Lulu formatting question



I'm having a few issues with full-bleed printing at Lulu and was hoping some of you more experienced people would be able to help me out.

I printed 2 test copies of my portfolio there on different days of the same week. The source files were 98% exactly the same.

The first copy looked great, although it had problems with images going over the gutter (it's saddle-stitched) not lining up right and the images were unreasonably dark in comparison to a different test print i did a few weeks ago.

The second copy had a small white stripe at the top, between the images that were supposed to be to the edge of the page and the edge of the page. It looked to me like whoever did the print job had simply accidentally cut the page a few milimeters too high on both the top and the bottom.

I thought I did the formattng correctly - I made my page size in the PDF (I'm working from InDesign) extra big because of the bleeds they specify on their web page to make it full-bleed. I formatted the images that I wanted to go to the edge of the page in the print version all the way to the edge of the PDF page (hence, the edge of the bleed) as I don't mind if the edges of them are not on the printed page as long as it's full bleed.

The agent on Lulu chat (yes, they don't have a phone number, ugh) told me that if I want my images to print full-bleed, they actually have to end in the PDF at where the edge of the print page will be and I have to leave the bleed area blank...otherwise Lulu will try to shrink the page to get all of the objects fully within the print area thus causing the white stripe at the top.

I'm confused.

1) If this is true, then what's the point of having a bleed area? I thought images had to extend into the bleed area because the printer is never exactly sure where it's going to get cut off.

2) Why did the other porfolio, which was formatted exactly the same, print totally fine?

In other news.
Why in both versions are the images super dark and the images that are supposed to go over the gutter not good looking?


Dec 2, 06 12:24 pm

Update: now they retracted whatever they were saying about shrinking it and decided just to refund my money. So I guess it was a mistake and I have no way of preventing it for sure from happening again. Now if only i could figure out why images across the gutter don't look good!

Dec 2, 06 3:14 pm

You need to make the page size a quarter of an inch larger. For example Using the Lulu 9x6 full bleed you would need a 6.25, 9.5 page size.

Then when you plot to pdf your file is the correct size and any images that are off the page area are simply not printed.

I mean come on read the directions, I thought they were nearly idiot proof.

Dec 2, 06 3:45 pm

Um, test case, I did read the directions, and I did exactly what the directions said. I'm only posting because I followed the directions yet still ended up with bad printing.

I mean, come on, read my post before you criticize.

Dec 2, 06 4:17 pm

Thenit seems like your printing the page incorrectly. I have used lulu for three portfolio's and followed their 6.25 by 9.5 page format every time and never had a problem. The real trick is the gutter. Here is my tip for you: .5" Thats the ideal gutter dimension for lulu 6x9 and probably all the sizes.

I only critisize because, my guess is that your somehow printing from illustrator to pdf and that the image size is ending up larger from the page size causing these problems.From my experience, lulu is pretty automatic, the error is probably in your workflow.

Dec 2, 06 4:23 pm

Lulu's web page says use zero gutter bleed for saddle-stitch ... but that didn't work for me. Oh, and the message boards over there are extremely unhelpful.

Dec 2, 06 6:08 pm

Does anyone know the turnaround time for lulu? How many days after I upload my file can I expect to have the portfolio at my door?

Nov 27, 07 1:11 am
Chase Dammtor

assuming you just get the regular speed / shipping (DO NOT CHOOSE MEDIA MAIL!!!) it depends on their work load. anywhere from 5 to 10 days.

Nov 27, 07 9:38 am

^ Bump.

I working on a photography exhibition and I'll soon be printing 500+ exhibiton books. I am thinking about using lulu because it appears to be an affordable option. I've heard good things about lulu but have never held a lulu-printed object in my hands. I'll be printing a test print before I send the big order but had a few general question about the paper that I'm hoping someone (a non lulu-chat customer service employee) could help me answer.

How is the paper quality? Does it seems to absorb the ink well? Does the paper feel cheap? Any complaints or recommendations (I've been told to add a little red to my black color) about lulu. Thanks.

Mar 27, 08 10:18 pm

unless your budget is small, i really don't think you'll like the quality of the paper or the ink.

Mar 27, 08 10:39 pm

Budget = small.

I have roughly a $9.50 per book to work with. Most local printers are giving me estimates around $14 per book.

Mar 27, 08 10:50 pm

Yeah, from what I’ve seen the ink and the paper quality at Lulu is pretty poor. It seems like Lulu is an option that's designed more for people self-publishing a smaller number of books. With 500+ I’d encourage you to look up a local professional printing press. They'll provide you way more options in terms of print/paper quality as well as binding options and will generally be much easier to work with since you can pay them a visit in person. The price shouldn't be too bad either as they're better-equipped to handle larger runs.

The other thing is that Lulu is fairly inconsistent. So out of a run of 500+ you’ll probably have some that are great, some that are okay and a fair number that are unusable. A good local press will probably be much better at quality assurance and certainly much easier to get them to re-do things they screw up.

Mar 27, 08 10:57 pm

Ahh I see, sorry n_ I posted at the same time, looks like my suggestion is out.

Mar 27, 08 10:58 pm

have you heard of mimeo? i was comparing sites to print a few portfolios, and mimeo promotes itself as having much higher quality and more options than lulu. it ended up being more expensive for my portfolios, which resulted in me going with lulu in the end (still waiting with fingers crossed to see the quality), but i only need 5 books as opposed to your 500. plus. they are having a 50% off promo for first time customers, which could make a huge difference for you.

you do have to fill out the online form and have some phone contact with a salesperson to make your order, but they were extremely helpful and called me within about 5 minutes of submitting the form. definitely worth a try. i'm curious if anyone has used this site before?

Mar 27, 08 11:09 pm

After a few weeks of nonstop layout design, the photography exhibition book is complete.

I received my proof print from lulu and was overall happy for its quality in relation to its cost. My only true compaint is the ultra-high gloss cover. I would have preferred a matte option. Other than that, the colors came out clear and crisp which was critical for us as it is a compilation of photos taken by youth in a public housing development.

I'm in the process of uploading my 130 MB file to order approximately 410 books. My stomach is in a knot hoping that the final order comes in as crisp as the proof.

reveillette - My apologies for not responding earlier. Yes, I have heard of mimeo and I've heard good things about their printing. I found that they didn't offer a square format so we automatically moved onto lulu. I think I'll run a proof by them and lulu come graduate school portfolio time.

Apr 21, 08 10:51 pm

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