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Lulu.com - My experience with self publishing (litlift.com)
33 points by dottertrotter 2644 days ago | hide | past | web | 13 comments | favorite

The cost of distributing books is plummeting. The relative value of editorial process is going up, but we haven't noticed yet.

Instead we are witnessing the literary equivalent of Gresham's Law. Gresham's Law is the recognition that whenever more than one type of currency is legal tender, (e.g. gold and silver) the more valuable one disappears from circulation.

Now a "book" is like currency in that it is a token of its valuable contents. Some are better than others, but people buy a book without fully evaluating the quality. Indeed that is the reader's job.

"Old publishing" may be dying but a side effect is that any old manuscript can now be published. The downside is that the "good" books will be harder to find in this democratized world. Eventually we will have to re-create the editorial process of old publishing on top of the new distribution channels. Then readers will associate some e-publishing brands with quality--even more so than today. But it hasn't happened yet.

Gresham's law is usually stated as "Bad money drives out good".

Some of my startup ideas are based partly on the expectation that trusted curators will become more in demand in the future in any area where the Internet is disrupting like you described.

Makes sense. Obviously books are an area where search alone won't cut it. Knowing that a book exists and knowing you would like to read it are very different questions. How do you identify the boundary between search and trusted curators? How do you integrate trusted curators with collaborative filtering? How do you filter out books filled with rookie mistakes?

A similar issue is being worked out in news. Most people would still rather read the NY Times and WSj rather than wikinews. The reason: editorial input. Wikinews is a noble effort but has not got the magic formula for editorial control.

As a former intern at Lulu I'm very happy to see a post on HN about it. Lulu has come a very long way, in many aspects, but specifically in print quality. The UX department while I was there was way more into testing users, and working long hours trying to be as usable as possible than I would have ever have expected.

As a former user of Lulu, I'm very happy to hear about the improvements in print quality and can now move Lulu from "Oh hell no, never again" status to "viable alternative next time Blurb wants to charge me $80 for a 50 page book."

What exactly were your problems with Lulu? I have been meaning to get a hard copy of Creative Commons licensed math textbook made and was considering using Lulu. Is it okay for printing technical books?

The time I used it (which I think was right after they launched) the paper was incredibly low quality and the print quality was lacking compared to what I'd consider most laser printers capable of. This was for novel-type text. This was also something like 7 or 8 years ago. I'm sure they've improved by now!

Likewise, as a former Lulu employee, I'm happy to see them getting positive mentions. They aren't perfect and their offerings have warts (like everybody) but by and large, they have a very nice offering.

I really like Lulu.com. I have published 2 books on Lulu (and 15 through conventional publishers). Lulu is perfect for projects with limited market potential that authors want to write anyway. I use Lulu for things I want to give away free as PDFs and give people the option of getting a print book.

>"What it doesn't do is make it easy for you to understand which section of the cover your actually editing"

Hope he proofread.

FWIW I make these mistakes (homophones) at a depressingly increasing rate; I blame it on dying neurons.

I proofread the book. I guess I should have proof read the blog post.

What would I do then if there weren't silly little writing errors to nitpick about...

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