“Lulu.con!” They Cried

There’s a huge hullabaloo going on over at the Lulu.com web site. This forum thread:

http://www.lulu.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=57591

(as well as several others) outlines the customer response to a recently instated policy by the Lulu administrators to force storefront owners to fix their prices if they have books listed in major distribution channels. What does this mean? Well, before, if you published a book through Lulu, and if you purchased their distribution service, you got your book listed in both the Lulu marketplace, as well as various online retailers such as Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com. While retail pricing for your books was always a bit high, you were able to define your own prices for the books you sold off the Lulu web site. Now, under Lulu’s new policy, any book linked with a distribution service must be priced exactly the same on the Lulu storefront side as it is on the retail side.

Bottom line: Higher prices for you, the reader, with minimal input (if any) from Lulu authors (the new pricing policy was literally put in place overnight, and without prior knowledge, feedback, or consent from Lulu’s storefront owners). In a world where POD prices are already through the roof, this makes it all the more difficult for indie / up-and-coming authors to price their works competitively (anyone want to pay $25 for a ~300 page paperback by an author you haven’t heard of?).

Obviously, if you don’t like the deal, you can opt to publish your stuff strictly on the Lulu.com site, using your own ISBNs (or none at all), allowing you total control over your prices—without the major retailer listings, of course. Unless they remove this feature, or do away with the option to use your own ISBN numbers, which, in my opinion, would shit-can Lulu’s credibility as a viable self-publishing channel.

We’ll see how this works out.

Update: The forum links listed below have been locked by Lulu’s administrators, but I believe this one is still open:

http://www.lulu.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=57646

Please feel free to voice your opinion accordingly.

Additionally, after reading several dozen forum posts over the last few days, it looks like Lulu has been cornered by market ethics—or lack thereof. If Lulu merely sold through its own web site, there would be no issue. In order to get its authors’ books carried / listed with major retailers, however, Lulu has to act as a publisher, and retail distributors don’t like it when publishers undersell them on their respective store fronts. But this is a sort of catch-22, because anyone who’s been using Lulu for a while knows that the author is the publisher, not Lulu. Lulu serves as the order fulfillment service, and, to some extent, the distributor. The authors themselves are supposed to be the ones setting the “suggested retail price,” not Lulu—but because of Lulu’s unique position as an order fulfillment service and (somewhat erroneously) publisher, they have to play by the big boys’ rules or risk having all Lulu authors’ books removed from retail channels.

So, we have a royal snafu, forcing Lulu authors to choose between selling an overpriced book with reasonable market penetration, or selling a competitively priced book—and not getting any retail exposure at all (well, beyond what is possible with Lulu’s marketplace).

I’ve come to the conclusion that this isn’t a detrimental change, but rather one more headache to have to deal with. We’ll see….

* * *

I spotted this article linked from the Slashdot web site:

http://news.uns.purdue.edu/x/2007a/070201LadischBio.html

Wouldn’t that be grand if some entrepreneurial manufacturer started rolling these out in cheap(er) and more compact versions? Ninety-percent efficiency! Of course, there’s the side-effect of having to install a miniature smokestack in place of my air-conditioner, but I figure I’d be doing my part as long as I cut down on the ol’ red meat intake.

I finally updated my dA desktop screenshot:

Dreamworld Desktop

Dreamworld Desktop

The lovely background is by Fernando Rodrigues. Oh, and yes! That is Rainlendar 2 running native under Linux. At last!

This is an utterly haunting image:

The Eternal Embrace

The Eternal Embrace

From the article:

“There has not been a double burial found in the Neolithic period, much less two people hugging—and they really are hugging.”

Menotti said she believed the two, almost certainly a man and a woman although that needs to be confirmed, died young because their teeth were mostly intact and not worn down.

The eternal embrace. Such a prime example of the human condition, once all the love, joy, fear, and hatred has been played out on this mortal plane.

All we really have is each other.