What to Expect From Lulu in 2020

Looking ahead to 2020 with Lulu Blog Graphic Header

I love doing end-of-the-year recaps and previews. It’s a fun way to consider what we achieved in 2019 and to look toward what we hope to achieve in 2020. Having a benchmark to shoot for helps all of us work on realistic goals. So what does that mean for 2020 and Lulu?

I promise you this, I will NOT make any 20/20 hindsight or vision-related puns. 

New Decade, New Everything

More than celebrating a new year, we’re ushering in a whole new decade. Here at Lulu, we’ll mark 2020 as a year of tremendous change and growth for our entire company. Why? Because we’ve got something huge coming soon.

Fact is, Lulu—the website and publishing tools—are old. One executive years ago used a bus metaphor when considering the company. All of us, from employee to author to reader, are on this bus. And at a certain point, the bus starts to get old. It’s lacking features like GPS, adjustable seats, luggage compartments, that other buses have. 

The older the bus gets, the harder it is for that bus to compete with flashy new buses. 

I hate this metaphor. But I bring it up because it works in this context. In 2020, Lulu is trading in our old and busted bus for a new one. Which, unpacked from the confines of this mediocre metaphor, means that we’re updating and upgrading our site.

Small Changes Coming to Fruition

We’ve been on a steady course of improvement for over two years. Reopening our Lulu Print API for open access to our print network came first. Then we created Lulu Direct, our Shopify App, bringing self-publishing and ecommerce together into a seamless experience.  

The most significant of these changes was moving our print interface to an API-based design. Doing so (through some technical wizardry that goes beyond my understanding) gives us far more control over the design and function of Lulu.com. Little problems that we couldn’t touch for fear of breaking our site can now be dealt with in a matter of days or weeks. Moreover, we can respond to requests for new features. 

All of which adds up to major improvements for users and our developers.

What it All Means

Simply that, in the new year, Lulu will undergo huge changes. The basic function of our site will remain. You’ll still create an account, upload your file, add your metadata, and publish your book. We’ll still offer global distribution and our bookstore isn’t going anywhere. 

What will change is the technology we use to power the site. And the aesthetic will update to match our more modern website.

We’ve already opened up our new design as a beta site to several users. Feedback has poured in, helping us make informed choices about the development path we’ll pursue. 

This leads to (in my humble opinion) the most significant thing 2020 will bring for Lulu and our users: the technical opportunity to grow. For years we’ve hesitated to make substantive changes for fear it would damage the functionality of our website. But now we’re resetting all of that, meaning we can iterate new tools and new designs based on your feedback.

It’s Already Begun

It’s true. Day three of 2020 and we’ve already started planning and releasing the features you asked for. 

In fact, we made our first change in October, when we added Comic Book and Magazine specific options. Users had long asked for the size to be corrected (as the classic Lulu comic book size was just a little off) and the ability to print on the inside cover. Our old system made these changes difficult. But our API-based platform makes this update a matter of coordinating with our printers, testing the interface, and releasing it to the wild!

Where 2020 Will Take Us

You’ll start to see the biggest changes in the next few months. We will focus the rest of 2020 on gathering information about how our updates are received and how you’re using our site. We’ll also continue to accept your direct input through our Idea Board

By all measures, 2019 was a great success for Lulu. We’re bringing the energy and commitment that made 2019 so strong into the new year. And we’re directing all of that energy toward ensuring Lulu remains the best way for you to publish, print, and prosper. 

And look at that; we got through this entire post without a single glasses-related pun or vision joke. What an awesome start to the new year!

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’ve noticed that the text on the spines of my books aren’t centred anymore. The previous Lulu template listed 6.87 ” as the width of the front cover of a pocketbook, but the new template says 6.875″, and I’ve noticed a discrepancy of a millimetre or so in the length of the PDF of my cover and what the new Lulu site is saying it should be. Have you changed the sizes of your templates? I know it’s small, but as I have nine books on Lulu, adjusting everything is going to be *extremely* inconvenient and time-consuming. Any information would be much appreciated. Thanks.

Paul, you guys are not printing calendars any more?

For what reason did you exclude the Russian language for publishing books on it? Who can answer this my question?

I have over two hundred titles from 30 years of playwriting and I average one book sale a day, which in the world of playwriting is phenomenal. I have been wth Lulu about 15 years. I understand the need to update, but man, this is a total nightmare. My accounts, including money owed me, are gone… all gone. The My Project page indicates that 90%+ of my covers are gone and when I try to “revise” the pages lock either in design or in pricing, insisting that I take a step that I have already taken. And then, apparently, I will need to purchase a copy to complete the replacement of the covers. That’s going to cost me hundreds of dollars. Also, that back cover feature disappears any line breaks for paragraphs, resulting in text that looks hopelessly amateur. Okay… and the Bookstore. Of my 200+ titles, looks like only 5% of the paperbacks have migrated to the Bookstore. And it looks like you will, going forward, no longer sell PDF’s? Because I sell plays, folks tend to buy a lot of PDF’s. All I can say is thank the goddess that I publish independently with Kindle… I have a feeling that’s going to be my only functional publisher for weeks or even months to come.

Given how many bugs I am encountering and the absolute carnage of the data migration, I have to wonder, just how much beta testing really went on at Lulu. Also, I think you should have given folks a heads up to be sure to back up copies of covers. That’s a huge loss for me, because the new template really looks cheesy and you appear to have lost nearly all of my covers.

Yep disgruntled. And the pandemic is not helping. But the lack of accountability is staggering. You carry millions of titles. I can’t imagine how you are going to have to line-item fix 95% of the titles (if my catalog is any indication of the size of the problem.)

I am not enjoying it. My books have been deleted and Lulu has added a completely different cover to a recently published book with a different language. I am completely stressed out as also another book has disappeared completely and I cannot get hold of anyone to help me!

what is going on? My projects are not listed and my book pages come up as error pages. when will this be corrected?

PS It was bad enough dealing with the Word file, now I can’t create a cover. Thanks for nothing, Lulu. I never had a problem using your printing process before. Why’d you have to mess up everything?

And now it’s a nightmare. My almost-ready-to-publish book has disappeared. NONE of the links to my current books work. I’ve used Lulu for years with no problems–and now this big mess. Why change everything for pete’s sake? That’s just stupid.

i have lost all my projects, their history, and links from from Facebook pages is broken… this means i am losing sales.. When we this catastrophic web crash be fixed?

I see the beta site is up now–but I can’t sign or access my account–when will this clear?

Looking forward to the improvements. I certainly hope that improving and shortening your fulfillment times is planned as well. I ordered a copy of my book both from Lulu and KDP on January 9th. I received the KDP book on the 11th. Lulu’s copy hasn’t even been shipped yet. Not complaining as I was aware of the times. I do hope this on Lulu’s radar. Until then I’ll probably just order some to have on hand to ship myself.

I loved the Free Shipping promo. We need more of those, please. In smaller orders, often the shipping costs me more than the books. I’ve got a big order (50 books or more) coming up and I’m just waiting….

Will this improve access by mobile devices? That’s what everyone’s using these days and not having mobile access for product search and ordering has lost me lots of sales caused me to consider leaving Lulu (which product-wise has done a great job for me) for someone else. And BTW mobile access was promised in 2018 for 2019!

I was one of the Beta testers, and I’m hoping you will once again include the ability to have Lulu convert my Word doc to a pdf file. It complicates things if you remove that function. I could never get past that to the cover process, so can’t comment on those changes. However, I have published many personal and professional books, and Lulu’s quality and customer service has always been great.

I love the quality of the books I have published through Lulu! My books are just for my family, but I can present them looking as professional as possible. And as I finish each book, I get ideas for more of them. Thank you, Lulu!

My years of using Lulu have been revolutionary. It has quite literally (an over-used word, but in my case true!) changed my life. Looking forward to trying Beta.
As I keep telling people: Lulu.com is the best thing to happen to publishing since Gutenberg!

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