Comparing Book Publishing Applications: Lulu, WeBook, Blurb, and Qoop

January 23rd, 2009

When comparing book applications there’s one thing to keep in mind: what’s the purpose. Say you’ve got a manuscript and you want to put it out there, bring it to the world, and for that you may want application that can print it, slap an ISBN on it, and send it out for distribution as widely as possible. What if, though, you have a personal project? Or a few poems but not enough for a book? This is why the applications that we’ve reviewed this week each have benefits of their own.

This week we reviewed Lulu, Qoop, Blurb, and WeBook, keeping in mind that not all users want the same thing, but measuring the features of each as publishing platforms. Following the chart we’ll talk more about some of the differences in the applications, but if you’d like to read a primer on the subject there is our first post: Online Publishing With Web 2.0.

WeBook Lulu Blurb Qoop
Hard and soft cover yes yes yes yes
Templates n/a yes yes no
Dashboard yes yes yes no
Owner retains copyright yes yes yes yes
Language Support no Latin only unicode no
Import from design applications (inDesign) no yes no yes
Layout tools no yes yes no
Can assign an ISBN no yes yes no
Customization no yes yes no
Custom covers yes yes yes yes
Formats accepted n/a DOC, RTF, WPS, PDF, PS
* Images (jpg, gif, png)
doc, jpg, png pdf
Import blogs, photos no no yes no
Online bookstore yes yes yes yes
Webpage yes yes yes yes
Collaborative yes no no no
Comments yes yes yes yes
Voting/rating yes yes no no
Single copy of a B/W text paperback, less than 40 pages (lowest possible price) n/a $5.30 $4.95 $5.20
Public and private no yes yes yes
Proof no yes yes no

For printing applications, the first trick was to establish what the user needs. For the most traditional type of printing, for example, Lulu offered the widest variety of services, not only providing a platform for competitively priced printing in soft and hardback, but able to issue an ISBN. Layout and design in Lulu can be done with their layout tool, or uploaded as a print-ready pdf. For users with design experience, this is an attractive possibility, letting them lay out their book in inDesign or Quark.

Additional services Lulu provides include book scanning (perfect for preserving vintage sources), videos, calendars, and a range of other printed formats.

Lulu Screenshot

Clean and attractive, Blurb is the most versatile of the layout tools, with a catch. Free to use and downloadable for Macs and PCs, the layout software from Blurb is easy to use with a number of design elements worked into it, but it’s not intended for design professionals. It works with doc, jpg, and pbg files, but has no allowance for pdf or even txt. Users that will like Blurb are users who want to layout and publish outside of an expensive graphic program.

Buyers and sellers alike will enjoy the preview interface in Blurb, which turns pages in a popup. Smooth and fluid, the interface complements books.

Blurb Screenshot

Qoop, like Lulu, also has the ability to print in a variety of formats, offering book publishing in addition to apparel, mugs, calendars, and more. Users that are attracted to Qoop are likely to be users that have design capabilities and ones that want to take advantage of the many products that are also printed at Qoop.

Qoop Marketplace

Collaborative users may be attracted to WeBook, where their works can be combined with others in a social environment. Community tools such as messaging, following, and comments are worked into the WeBook application. The advantage to WeBook is the collaboration, however, and authors looking to produce their own work should consider one of the other applications we reviewed.

WeBook Screenshot

Each of the programs also have their detractions, some more than others. WeBook only prints reviewed and approved books, Qoop has no design tool of its own, and Blurb can not work with pdf’s.

Applications offering distribution and/or ISBNs (Blurb and Lulu) have royalty arrangements with participating users that treat the applications as the publisher, which means that if you strike it big, you’ll be getting royalties instead of direct payments. Lulu also supports only Latin based text, so unlike the Unicode that Blurb offers, only some languages are supported. Qoop and WeBook only support English.

To find these or other applications, there is the Listio search: books+publish.

Previously in this series: Lulu: Publishing Books And More

Application: WEbook
Listio Profile: http://www.listio.com/web20/app/WEbook/
Website: http://www.webook.com
WEbook is a revolutionary online book publishing company, which does for the industry what American Idol did for music. Welcome to the home of groundbreaking User-Generated Books. Cue WEbook.com, an online publishing platform that allows writers, editors, reviewers, illustrators and others to join... Learn more
Application: Blurb
Listio Profile: http://www.listio.com/web20/app/Blurb/
Website: http://www.blurb.com
Blurb is a company and a community that believes passionately in the joy of books – reading them, making them, sharing them, and selling them.... Learn more
Application: QOOP
Listio Profile: http://www.listio.com/web20/app/QOOP/
Website: http://www.qoop.com
Create and sell content online with QOOP. QOOP makes tools to help web users and web partners customize, publish, and sell. QOOP turns digital content into products. QOOP provides online print and on-demand product delivery. The QOOP solutions include printing digital images on a variety of media, ... Learn more
Application: Lulu
Listio Profile: http://www.listio.com/web20/app/Lulu/
Website: http://www.lulu.com
Lulu allows you to publish and sell worldwide through a fast, easy, and free process. Lulu has several features such as graphic services, publishing services, marketing and publicity services, translation services, and more. Simply register an account with the website and start uploading items in n... Learn more

New to Listio? Our tag cloud search offers an easy way to narrow your hunt for the perfect web application or service. No more second guessing of search terms. Just click on one tag, then as many more as you'd like to narrow your search results. It's easy and ensures you get to the listing you want. Finding web 2.0 was never so easy.

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3 Responses to “Comparing Book Publishing Applications: Lulu, WeBook, Blurb, and Qoop”

  1. Nada pessoal » Livros demais, leitores de menos? Says:

    [...] este artigo, que compara esses diferentes serviços [↩]informações tiradas do seguinte artigo [...]

  2. Chad Says:

    Blurb just launched PDF to Book on June 23, 09 which similar to Lulu allows you to use any publishing tool, such as InDesign or Word, and just upload a PDF directly. This is then an alternative to using the free BookSmart software.

  3. sElf Publishing - Religious Education Forum Says:

    [...] toying with the idea. This link might interest some of you. Review of Comparing Book Publishing Applications: Lulu, WeBook, Blurb, and Qoop | Web 2.0 Reviews | … __________________ —————————————————————— Wikipedia [...]

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