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Our fall campaign is in full swing and superheroes are giving at all levels – as such, it’s a great time to shine the spotlight on some of our most significant donors.

Lulu, the fantastic open publishing platform, is one such organization. Beyond offering creators of all types the means to publish their own work, Lulu offers a CC-licensing option for authors when they are creating their books. Over a million creators have used the service to date with approximately 20,000 titles to Lulu’s catalog each month.

We caught up with founder and CEO Bob Young to talk about Lulu generally, why they’ve chosen to support CC, and how our licenses have helped Lulu grow in the past decade.

Bob Young by Lulu / CC BY

Can you give our readers some background on Lulu? What is your role there?

Lulu’s mission is nothing less than to accelerate the transfer of knowledge from one generation of humans to the next. We are doing this by empowering authors of all stripes to bring their knowledge and expertise to their markets without having to ask permission of anyone.

Harnessing the power of the Internet and the free market, our goal is to ensure authors and other creators, as well as the publishers who serve them, are rewarded for creating and documenting the knowledge and expertise that they have accumulated from their research, experience and expertise.

We enable authors to publish their books for free, to create books as printed paper books and as ebooks in all formats and for all devices, and sell those books across the globe.

As Founder and CEO I get much more credit for the success of Lulu to date than I deserve. I prefer my Lulu title of Coffee Mug Washer. At least when I wash dishes in our break room I know I’m creating value.

What is the link between Lulu and CC? Do you all use our tools in your various projects

As Sir Isaac Newton pointed out, all knowledge is the result of “standing on the shoulders of giants”. Creative Commons is doing critically important work helping our society understand that without an active public domain of knowledge and content future generations will not be able to stand on the shoulders. Even more importantly CC is building the tools that enable the protection and expansion of that public domain of knowledge and content.

Lulu is all about giving our authors control over their content. We offer both standard copyright licenses as well as CC licenses and other options in the “select your license” step of the publishing process on This allows Lulu authors to contribute back to the same public domain of knowledge they benefited from when they learned the knowledge that allowed them to write their book.

Lulu is a corporate sponsor of Creative Commons – what was the motivation behind this generous giving? What is it about CC that you find important?

It was mostly a selfish instinct to protect my own ability to succeed. I doubt I’ve ever had an original thought. All of my success has come from borrowing ideas from people smarter and more knowledgeable than me. But if every idea or thought is someday going to be subject to a copyright or patent owned by some individual or some corporation then where am I going to get my next good idea?

I use the term “borrowing ideas” in the sense Thomas Jefferson meant when he said passing along knowledge was like letting someone light their candle from his. The person who now had the light from the newly lit candle benefited, while Jefferson still had all the light from his own lit candle.

Besides the specific licenses and tools it offers, CC has built a powerful brand that communicates everything Lulu wants to say about how authors should be in control of the content they create, and about how a robust public domain of knowledge contributes directly to improving our lives, liberty, and our pursuit of happiness.

Join Bob Young and Lulu in supporting the future of good ideas by donating to CC today!

Posted 18 October 2010