If you've ever tried to sell books online, you know that it can be difficult to find quality on-demand printing options. Some of them are only in it for the money and don't really help you out with anything else like marketing. Others provide low-quality prints that end up having no chance of being sold. In this Lulu xPress review, we'll explore what looks like a reputable and supportive print on demand option for your books.
One of the biggest difficulties with printing a book (besides the never-ending process of writing and editing before that) is the fact that you often have to purchase a certain number of your books to be printed. This means that even if you can't guarantee sales for all of those books, you're still stuck with the copies in your home or office.
Lulu xPress looks to change that by offering no product minimums on the prints that you order. In addition to that, you receive flexible formatting options, global fulfillment, and quick turnarounds so that your customers receive their book orders within a reasonable amount of time.
Keep reading this Lulu xPress review to learn more about all the features and how authors and publishers of all kinds can take advantage of this print on demand service.
Lulu xPress Review: What's It All About?
As we mentioned before, printing a book used to be a huge hassle. Therefore, many print on demand companies have surfaced to offer quicker turnaround times and lower minimums for the number of books you order.
That being said, many of the alternatives to Lulu xPress still stick you with some sort of minimum. So, you might end up having to order 100, 200, or 1,000 books. Some of those lower numbers aren't that bad, but Lulu xPress takes it to the next level by shipping out every single one of your book orders one by one.
Here's how it works:
A writer signs up for a Lulu xPress account and begins uploading their document files. Lulu xPress offers some solid formatting and book creation tools to make sure that everything looks okay before the items get sold. Although it doesn't seem like you can link this directly to an ecommerce platform (like dropshipping would allow) all you have to do is place your order on the Lulu xPress website, then it gets processed and sent out to you or the customer.
So essentially, you would have to build a website with a reputable ecommerce platform like Shopify, BigCommerce, or Volusion, collect the orders through that ecommerce platform, then jump to the Lulu xPress website to let that company no when orders have come through.
It would be nice to see a direct integration to a platform like Shopify, but the system they have right now is still pretty simple. You do have access to the API if you'd like to get a developer to make the integration.
Lulu xPress Review: The Features
Most of the features from Lulu xPress are provided through the pricing calculator and the integrated printing process.
However these are some of the areas that we have really come to enjoy:
- Global fulfillment to over 150 countries all around the world. This includes the ability to accept payment using multiple currencies.
- Beautiful prints and flexible formats that you can play around with to figure out exactly how your book will be presented to customers.
- A seamless pricing and printing process that is all managed through your own dashboard.
- A printing and shipping process that takes around 3 to 5 business days to complete. This depends on the type of shipping you choose, but Lulu xPress seems extremely fast in terms of its turnaround.
Other than that, you can also choose from some of the product types:
- Multiple book sizes such as Executive, Digest, and US Trade.
- Multiple book bindings such as perfect bound and coil bound.
- Several print qualities such as regular black-and-white and standard color.
- Lots of paper types such as cream and white coated and uncoated.
- You can also choose from several templates so that your books are preformatted and ready to print.
Lulu xPress: The Pricing
The pricing for Lulu xPress isn't exactly simple, but that's because they offer a wide variety of prints, formats, and even calendars for you to choose from. This means that you're going to have to choose product specifications, the number of pages, and paper types before you receive a pricing quote.
Having said that, Lulu xPress has a wonderful pricing calculator on its website to ensure that you know what your books are going to cost before selling them. This way, you can set your margins to get the most out of your sales.
In a moment, we will walk through a few examples with the booking price calculator, but we wanted to make a few things clear:
- Lulu xPress doesn't have any monthly fees.
- Lulu xPress doesn't seem to have any hidden fees either.
- All of the shipping costs are shown to you so that you can factor these into your own rates.
- It doesn't look like Lulu xPress offers any type of free trial, but this isn't necessary because there is no payment to start off with.
- Lulu xPress doesn't have any book sale minimums, so you're not committing to any upfront costs at all.
Now, let's walk through an example of the pricing calculator by typing in information about a mock book I want to upload and sell:
I'm going to choose my project type to start off. The only two options are books and calendars, so for this example, it makes sense that I'm going to go with the book.
The next field you have to fill in is called Trim Size. By default, the website has US Trade (6 x 9″/154 x 229mm) selected. However, I currently count about 14 other trim sizes such as Executive, US Letter, and Pocketbook.
For this example, I'm going with the default of US Trade.
Up next is the number of pages. A 50,000 word book should come out to around 200 pages, so that's what I'm going to type in for now.
After that, I'm selecting an interior color of black-and-white standard, a paper type of 60# uncoated cream, and a binding type of perfect bound. Finally, the cover finish is going to be glossy for this experiment.
The result is a cost per book of $4.05. This sounds pretty darn cheap for a physical book print that I don't have to pay any other middlemen for.
Although one of the advantages of Lulu xPress is the no minimum order, the company does still have volume discount rates that you can check for improving your margins even more. For example, 30 to 59 books ordered will get you a 5% discount and over 300 books ordered will get you a 20% discount.
It's also important to consider shipping in your overall cost. A shipping cost calculator is also included on the website, where you can type in the number of copies you plan on ordering. After that, you specify the country in which are shipping to and then choose the shipping method.
For this tutorial, I selected that one copy be sent to a location in the United States. That revealed all of my shipping methods, of which I chose the cheapest and slowest one. That added $3.99 to my overall cost. The overall shipping cost goes up as you add more copies, but the per copy shipping rate goes down. You also get some volume discounts added as you reach those thresholds we discussed.
Once all of this is said and done you can click on the Create Your Book button to proceed with the creation process.
Lulu xPress Customer Support
The customer support from Lulu xPress seems pretty impressive. You can contact the support team through email or phone. They have a United States phone number as well as an international phone number. The order support is only available from Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM Eastern Standard Time.
You also might find that the FAQ page is a great place to research some of your own problems and figure out what might have gone wrong with your current order or your print.
Lulu xPress has a thriving community on its forum if you would like to speak with other people using the service. You may also consider looking into the toolkit or Developers page to get more customization options. For instance, if you have a developer, you can ask them to use the API to integrate with your website. Other than that, Lulu xPress has social media presences if you would like to contact them through those pages.
Who Should Consider Lulu xPress for Their Online Store?
It's very clear who should consider Lulu xPress. You're only going to go with this on-demand printer if you plan on selling books or calendars online. We especially like it for those who may be set up with other on-demand printers and want to push their costs lower, get books shipped to multiple countries, and ship out in a reasonable time.
If you have any questions about this Lulu xPress review please let us know in the comments section below.