Sometimes, if you fill in a retail price or a wholesale price so that the calculator can determine a royalty to match, the calculator will say something like "Min price with royalty: 12.00, without 12.40". This means the price you entered was too small; you may not sell your book for that price. There would not be enough money from the customer, once split between the retailer, Lulu, and the other companies involved, to cover the printing cost.
You must charge the customer at least 12.00, in this example, even if you take no royalty at all.
If you take a royalty, then you must charge the customer at least 12.40, in this example.
The gap between 12 and 12.40 occurs because of Lulu's minimum commission. When you take zero royalty, Lulu takes zero commission, but as soon as you take any nonzero royalty, Lulu takes at least .19 in commission. So, take .01 in royalty, Lulu takes .19 in commission, and you double all that to get the .40 jump. So in this example, it's not possible to price that book between 12 and 12.40.
This section compares the pricing Lulu offers in various situations with the corresponding pricing from CreateSpace.
Besides pricing, there are many other differences between the services each company offers. Each has a different selection of trim sizes, and minimum/maximum page counts for each. Shipping prices vary considerably. Lulu includes a storefront to showcase all your products together, wizards to help construct your book, and various extra-cost services to design and market it, while CreateSpace offers no storefront, just a simple product page, and different wizards and services. But this page only compares book prices. It assumes you've selected comparable trim sizes, and picked a page count permitted by both vendors.
Lulu charges a one-time fee to get on Amazon, other book sites, and in the retail channel so bookstores can buy, via their Published By You ($100) or their Published By Lulu Expanded Distribution ($50) plans. They also offer a free plan called Published By Lulu. It makes the book available on Amazon.com, but not via traditional retail channels, or on any other book site, not even the country-specific versions of Amazon, only the US Amazon.com site and Lulu's own site. Each of Lulu's three plans has its own list of qualifying book types and sizes.
CreateSpace's basic offering is similar to Lulu's free plan, making the book available on US Amazon only, plus CreateSpace's site. As of December 2009, they also offer a retail distribution option ("Expanded Distribution Channel") for certain book sizes. CreateSpace has an optional $39 one-time fee to put a book on its Pro plan, which offers better per-book pricing, and is required for retail distribution. The Pro plan also has a $5 annual fee. Prices under the Pro plan are listed alongside non-Pro prices.
CreateSpace's pricing (without the Pro plan) is almost always better than Lulu's for books sold on Amazon (sometimes by a lot), slightly better for color or short and medium-length B&W books sold on each company's web site (assuming you don't get a distribution plan), and slightly worse on very short color books and very long B&W books sold on each company's web site (again assuming you don't get a distribution plan). With CreateSpace's Pro plan, their prices are better in all cases.
Now to the price calculators.
These author prices are what you'd pay for buying your own book directly from each company's site. First select the book type and page count at the top of this page.
For royalty calculations, two calculators are available. Royalty Finder lets you set the list price and shows the royalty from each option. Price Finder lets you set the royalty and show the list price that would result under each option.
First select your book type and page count at the top of this page. Then use this calculator to compare what royalty you'd get from each option, given a particular list price.
With a list price of USD
|For a book sold||You'd receive a royalty of|
First select your book type and page count at the top of this page. Then use this calculator to compare what price your book would have to sell for, in order to receive a given royalty.
With a royalty of USD
|A book sold||Would cost|
On Lulu, each book has an associated currency. This is determined by the currency the author selects, using the control at the bottom of most pages, at the time he creates or revises that project. A project's currency doesn't change if the author later selects a different currency, except when he revises the project.
Purchasers independently select their preferred currency. If they select the same currency the author selected, the book will show the price selected by the author. If not, Lulu will convert to the new currency using its own exchange rate (see below).
On 13 November 2008, I did some testing of how Lulu pricing varies by currency. I created an 8.5" x 11", 406 page, perfect bound, standard paper, zero royalty book in each of the three currencies, then tried to buy it in each currency.
This is the exact same book, but for each combination of author currency and purchaser currency, I got a different price:
|Book priced in dollars||$15.65||€11.60||£9.08|
|Book priced in euros||$24.86||€18.42||£14.42|
|Book priced in pounds||$25.33||€18.77||£14.69|
So, for this example, purchasers pay a lot less if the book was priced in dollars, and the author is willing to be paid a royalty in dollars, no matter which currency the purchaser chooses to pay in.
I also tested a 9"x7" Landscape book, 300 pages, perfect bound, standard paper.
|Book priced in dollars||$10.50||€7.78||£6.09|
|Book priced in euros||$13.89||€10.29||£8.05|
|Book priced in pounds||$7.72||€5.72||£4.48|
For this size of book, pricing it in pounds makes it much cheaper for the purchaser, and pricing it in euros makes it particularly expensive.
Now, suppose the purchaser is flexible in which currency he uses. He's willing to pay in dollars, euros, or pounds, but his usual currency is dollars, let's say. Here are the book prices above, converted to dollars using rates for 13 November 2008:
|Book priced in dollars||$10.50||$9.74||$9.00|
|Book priced in euros||$13.89||$12.88||$11.91|
|Book priced in pounds||$7.72||$7.16||$6.63|
For this book, the purchaser pays the least if the author has priced the book in pounds, and the purchaser chooses to pay in pounds. But the purchaser's choice of currency has a smaller effect than the author's choice of currency, in this example.
Now, if an author has some books priced in dollars, some in euros, some in pounds, I don't know how Lulu handles royalty payments. Do they convert all the payments into whichever currency the author has currently selected? Send you three checks in three different currencies? Reprice all your books into a single currency and tell you not to do that again? No idea.
I also examined how shipping rates vary based on the currency the author and the purchaser select. First, I looked at the 8.5" x 11", 406 page, perfect bound, standard paper, zero royalty book described above. For this one, the currency selected by the author seemed to have no effect on the shipping rate. Here are the rates to various destinations, which vary depending on the currency selected by the purchaser:
|Pittsburgh PA USA||$6.74||€4.99||£3.91|
Now suppose the author chooses to price the 8.5"x11" book in dollars, to provide the lowest price for all customers. Here are the total amounts a customer would pay, based on his chosen currency and his destination, all converted to dollars for comparison:
|Ordered in Dollars||Ordered in Euros||Ordered in Pounds|
|Pittsburgh PA USA||$6.74+$15.65=$22.39||€4.99+€11.60=$20.76||£3.91+£9.08=$19.20|
So for this book, there's a big price break when French customers order in Euros, and when UK customers order in Pounds. On the date of this test, there was a small advantage for all others ordering in Pounds, regardless of the delivery address, and a small disadvantage to ordering in US Dollars.
For some books, the currency chosen by the author has a significant effect on shipping prices. Suppose an author prices the 9"x7" Landscape book described above in Pounds. Then a customer also using Pounds would pay the following rates:
|Pittsburgh, PA USA||Unknown due to shopping cart bug.|
But if the author had priced the book in US Dollars, resulting in a more expensive book, the customer purchasing in Pounds would pay these rates instead:
|Pittsburgh PA USA||£3.55|
Some rates have gone up, some have gone down, and some have remained the same. So for some book sizes, the currency chosen by the author can have a significant impact on shipping charges to certain destinations, while for others the currency has no effect.
Of course, there are disadvantages to selecting a currency other than the one you usually use. For the author, there's a question of how royalties would be paid. It's possible bank fees to change currencies could reduce or eliminate royalty payments. For the reader, paying in a different currency by credit card could result in credit card surcharges. Check the specifics for your situation before switching currencies (for instance, ask your credit card issuer).
For some book sizes, selecting a different currency can produce lower prices, but higher shipping costs. Consider a 517 page B&W perfect-bound book in A5 size that will be ordered in Pounds and shipped to the UK. If the author creates the book with Pounds selected, it will be priced at £17.36, and Fixed Rate shipping will be offered for £4.28. If the author creates the book with Dollars selected, the price drops to £8.61 when ordered in Pounds, but Fixed Rate shipping is no longer offered. Standard for £9.03 or Economy for £17.08 are now the best rates available.
If the author resizes his book to the similar 6"x9", this dilemma goes away. The price for the book, if created in Pounds, drops to £10.07. The price for the book if the author creates it in Dollars remains at £8.61. And regardless of the currency used to create the book, Fixed Rate shipping at £3.75 and Express at £6.30 are available.
When a book priced by the author in one currency is purchased in another currency, Lulu uses a specific exchange rate. This exchange rate doesn't change very often, but I don't know exactly how often Lulu changes it. In November and December 2008, Lulu used these exchange rates for books priced in one currency and sold in another:
|1 Euro||= U.S. dollars|
|1 British pound||= U.S. dollars|
Here are the base prices Lulu would use for the book specified at the top of this page, if you create it in one currency and someone purchases it in another:
|Customer purchases the book in|
|Book priced in dollars|
|Book priced in euros|
|Book priced in pounds|
This table assumes Lulu's exchange rates are as indicated above. You can enter a different exchange rate if they've changed.
This calculator was created by Steven Doerfler of Lugaru Software Ltd, makers of the Epsilon Programmer's Editor.
The first version was based on a free Excel-powered Lulu royalty calculator by blogger, eBay PowerSeller, and writer Hillary DePiano. Check out her stuff at http://www.hillarydepiano.com and http://www.pricednostalgia.com.
Version 3 of 14 July 2007. Added "Your Lulu.com Royalty" fields, popup help. Removed notice about minor Lulu price inconsistency, as it seems to be fixed.
Version 4 of 25 September 2007. Now handling three currencies. Added links to sections at the top.
Version 4.1 of 27 September 2007: Added explanation of minimum price.
Version 4.2 of 9 October 2007: Fixed bug with computing royalty from retail price using other currencies.
Version 4.3 of 9 January 2008: Added link to CreateSpace comparison page.
Version 5 of 9 October 2008: Major redesign. Reduced many previous tables to just a few. Added support for new Lulu prices. Began integrating separate CreateSpace calculator.
Version 5.1 of 10 October 2008: Added prices for book types new to distro this year. Loaded current 2007 price info from Lulu calculator. Added consistency testing logic.
Version 5.2 of 19 October 2008: Incorporated separate CreateSpace comparison, redesigned. Also updated CreateSpace Pro pricing for color books.
Version 5.3 of 28 October 2008: Corrected some prices by comparing results to Lulu book cost calculator.
Version 5.4 of 1 November 2008: Added link to POD vs. POD page.
Version 5.5 of 13 November 2008: Updated Comic B&W per/page price in Dollars to match revised Lulu table.
Version 5.6 of 13 November 2008: Added Lulu currency discussion.
Version 5.7 of 6 December 2008: Update with current Lulu retail pricing for B&W Pocket and Comic sizes.
Version 5.8 of 23 December 2008: Added the Exchange Rates section with a currency comparison.
Version 6.0 of 23 February 2009: Added UK A5 versus 6"x9" info to Pricing By Currency section.
Version 6.1 of 21 June 2009: Updated discussion on retail plans and pricing.
Version 6.2 of 8 December 2009: Added info on CreateSpace's Expanded Distribution offering.
Version 7.0 of 26 August 2016: Added warning that this page is out of date.