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Lulu Introduces DRM 222

An anonymous reader writes "Print-on-demand publisher Lulu recently announced that they're offering 'eBooks.' Since they've always offered downloadable books as PDFs, that takes some decoding to figure out what part is new: it turns out that it means now they're handling more formats, they've significantly increased the share they take out of the purchase price ... and for an additional fee, they now offer DRM. I have a few items published through Lulu myself; nothing forces me to buy the DRM, but I'm considering taking my business elsewhere on principle. This isn't what I expected from the people who, when I first signed up with them, were solidly endorsing Creative Commons."
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Lulu Introduces DRM

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  • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Sunday November 08, 2009 @03:33AM (#30019792) Journal

    DRM is not the devil. It is a tool.

    Yes, it's a tool to shut people out of using what they bought. Supposedly it prevents criminal copyright infringement but there is always collateral damage on legitimate use. That damage doesn't stop with the current owner either. In the future there will be entire groups of historians specialising in breaking ancient copyright to get an incite on our culture.

    The sooner we stop crying about buzz words

    DRM isn't a buzzword. It describes an intent to restrict the use of a resource. If you ask me we're not crying loud enough. The boiling frog analogy may not be scientifically correct but it's as good an analogy as any.

  • by a302b ( 585285 ) on Sunday November 08, 2009 @03:41AM (#30019814)
    To be perfectly honest, why use LuLu in the first place? There are plenty of cheaper "Print on Demand" (POD) publishers, including Amazon's Booksurge, which lists books on Amazon. I can't see why authors would accept traditional publisher & distributor markups (typically >40% of the retail price) and then add a retailer markup, all for the privilege of selling a book electronically or via POD on LuLu! Find a cheaper POD publisher and sell it yourself, or if a sales page and distributor access are vital, then use Booksurge or an equivalent, not Lulu.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 08, 2009 @07:30AM (#30020502)

    And, while I'm asking this kind of question, does anyone know of a good place to get hard-copies of books from GutenPrint?

    Lulu is still the best option for that.

    Second best (In the USA at least, not sure where else they are yet) is Kinkos, I believe owned by FedEx.

    Of course you can use your own laser printer and bind a book yourself.

    Unfortunately a laser printer still stamps its serial number on every square inch of the paper, which some equate to DRM (and others apparently equate to slavery, wow)
    So avoiding Lulu for this reason means you shouldn't also avoid all laser printers for the same reason.

  • by Evanisincontrol ( 830057 ) on Sunday November 08, 2009 @10:29AM (#30021504)

    I have yet to see anything in any religion that says "Thou shalt kill everyone that doesn't believe the same things as you".

    There may not be a commandment that reflects those ideals, but it's sure as hell implied very frequently in the Christian bible. Moses was commanded by God to, with his army of Levi priests, slaughter 3000 Israelites who had started worshiping a golden cow at the bottom of Mount Sinai. (Exodus 32). Sounds like God-directed ethnic cleansing to me.

    Later, Moses takes his army and goes to war against the Midianites. After his soldiers report that they've killed every man in the city but spared the women and children, Moses commands them to go back and slaughter all the child and non-virgin women, but to keep the virgin women for themselves, effectively to use a fuck toys. (Numbers 31)

    There's dozens of other examples of God's "righteous wrath" being used as the sole reasons to slaughter thousands of people and destroy any religious artifact that doesn't make God happy. (Hell, even when people are TRYING to make God happy but don't do it quite the right way, he tortures and/or kills them)

  • by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Sunday November 08, 2009 @04:07PM (#30024550) Homepage

    I've been using lulu for several years now. As with most long-term relationships, there are some things I like and others that drive me crazy. In general, however, their positive attitude toward free information is one of the big pluses. They were founded by a former Red Hat guy. They have always offered CC licenses as an explicit option in the menus when you set up your book in their web interface. Also, if you set your own royalty to zero, they do not take their usual cut. (This is what I do, because I'm a college professor, and I feel that taking a royalty raises uncomfortable conflict of interest issues, since I'm using my books in my own classes.) After reading TFA, I updated one of my books to see what the deal was. I have always had my books set so that people can buy printed copies (with zero royalty to me) or just download them for free in PDF format. When I updated my book I got a page like this:

    Makes your content available as a download
    Sell My Download
    Base Price $ 1.49

    The base price covers file hosting, bandwidth, and credit card transaction costs.


    My Revenue $
    Please enter a number between 0.00 and 999999.99
    Lulu $ 0.00

    Lulu's commission (20% of the total profit)
    Learn more about the Lulu commission


    Price $
    Please enter a number between 0.00 and 999999.99
    Give My Download Away For Free
    To account for hosting and transaction costs, we had to add a base price of $1.49 if you collect a creator revenue. However, if you want to give your download away for free, Lulu will waive this base price.

    If you look way down at the bottom under "Give My Download Away For Free," you'll see that they are not going to charge money unless I do. Here [] is the book, as updated today. You can still download it without paying any money.

    I do feel that DRM is evil. I'm not happy that lulu is supporting it. However, their over-all support for free information seems to me to be a lot better than you'd expect from Random Corporation, Inc.

    For the record, here are the things I like and dislike about lulu:

    Likes: They are the only POD or vanity publisher I know of that will let you set up and sell your book with zero initial cost. They handle all of the shipping and order processing, which was a huge hassle for me when I was doing it myself. They are relatively friendly toward free information.

    Dislikes: They have a business model sort of similar to Paypal, i.e., it is absolutely impossible to get a Lulu employee to talk to you on the phone, and very difficult to communicate with one in any other way, either. I have had repeated technical issues with them before, where the printer they subcontracted out to couldn't output a book that had outputted successfully for a long time before with other subcontractors; lulu wasn't willing/able to help me figure out a workaround, although I eventually figured it out myself. College bookstores have reported problems to me where lulu sent them bogus bills ($700 for books that FedEx tracking showed were shipped to someone's house in a different state), and made it an incredible hassle to straighten out the problem.

  • Re:User friendly (Score:2, Informative)

    by Mathinker ( 909784 ) on Sunday November 08, 2009 @04:28PM (#30024772) Journal

    So if I buy one, but have two or more Kindles, I can read it on all of them?

    Yes, you can. You just have to log out of one kindle and log in on another, and you have access to your entire library of purchased kindle books and documents on your personal server space.

    Ah, so after I buy two (different) ebooks, I can read one on my Kindle and at the same time my wife can read the second one on her Kindle?

    Similiarly, you can indefinately lend a kindle book to a friend in Brazil, but only in the same example (log out on kindle 1, log in on kindle 2). Just like a dead tree book, if your friend in Brazil is reading it at the time, you can't.

    The impression you give of the user experience is that while my friend reads this book in Brazil, I have no access to any of the other books I've bought under that login. That doesn't sound "just like a dead tree book". Am I missing something? Oh, and BTW, are you sure that the terms of use of the Kindle actually allow me to give my login details to my friend in Brazil? I'd double check that.

    No, you can't sell a kindle book to a used kindle bookstore. Obviously not, there is no difference between a new or used kindle book.

    There is no practical difference between a diamond when I buy it and when I resell it, yet I can still resell it on a free market. In fact, in most cases there is no discernible difference between a new (dead tree) book and a book which my brother has read (he's really OCD about his books). Maybe you should find a better justification?

    While you can't print out a chapter of a kindle book to take to read at the beach, you can do order of magnitude better. You can take your kindle to the beach,

    I have the feeling that at least some owners of Kindles don't use them while in the tub, in saunas, and perhaps they even might think twice about taking them to the beach. Of course, in the long run, the reader hardware will probably become really inexpensive, perhaps as inexpensive as a paper book. But that isn't the case now. Kindle users who don't take their Kindles to the beach might miss having the opportunity to print a part of their ebook so they could read it there. The fact that you, personally, are willing to use your Kindle in every situation where a paper book could be used does not convince me that everyone is like you.

    and read any book ever. ...

    I am sure there are lots of advantages of ebooks, even the DRMed Kindle ones. I also like (non DRMed) ebooks. My post wasn't about their advantages. If your point is that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages for all reasonable people, you should say that. Because of your intense projection of user satisfaction on the general public, I'm sure you're very happy about being a Kindle owner, and I'm happy for you. You should be aware, however, that your personal satisfaction is not a good argument for this being the case in general.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!