I currently put some of my sheet music on Lulu
so that people who prefer a professionally-printed copy to download can order it.
It's also handy for sending Patreon rewards to those supporters who have subscribed to printed copies. It's a bit of a pain because there's significant delay to printing compared to me doing it at home, but I can get saddle-stitched booklets from Lulu and I am rubbish at hand-binding booklets myself: my printer only goes up to A4, so I either have to make everything tiny, or deal with tape and so on. It isn't good. The quality at Lulu is much better.
Lulu is a rather spammy. They charge what they do and then offer discounts via codes they send to your e-mail inbox so often that gmail has started filing them as spam for me.
They charge an absolute fortune for shipping, and it increases per copy, rather than per shipment. My guess is they're trying to factor some kind of per-item quality control into their shipping costs? I dunno. I just know that if you send 10 4-page booklets in real life, it doesn't cost 10x as much as sending 1 of them. With larger items I'd understand doing the shipping this way, but most of my items are small, and I'm generally ordering relatively small quantities too.
They don't include VAT in displayed prices, which means that between that and the shipping it's easy to end up spending twice as much as you intended to.
Lulu isn't really meant to be a sheet music seller and so there's no way for people to search my work there by number of voices, or whether it's accompanied, or whatever. And it's not somewhere people are going to go looking for sheet music. Some of this I could maybe fix by putting more links on my website, as realistically that's where most people are going to be when they decide to buy my music, but still -- it would be better, I think, to be publishing in a place that people look when they are looking for sheet music.
There are music print-on-demand services like Black Ribbon Select
, but they tend to charge monthly; and in the months I'm putting a hymn online, ie a single page I can print myself, I wouldn't be ordering. It doesn't look as if the music ends up in a searchable site that consumers can browse.
There are other allegedly print-on-demand sites but they tend to be selling, er, downloads you print yourself. Completely unnecessary as my music is online for free. I am absolutely committed to the principle behind this, so that's no good.
There are publishing houses that focus on works that are already in the public domain; in theory, they could print and sell any of my CC-by-SA works and I wouldn't see a penny. I don't have a problem with this: they still can't (legally) prevent copying, and it's not like they'd have much of a sales plan given the stuff is available online.
I think what I'd like is something like Lulu that is less "oh, you mean I'm actually paying THAT much?!" and more sheet-music oriented; something that explicitly promotes the work of people who also make their music available for download for free; something that both has its own community feel (so people can search the site for choral music on whatever subject, and so on) and also offers some kind of widget/button so that people can add things to their basket there from my site.
I am realistically never going to get around to doing this; but I do think there could be a market for it. Yes, I know sheet music apps are becoming a thing, but a) large screens are breakable and small ones have too many page turns b) paper doesn't tend to run out of battery, so I think paper sheet music is probably still going to be a thing for a while, the way printed books are going to be a thing for a while even though we also ahve e-books.