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July 19, 2005



Bob Young, the cofounder of Red Hat, is the CEO of Lulu.com, which lets you publish and sell your print–on–demand book or music.

Lulu is similar and yet different from iUniverse.com, the online publisher of my most recent book.


I have nothing but the highest praise for iUniverse: they created a wonderfully designed book that looks better than 95% of those I see down the street at Barnes & Noble.

Appearances can be deceiving: I am reminded of the wonderful libretto of Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore, to wit:

    Things are seldom what they seem, skim milk masquerades as cream.

But I digress.

As best I can tell from browsing the Lulu website they offer much more in the way of author involvement in the publication process.

In most cases this will be not to the advantage of but, rather, detrimental to both book and author.

July 19, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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"In most cases this will be not to the advantage of but, rather, detrimental to both book and author."

Funny and, sadly, true. But you omit a couple of other key differences between the two--it is free to publish a book on Lulu, unlike iUniverse. It is also unbelievably quick. You could publish a book now and order a copy within the hour. Likewise you could publish a revised version of your book every week if you felt the need to do so.

And the other key difference from the standpoint of business model is that Lulu has invested in creating a marketplace outside of the conventional book distribution channels, which require middlemen, discounts, returns, etc.--a creator-to-consumer marketplace. So most of the books on Lulu are sold on the Lulu site itself, which allows authors to make more money per books sold. This was not part of the original vision of iUniverse, which adheres more closely to the conventional publishing industry by selling most of its books through retailers.

That said, if you use Lulu and you don't know much about typography you would do well to pay someone to design your book for you. iUniverse provides, as you point out, very professional services along those lines.

Posted by: Stephen | Jul 27, 2005 9:18:15 AM

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