Everybody says they could write a book, and quite a few people do. Sometimes one of those books turns out to be a lulu. That’s a book from Lulu.com, we mean.

This is a Web site that takes on all comers and stands ready to publish their books. What makes it different from a so-called vanity press, which charges authors to handle their books, is that Lulu charges for just the printing and LuLu distribution. You submit the book, and if anybody wants it, Lulu will print it for a cost of 2 cents a page plus binding, or 15 cents a page for color. Paperback binding costs about $4.50 per book, hardcover about $15. The final sale price is up to you.

We contacted someone at Lulu.com, and she told us the company publishes over 1,500 new titles a week and sells almost 100,000 books a month. Lulu makes its money by taking 20 percent of whatever the author charges. It will also make CDs and DVDs of the books it publishes.

An alternative to Lulu is CafePress, which we first wrote about three years ago. Its prices for finished books are higher than Lulu’s, but the author gets to keep any profits from the sales.

CafePress does only black-and-white books and uses color just for covers. Where it really makes its money is on related products like T-shirts, coffee Cafe Pressmugs, napkins, bags, housewares, drinking glasses, etc. It sells these decorated with whatever designs or words you want, which can be from your own books or any source you like. You’ll find all this stuff at www.cafepress.com.


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