it creates problems with distributed ebooks.

      You’re correct that we only allow the book thumbnail on your bookstore page. Updates to include more pictures and a preview function are in the works, though I don’t work on development projects, so I can’t give any kind of timeline on when that feature will be ready.

  3. Hi Olu,

    The price cap isn’t within our control – we have to restrict all options to ensure your ebook can be distributed by all retailers. That means adhering to their standards and rules, such as price caps. The high-end of that price cap is $200 USD, so we use that as our bookstore cap as well. This allows you to price an ebook as high as possible while staying within all retailer limitations.

    As to your question about Google search results, the short answer is that Google does include links to your book. But their results pages rank those results based on numerous factors. Add to that the intent of the searcher – if your book’s keyword is ‘garden soil’ and someone searches for that exact term, they’ll see a lot more results for garden stores and such because Google thinks that will be more relevant than a book.

    If you really want to get your book ranking on Google, you’ll need to spend time learning about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Realistically, if you want to appear at the top of searches, you’ll need a lot more than one book-listing on our store. Most first page results will be from websites with a great deal of depth displaying that the site owners have put in the work to create valuable/useful information for searchers.

    Adding the keywords to your book is important (and it does help with direct searches on the Lulu Bookstore), but if your goal is to appear in Google searches, keywords are one small part of a much larger puzzle.

  4. Hello Lulu Rep,

    I would like to find out if one can sell their e-book for over $200. There seems to be cap that prevents you from listing your book for over $200. I believe authors should be able to list their book for what ever price they wish and let the buyers decide what they are willing to pay.

    My second comment has to do with google not returning search results for my listed book on Lulu bookstore even though its not private. How do I make sure that google search results include links to my book.


    Olu Fam

  5. Olumayowa Famodimu

    Hello Daniel,

    I am in a similar situation as you. It seems the price for e-books is capped to $200 per book. I would love to charge higher than $200. I believe each author should be allowed to charge what they think their book is worth and let the public be allowed to decide if they are willing to pay that much or not.

    Also when I set up my book on lulu bookstore I entered several search phrases to help find my book. My questions is are these search phrases only functional on lulu bookstore site? Also when I type the title of my book on a search engine like google it doesn’t show my book on lulu bookstore as part of its search results. How can I make google show my book on lulu as part of its search result when I type the title of my book on google.



  6. Daniel Johnson

    It says on my account that my book is priced too low. So, I hit the button to revise the price. It says I need to complete design…I suppose re-design. But then it says I am not allowed to redesign. So, I have asked 3-4 times for the book’s price to be raised to $25. As it is, it appears that my book is locked into generating negative revenue. In my view, Lulu should just manually increase the price on their end.

    1. Hi Daniel,
      If you’re using Global Distribution, some elements like the book’s size or binding type may be locked once you’ve published the project. That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to adjust the price, just click the Pricing & Payees button in the navigation and make the necessary updates to your list price. Then go to the Review step and republish with the new price.

  7. Yesterday I chose Lulu for my book distribution. The message said it would instantly be in the bookstore. But I can’t find it anywhere. How do I turn off filters, and what do I tell people about buying on Lulu?

    1. Hi Barbara,
      It looks like you’ve set your project to Private Access. You just need to revise the project and select General Access to make the book available in our bookstore.

  8. Hello. What are the shipping costs for a writer self-publishing in another country, such as Australia where I am? Is Lulu still a viable option for me, or would it be better for me to find a publisher here, or do you have printing agents around the world?

    1. Hi John,
      To find the best pricing estimates for printing and shipping, I suggest our Pricing Calculator. Once you enter your book’s specs, you can indicate the country your shipping too and a quantity to get an estimate on shipping.
      We do have printers all around the world (including one in Australia) so I do think Lulu would be a viable option for shipping in Australia.

    1. Hi Azelbooks7,
      We use a ‘standard’ list of languages, though I was able to find some requests for additional languages to be added. I’ve added Chin (Laiholh) to that request.

  9. Why can’t I load a cover onto this site to create a book? It is a jpg (4.62 MD). When I drag and drop it nothing happens? Please someone help, after several hours I’m frustrated!! Jim T.

    1. Hi Jim,

      You’ll need to export your JPG file as a PDF. We require all files you upload be in PDF format – this is to help avoid potential problems when converting a file and it helps you ensure your interior and cover will accurately reflect your final design. You can learn more about cover creation options in our help center.

  10. Hi, I would like to sell my books on Lulu. My books are in Chin (Lai) language, which is not listed on the supported languages. Could you please add Chin Languages to the list?

  11. You guys don’t have a paper sample pack???? My brain just exploded. Every other printing company – even the ones who print on demand have a paper sample pack. it’s just a few pages (1 of each paper quality they offer) printed with the ink quality they offer. This way someone can decide which paper and ink options to choose.
    It’s just such a simple thing to provide for people so they can make you guys more money. Otherwise they’ll just go to your competition.
    I mean you’re telling me i have to order every variety option book just to see your quality. Basically i just wanna see the #60 uncoated paper vs #80 coated. And also color premium vs color standard. So since they can mix and match i have to order 4 freaking books just to see the difference?? AM I UNDERSTANDING THIS CORRECTLY!?

    1. Hi Deja,
      Thanks for reading!
      I can understanding wanting to sample some of your options before committing to a large order.
      I’m not actually aware of other print-on-demand book companies that offer sample packs, but we’ve always hesitated to do so for a couple of reasons.
      First, it is important to remember that seeing a single page at a specific weight/color is not always a good indication of how the final book will appear. There isn’t really a good way to see how a book will look without seeing the complete, final product.
      Add to that the prohibitive cost of binding a book with multiple paper weights and inks. Print-on-demand is a highly automated process. Paper from multiple machines would need to be hand bound to create a sample with different inks and weights.
      I apologize we’re not able to accommodate a sample book, but if you reach out to our team (844-212-0689) they can answer most questions pertaining to the materials we use.

  12. When might I expect an answer to my post of September 16?
    And I have a bone to pick: in response to my earlier post, you provided a link to a product (a calendar with photos of Afghanistan) that you said was “printed on standard paper.” So I bought a copy, just received — and is is NOT on standard paper. It’s on a heavyweight stock. Frankly, I feel cheated, as with shipping, it cost me almost fifty bucks.
    May I request a refund?

  13. None of the suggested books match my project — which is a 500-page text book with occassional black-and-white photos. Your examples are all “full color inside.”
    My concern: will the photos print well on your text stock?
    Thanks, Brayton

  14. Been a printer/publisher off and on for fifty years . . . but for the life of me, find nothing anywhere on your site about using B&W photos on your “standard” grade paper. So I really would like to buy a copy of something that would show me (my client) how everything would look. Any recommendation? Thanks!

  15. About 7 of us want to publish and anthology of our poems… how do we go about this? Can there be 7 authors? Do one person or two publish as editors? Can the anthology be published as both an ebook and hard copy?
    Thanks for responding soon.

  16. in respect of authors purchasing their regular books at manufacturing cost (mentioned in your article) i tried purchasing my book at that price but my money was refunded back to me. have you just started this or is my case an exception?

  17. Joseph R. Alila

    I have titles (3) with Lulu and other titles (5) with Cretespace, and one title with PublishAmerica, is it possible publish my PublishAmerica title at Lulu?

  18. I have a handbook that was written in a class by all class members (including me). I would like to publish this as is for my own purpose, not to see but to use in my office.
    I already have the cover I want to use and so on. All I need is it printed and bound. Can your company do this for me?
    If so what do I need to do to accomplish this.

  19. Hi,
    I have written a book about africa,my english is not very good but a proffessional editor would understand what my book mean and how to sort out some common english mistakes in my book.
    However I would want to know how can I use your website services in order to improve and make my book look well and proffessionally before I’m up for publishing it.Is it possible for me to work on the book the way I want it to look before take it to the publisher?
    Kindly regard,

  20. Carmela Cattuti

    I’m interested in writing an ebook entitled “Reverse the Aging Process”. I’ve just signed up with Lulu. Do I need to write the book in Word? How long is an ebook? Eventually I’ll publish it in book form. Do you guys have a phone? Thanks.

  21. David,
    I’m sorry the coupon didn’t work. Which coupon was it?
    Yes, thank you, we are aware of the activity. We are working to deal with the issue on our end. Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do about the credit card numbers being stolen, since they were not stolen from our site. However, we are working on refunding the cards, and we have disabled the accounts involved.

  22. Did you know that people are using stolen credit card numbers off the internet to buy your products and services? maybe be a little more careful huh!?

  23. I’ve been selling my calendars for 2 years..
    and I recently created a mini book.
    Lulu Sends 25% off coupons but
    THEY DON’T WORK!!!!! i can process my order without it but cannot get the discounts. As there is no way to get a response or have the problem fixed…what is the solution?

  24. 'ö-Dzin Tridral

    Thank you very much for this. We were very interested in trying out different bindings to see what they were like and it took a while to discover books in different bindings – we couldn’t find a ‘search by binding’ option. It might be an idea if Lulu created a largely blank book – perhaps just with page numbers – in every binding. Then we could just order whichever of those we fancy and once we’ve checked the quality we would still be left with a nice, usable notebook or sketch book.
    Could be a best seller

  25. I used to work for A. N. Other POD company and we tried to respond to the requests for samples.
    The requests for samples were so many that it became too expensive to produce the (more expensive) POD books as samples. We tried doing an offset run of books that was similar to but not exactly like the books the authors would be selling, to save money, but that almost completely defeated the purpose.
    I applaud your approach. I hope authors take your advice and invest a few dollars in someone else’s book, as a true sample. It’s definitely worth the investment and, as you say, will make that other author smile.

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