Friday, June 17, 2011

Strange Things Are Afoot at the Double Ell

I received an email yesterday from Lulu.com informing me that they “must retire certain products and services that have not proven to be as popular with our community of customers as we initially thought they'd be. As a result, we will no longer be offering your Multimedia for sale on Lulu.com.” Maybe you got one too.

The short of it is that Lulu will no longer support and sell digital projects such as CDs, DVDs, images, and (here’s what affects me) “digital files.” This means that all the various PDFs I have on Lulu will removed after September 18th. This confused the hell out of me at first, but I now see that they're trying to push these projects into an eBook format.

Lulu offers a free eBook Wizard service to convert PDFs and other files into that format, and it seems that I’ve successfully managed to convert the two PDFs I’ve used as trials. I’ll admit that I’m not quite up to speed on the differences (if any) between PDFs and the various eBook formats and readers so I’m not certain what this going to mean down the line. In a perfect scenario, all my PDFs will convert, you’ll be able to read them in whatever format you choose, and I’ll just have to alter the links to the new eBook versions and we’ll all get along fine.

The worst case is things go all pear-shaped and I have to stop selling my books via Lulu completely, which would likely mean that I start investigating other options like going through RPGNow or perhaps even another game publisher.

I’m not going to sweat this too much at the moment as I’ve got other irons in the fire and a few months to worry about it, but I thought I’d bring it up now to keep you all abreast of possible changes in the future. If you haven’t bought or downloaded any of the various Stonehell PDFs but keep meaning to, my suggestion is to do so before July 19th, which is the date when the first wave of alterations to the Lulu Marketplace will begin and prohibit the editing of currently offered digital files. After that, I can’t be confident what will happen over there at Lulu.

You will all be informed as more on this develops.

8 comments:

Neil said...

Yikes, that sucks!

I'm a big fan of ebooks but even I'm far from convinced they are suitable for RPG products. The fact that "pages" don't exist in ebook file formats makes page references impossible.

PDF is still the best format for anyone tho wants control on how their product looks.

- Neil.

Dan of Earth said...

I think it's free and easy these days to setup with RPGnow. But I wouldn't sign on as exclusive so you can offer your PDFs anywhere else you have the opportunity. Just my 2 cents.

Rob Conley said...

well that sucks. Thanks for letting us know.

Matt said...

Haven't gotten that note yet, but I did get the "we're converting some files for you" thing, and they converted three NODs to e-book. Hmmm - I've been flirting with going to RPGNow - think I'll have to sign those papers and get rolling.

5stonegames said...

If you expect your products to be usable in the future, putting them in some proprietary Lulu control wear format is unwise.

You would be be better off with drive thru (RPG Now) or E23 or whoever

Heck unless watermarking is key to a business strategy you could just set up a pay pal account and E Mail them directly if they aren't too large and keep the money yourself.

You'd need decent records but keeping a list of a few hundred names and E Mails is trivial.

Freebies can of course be put on something like Mediafire or Megauload w/o an issue as well.

Joseph said...

That certainly blows. Unless there's some way of opening up those ebook format documents on my computer, Lulu just got a lot less attractive. I neither have nor have any interest in getting, a ebook reader.

Pat said...

Weird. I just published as PDF and didn't get any emails or such. I saw the ebook options and ignored them when I published.

Astronut said...

Joseph said...

"Unless there's some way of opening up those ebook format documents on my computer, Lulu just got a lot less attractive."

There is, and it's free. Calibre (calibre-ebook.com) is a program that manages ebooks of all formats (including PDFs) on a PC, allowing you to catalogue in your own format. It's supposed to be like iTunes or WMP, in that you control what goes on your reader, but it includes a multi-format program to read the files onscreen. I use it to keep track of the hundreds of PDFs I acquired through the Drivethru appeals last year! The only downside is that it's very slow to start up on a netbook.

There are several other free programs that will read ebooks for you as well. (Search 'ebook reader windows' - or pc or Mac or whatever - it's not a proprietary format.)