Should You Give Lulu.com a Try?

Lulu.com

I recently completed several projects on Lulu.com, and overall, I am very pleased with them. The books look very good and the turn-around time is fast. They do a brilliant job of boxing your books: the packaging is very sturdy. I especially like the flexibility of their service: you can place your early orders conservatively and then simply order more books in small batches as you have need. Still, there are a few things I wish I had known:

1. The website is slow and complicated. Everything you need is there. Somewhere. But it can really take a  l-o-n-g time to find out a piece of information or to figure out how to make something work. The company is designed to be user-friendly, and, in general, they succeed. But the website itself can be a trial.

2. Customer assistance is essentially non-existent. I appreciate that they want to keep costs down, but if you have a serious difficulty, it can be tough to resolve it. I had a batch of books that was defective (the print was pale and grainy and the cover was askew). The good news: they resolved it by replacing all of the defective books at no charge. The bad news: it took hours of emailing and explaining and uploading photos, and more than a month of waiting, to make it all happen.

3. The production times expand depending on the number of copies you buy. When I made my first few purchases, they printed and shipped books within one weeks’ time. So I underestimated the time needed for larger orders: it will take two or three weeks, depending on the size of the order. It makes sense that it takes longer to print and ship more books, but I didn’t know that, and it tripped me upat first when I was scheduling orders and events.

4. They have lots of special promotions. It is great to get emails with various specials on printing and shipping. Beware: sometimes their deals are complicated to apply: they have limits or restrictions that can take a while to sort out. But overall, this was a real strength. It is good to get regular price breaks.

Overall, I am very satisfied with my Lulu.com experience, and I’d recommend them to others. How do they compare with other print-on-demand companies? Bottom line: they cost more, but have more resources for rank beginners.

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