Drop Their Popular ‘Publish By You’ Option

Lulu have today announced further changes to their publishing process and distribution service, which on the face of it, is a further retrograde step backwards in their position as a brand-leading author solution services provider. The core change today is the announcement of the removal of the popular ‘Publish By You’ service. Here is part of the news release below from Social Networking Team Leader, Nick Popio.

[…]“At Lulu, we know that getting your book into distribution channels outside of the Lulu Marketplace is important to many of you. We also know that the current process can be confusing. As a result, we have taken steps to simplify getting your book set up with an ISBN, extending the reach of your book and enabling you to sell more. To facilitate this, we have removed Published By You (PBY) as a distribution package. Don’t worry if you already have a PBY package, nothing will change for you as we will continue to support you and your book(s).

If you do not have a PBY package but were thinking about getting one you can still purchase your own ISBN and apply it to your Lulu book. To purchase your own ISBN visit and create an account. You can then fill out the form and purchase an ISBN. We are aware that Published by You was a popular service, therefore we’ll be closely monitoring the response to this change. We are considering launching a service similar to Published by You that will still facilitate the purchase of an ISBN on your behalf, so if you would prefer something like that, then let us know.”[…]

Having published two books with Lulu over the past two years, I have been familiar with Nick Popio’s presence on the Lulu Forums and commenting here on this site with Lulu news. As Social Networking Team Leader, much of these recent announcements and changes at Lulu have been made by Nick. But Nick is fast becoming like the best mate you have who just happens to be going out with the worse b*t*h of a girlfriend in the world. You just can’t help feeling sorry for the guy every time one of these Lulu announcements comes round the corner!

There is an old adage that holds fast in most lines of business. If it’s not broken – don’t try and fix it, unless of course you believe you can actually improve it. The news today of the removal of the ‘Publish by You’ option for authors—allowing authors to have their own ISBN assigned, rather than one registered to Lulu—means authors will have to go elsewhere to purchase a single or minimum block of ten ISBN’s from an outside source. Lulu suggest, a US based company offering a single ISBN to authors. Critically, the USA is one of the few countries where an author can actually purchase a single ISBN. Most other countries will only sell a minimum of ten, including the UK, where Lulu has a sizeable amount of authors. Yes, in theory, those authors can contact an independent Bowker ISBN agent in the US for one, but it would be interesting to know exactly how much thought Lulu actually gave this before implementing the change.

Here is ‘s special offer for an ISBN.

Single ISBN Number

$125.00 base package


A block of ten, cheaper in the long run for authors, will cost $325.

One wonders if all this is really about nudging perspective Lulu authors toward using the full and more expensive publishing packages. Here is the other crucial piece of news announced regarding a ‘realignment’ of the distribution options.

[…]“If you choose Lulu’s new, free ExtendedReach service your title will be made available on, or you can purchase our GlobalReach service which lists your book on even more major online retailers worldwide and allows brick & mortar stores to order your book.”[…]

On the plus side, there is no doubt that not having to await your ISBN and add it to your book project by doing a revision will help to speed up the product to final proof stage of a book. Somewhere in all of this mess, I do actually think Lulu had the germ of an idea with a view to simplifying the whole production and distribution process. What puzzles me more is the this line in the announcement.

[…]“We are considering launching a service similar to Published by You that will still facilitate the purchase of an ISBN on your behalf, so if you would prefer something like that, then let us know.”[…]

Jez, guys! Wouldn’t it be better to carefully think these things through first before making the change, and then deciding to throw it out to the audience!

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