Lulu Clarify iBookstore Options

Last week independent sources revealed that Lulu had signed a deal to have their eBooks included in the new Apple iBookstore. On Saturday, on the Lulu Blog, the official announcement was made with this posting – Get Your eBook in the Apple iBookstore. When I posted on the independent reports about Lulu’s deal with Apple, I noted a degree of caution until we saw the official Lulu announcement. Following Saturday’s announcement, I’m not convinced we have got what was widely anticipated.

“We can help you get any project into the iBookstore, even if you’ve published only a printed copy of your work on Lulu so far. The key is that you must already have a project on Lulu — or publish a project now.

The simplest way to reach the iBookstore is to have us convert your file into an ePub. As mentioned earlier, we guarantee that it will pass Apple’s validation process and we include distribution to the iBookstore as part of this service for no extra charge.

The other approach is a manual one. You’ll need to make your own ePub file and make any necessary improvements until is passes ePubCheck 1.0.5. Once you have that file on Lulu, add iBookstore distribution to your cart as if you were buying any other service. (Again, it is free for a limited time.) We’ll submit the file to Apple for the iBookstore.

In the coming weeks, we will automate more of this process and will incorporate it into our eBook publishing wizard.”

So, firstly, this is not something that is going to magically happen all eBooks on Lulu and it is certainly not an ‘automatic opt in’ process. Authors can initiate an eBook submission to the iBookstore, but they must start a new project on Lulu’s online publishing tools, subject to a conversion service charge of €127.75 (up to 250 pages), €255.50 (250 – 501 pages) and €361.35 (501 – 750 pages). Alternatively, authors can submit their own completed ePub files which must adhere to strict formating rules of ePubCheck. For a period of time there is a 50% discount on these charge and also distribution will be free for an unspecified period of time. This is in my book (excuse the pun), a million miles away from what was anticipately earlier during the week, granted, though, not coming from Lulu.
The posting also lists some online conversion tools suggested could be used by authors, but oddly, to my understanding, eCub and Google ePub Toolkit do not directly support PDF to ePub conversion, and the one listed which does, Calibre, actually lists PDF to ePub conversion as the least preferable choice, with RTF (Rich Txt) and basic txt documents being a more stable choice!
With other iPad submission options like Smashwords, I just can’t see many Lulu authors availing of this service option until Lulu include most of the conversion features into their publishing wizard. I can’t help feeling this is a rushed half-boiled bid to get in the iBookstore doors before they have a fully functioning platform to do so.   

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