Lulu PDF compliance (JobOptions) and color management

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Davide Barranca

Feb 16, 2019, 5:09:38 AM2/16/19
to leanpub
I'm trying to print a test mini-batch (just 3 copies) on Lulu, but I've run into missing/misleading information – on Lulu's side – so I'd like to ask around here if anyone has useful insights!

Starting from Leanpub print-ready PDF, there's some "massaging" still left, to comply with Lulu's requirements: e.g. flatten transparencies, add bleeding. 
Lulu also provides two "joboptions" (JO) files in its template: one for the cover, one for the interior – which, funnily enough, are identical. Besides the fact that it's not possible on Acrobat Pro to preflight against their JO (a generic error is thrown when importing them in the Preflight/Standard tab: you should save the PDF as PostScript, import the JO in Distiller and distill the PS back to PDF, which may cause font troubles, etc. so I won't do it), the problem lies in the Color Management part of the JO

The template's JO says "Convert all to sRGB". On two posts in their forums (here and here), they embed a different JO, that (even worse) says "Leave Color Unchanged".

The fact they give two different sets of instruction on color management (none of which seems to make sense) leaves me quite puzzled. To be on the safe side, I'm preflighting against PDF/X-1a, but I would need a CMYK profile of choice – Gracol? SWOP? I've asked here, but my impression – working mainly in the Photography / Printing business myself – is that not giving precise info in the first place on such matters (or worse, giving misleading info) is a bad sign.

I didn't originally start the project with the idea of printing, so now I have to tweak some images for proper CMYK output (e.g., high GCR separations on some screenshots, etc), this is a bit of a show-stopper for me.

Thanks in advance to anybody who can share his/her experience!


Davide Barranca

Feb 21, 2019, 3:00:10 PM2/21/19
to leanpub
After a couple of emails with the very kind Lulu's customer support, I got this:
  1. They have ongoing partnerships with several print facilities in different places in the world (US, Canada, Europe, and Australia).
  2. They have agreed with each contractor on a set of quality standards (based on ink/paper), although their print partners are largely autonomous.
  3. They tend to suggest sRGB to standardize the color input (and avoid problems).
It is not possible to micro-manage (prepress-style) graphic elements in the PDF (CMYK separations, GCR, etc) for each print shop may do CMYK repurposing on their own e.g., for color management or ink saving purposes.

Tomorrow I'll get the copies I've ordered, that have been shipped to Italy from the UK: I've chosen the "Color Standard" inks as a test, even if books in my industry (software development) are usually BW – that is also cheaper. For a 420 pages Letter book, with the "Perfect Bound" binding, ultra-smooth/high opacity bright white paper they've asked about $20 a copy (delivery excluded).

As a comparison, with the same specs but "BW Premium" inks, the book would cost $16, whereas with "Color Premium" ink the price gets to a staggering $68. When it comes to binding, a Casewrap is +$7 compared to the "Perfect Bound" (which looks like milled and glued pages, with a softer cover)

Just in case somebody is interested :-)

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