As most people reading web comic related sites know, adventuring cartoonist Ryan Estrada recently completed the monumental task of drawing a 168 hour comic. After much fanfare and encouragement Ryan emerged from his trailer with a mountain of comic pages created over the course of one week. He promptly self published the entire enterprise using Lulu.com, a print to order online book publisher. Ryan posted a link to the online store and began telling everyone about Lulu and directing people to purchase his book there.
Well, as anyone who ordered Ryan’s book through Lulu now knows, something went wrong. Everyone who has since placed an order for a print version of Ryan’s book received a cryptic email from the Lulu support staff declaring that their order was canceled. This is part of the message sent out: “Oh my, we regret to inform you that there has been a problem fulfilling your order. You will receive a full or partial refund of your order, depending on how much of the order we can fulfill“. No further details were given.
I spoke with Ryan via email to find out what went wrong. According to him the Lulu tech support person he spoke to informed him that there was a problem with the PDF file he sent in for print. Instead of contacting Ryan and trying and resolve the issue, which seems to be something so innocuous it would take a couple of minutes to resolve, Lulu simply canceled every order made to date and removed the book from availability.
This clunky and odd way Lulu dealt with the issue is not very encouraging. Lulu suggested to Ryan that he fix the PDF file and re-submit it, essentially requiring everyone to place ANOTHER order. Rather than put his fans and readers through another fumble with online publishing Ryan is looking for another more reliable way to publish his book, but that will take some time.
In the meantime, in order to make amends to his readers, Ryan will soon be making the whole comic available on his web site for a limited time.