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Type Private
Genre Publishing
Founded 2002
Founder(s) Bob Young
Headquarters Raleigh, North Carolina, United States
Products Books, Magazines, CDs, DVDs
Services On-demand print and publishing
Website * www lulu com/en/index.php (archived at [1], at [2] and at www lulu com/en/help/lulu_basics)

Lulu (Lulu Enterprises, Inc. and Lulu Press, Inc. are collectively called "Lulu"[1]) is a company offering diverse publishing and printing services with headquarters at Raleigh, North Carolina, United States. The company is international with staff in 12 countries, and offices in Raleigh, London, Toronto and Bangalore.[2] In addition to printing and publishing services it also offers online-order fulfillment. The brand name is derived from the concept of a lulu as an old-fashioned term for a remarkable person, object, or idea. [3] The company's CEO is Red Hat co-founder Bob Young.[4]

Authors who publish/print materials and similar works through Lulu retain the copyrights to such materials and similar works.

Optional services offered by the company include ISBN assignment, and distribution of books to retailers requesting specific titles (returns are not accepted, which limits distribution to physical bookstores). Electronic distribution is also available.

Lulu Enterprises was founded in early 2002. OpenMind Publishing, founded by Bradley Schultz and Paul Elliot, merged its publishing company and staff with Lulu in the latter part of 2002. OpenMind Publishing was a publisher of customized texts for college professors.



In the past, Lulu described itself only as a technology company[5][6] when it actually offers diverse publishing services for self-publishers,[5] for outside publishing companies,[5] and for other businesses.[7] Lulu operates primarily in five different functions: (1) it acts as a publishing company by offering the Published by Lulu option; (2) as a co-publisher working in conjunction with outside publishing companies; (3) a service provider for publishing and printing needs of outside publishing companies; (4) a tool for self publishers, and (5) a technology company.

Due to the expansion of services offered by Lulu, the company now refers to itself as a “technology company” that offers diverse publishing and printing services. For example Lulu can act as a publisher exclusively using Lulu Services (i.e., having a "Published by Lulu" option). In addition the company can operate as co-publisher working in conjunction with other outside publishing companies. It can also act as a printing press for other publishing companies outside of Lulu. However, the company's most popular and innovative utilization is by offering the tools and the means for individual writers for self publishing purposes.

Lulu's ordering-and-publishing system is automated and open as authors can communicate with Lulu exclusively via the Internet. If the author elects to place items such as books, CDs, artworks, calendars, etc., on Lulu's website "market place", anyone with access to the Internet and who is registered with Lulu may make and pay for orders. There is an additional process and fee for books to be distributed beyond the website to outlets such as and Barnes and Noble.


Lulu focuses on conventional books, which it can print in various sizes, in paperback or hardback, in black-and-white or in glossy full-color. Lulu also publishes magazines, calendars, and other publications. Lulu publishes digital media as well, including computer software complete with instruction manuals,[8] music CDs, DVD videos, and ringtones. Media type options are available to authors — for example, an author uploading a novel can select a type of binding, layout style, and even among predefined cover art if desired, and can set the amount of author margin desired. An author can upload a file in .pdf format (or can choose to have Lulu convert it), and can download and view the uploaded or converted file.[9][10]

Lulu publishes a very wide range of subject matter, ranging from information technology to self-help to alternative topics that might not capture the attention of mainstream publishers. Titles range from the medieval recipe book "How to Cook a Peacock" to "Depths and Details: A Reader’s Guide to Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code".[11] Early on, the top-selling Lulu title on Amazon was Female Domination, a book penned by a mysterious "Elise Sutton" about the practice and psychology behind female-led relationships,[8][12][13] which she followed with The Femdom Experience, on communities of people interested in such lifestyles.[14] Other books deal with serious but niche topics; when interviewed by the London Times, Young cited "the example of a Los Alamos scientist who has written a work that he regards as being of interest to only 160 people in the world and he knows 148 of them personally. 'That community needs this book.' "[11]

Late in 2009, Lulu began selling electronic books that had already been published, with 200,000 selections from authors such as Dan Brown and Malcolm Gladwell and entering competition with and Barnes and Noble.[4]


Authors are guided by menus and instructions on the website as they upload files. Material is submitted in digital form for hard publication. Uploaded items that are not distributed beyond Lulu are immediately available for order. However distributed items require the author to first order a draft and to approve it. In either case uploaded files will be published verbatim and unedited within the limits of the technology to do so. A live, online chat-service was formerly available to help customers navigate the instructions posted on the website, but current growth conditions have made this impossible.

The author is not assigned a contact person such as an editor. This approach reduces support and editing costs and thus provides access to publishing to those who would otherwise not be willing or able to afford a vanity press or find an accommodating conventional publisher.

Potential customers must first create an account with a user name and password before ordering or paying for any item. Lulu keeps no inventory, instead orders are placed in a queue at a contracted print-on-demand printer[15][16][17], in a system referred to as "POD." Printing takes approximately one to two weeks, after which the finished product is shipped. There can be small variations in published material when the job is moved from one contract printer to another.

When a book or project for distribution beyond Lulu's website is first entered, or when it is revised, the author is required to purchase a draft copy and then approve it. The draft copy goes through the regular order process with approximately one or two weeks delay for printing followed by shipping time. The author may approve the draft by checking a box on the 'project page' for the book, or the author may enter a revision. After entering a revision, a new draft copy must be ordered according to the regular order process. This is true whether the revision is one letter, the whole text, or even just the price. This procedure is repeated until a final draft is approved. According to the Lulu website, shipping of the final project (upon order) occurs approximately another six to eight weeks after the final draft is approved, online, by the author. Thus, a book with one revision and one week for shipping, without including any time for the review, may take up to 14 weeks time or more as per the website guidelines.

Costs and pricing

The retail price for the published item is determined based on printing costs, the author's margin set by the author, and the fee charged by the distributor for distributed items. Printing costs for books are correlated to the page count, paper size, binding type, and color or black-and-white print. The author's margin is partitioned into 80% for the author and 20% for Lulu. It follows that Lulu claims no commission if the work is offered free of royalties.[18][19]

While Lulu doesn't charge for uploading material, a number of other fee-related services are offered, including ISBN-assignment, cover design, general marketing, and making publications available through Amazon and other online retailers. Lulu also maintains an online store, "Lulu Marketplace," which offers publications for sale on their website at no up-front charge to the author, collects payments, and tracks royalties.[19]

Lulu offers three different levels of distribution services: "Lulu Marketplace," "Published By You," and "Published By Lulu (formerly known as "Global Distribution")." Published by You is a distribution option from Lulu in which the outside publishing[5] company or the self publisher is the publisher. Published by Lulu is a different distribution option in which Lulu handles publishing and distribution.[5] Depending on the level of distribution, Lulu may or may not require exclusive rights.[20]


Copyright remains with the author. "Published by Lulu" distribution requires a contract,[21] which may be incompatible with open content, such as GFDL, or Creative Commons licenses. For its other distribution services besides "Published by Lulu," however, Lulu offers to use open content licenses.[22]


  1. ^ http://www.lulu com/about/member_agreement.php
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Online Merriam-Webster Dictionary". 
  4. ^ a b Wolf, Alan M. (2009-11-04). News & Observer. Retrieved 2009-11-04. 
  5. ^ a b c d e com/en/help/lulu_basics "Self Publishing - Lulu". Archived from [www lulu com/en/help/lulu_basics the original] on 2008-05-03. com/en/help/lulu_basics. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b Gasperson, Tina (November 18, 2004). "A new venue for selling open source software". (SourceForge, Mountain View CA). 
  9. ^ Fenton, Howard (2007). "Self-Publish or Perish? The Implications of Digital Book Production". Seybold Report: Analyzing Publishing Technologies 7 (5): 7–10. 
  10. ^ Fawcett, Anne (January 7, 2008). "Save face with a pet project". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2008-04-20. 
  11. ^ a b Whitworth, Damian; Ella Stimson (March 8, 2006). "Publish and be downloaded". Times Online (Times Newspapers Limited, London). 
  12. ^ Benet, Jeffree. "READ OR DIE! reviews Female Domination". Think Magazine (Inkybrain Media Ventures, Prague). 
  13. ^ Brame, Gloria (October 1, 2007). "Who is Elise Sutton and why does it matter?". Inside the mind of Gloria Brame.  (some mature content)
  14. ^ Rogers, Wayne C. (June 19, 2008). "Blogs: Women, sex and domination". Las Vegas Review-Journal. 
  15. ^ Books in Lulu's "Distribution" program are produced by Lightningsource, others by Colorcentric. (Lightningsource claim not found in given cite: please give precise source with quotes as needed, or remove) com/static/pr/09_20_04.php "Lulu Partners With Xerox For On Demand Publishing". Lulu. Lulu. 20 September 2004. Archived from [www lulu com/static/pr/09_20_04.php the original] on 2008-04-14. com/static/pr/09_20_04.php. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  16. ^ "Lulu com en UniversiaKnowledge". El Blog de Enrique Dans. January 15, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-20. 
  17. ^ Ellen, Joan (December 15, 2007). [www lulu com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=83496 "Vendors and Suppliers"]. Lulu forums. www lulu com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=83496. Retrieved 2008-04-20. 
  18. ^ Lovell, Jeremy (December 26, 2006). "A Lulu of an idea". Toronto Star. 
  19. ^ a b Haugland, Ann (2006). "Opening the Gates: Print On-Demand Publishing as Cultural Production". Publishing Research Quarterly 22 (3): 3–16. doi:10.1007/s12109-006-0019-z. 
  20. ^ [www lulu com/help/index.php?fSymbol=distro_service&fLangCode=EN "What Distribution Services does Lulu offer?"]. Lulu. Lulu. www lulu com/help/index.php?fSymbol=distro_service&fLangCode=EN. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  21. ^ [www lulu com/help/index.php?fSymbol=pbl_agreement "Published By Lulu License Agreement"]. Lulu. April 16, 2008. www lulu com/help/index.php?fSymbol=pbl_agreement. Retrieved 2008-04-20. 
  22. ^ [www lulu com/help/index.php?fSymbol=license_what_kinds "What kinds of licenses can I put on my work?"]. Lulu. Lulu. April 16, 2008. www lulu com/help/index.php?fSymbol=license_what_kinds. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 

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