Self Publishing Firm Lulu Aiming For $50 Million Canadian IPO; Hires Underwriters

Lulu, the Raleigh, N.C.-based online self-publishing service, is aiming for a $50 million IPO on the Canadian market, according to a report last week from DJN. It has already hired Genuity Capital Markets and CIBC World Markets as the issue’s leading underwriters, the story says, citing sources. The company, founded in 2002 by Bob Young, co-founder of open-source giant Red Hat, now has offices in Raleigh, London, Toronto and Bangalore, and says its revenues increased 37 percent from 2007 to 2008, the only number it would publicly disclose.

But why Canada? The local equity market has been on bit of a boom, and in 2009, saw 28 new issues worth C$1.8 billion, compared with the C$682 million raised from 57 new issues in 2008, the story says. Less stringent scrutiny on the Canadian exchange is also probably the reason why that seems more feasible than U.S. markets.

Remains to be seen if CSX would be receptive to a still-nascent market player like this. Also, as Newsobserver points out, “U.S. investors could still buy shares. And once it’s established as a publicly traded company in Canada, Lulu could generate investor interest and shift to a U.S. stock market.”

Lulu, which started in books, has moved onto other custom pub items like CDs and calenders, thus now competing tangentially with the biggie in the space, CafePress, which itself is slated to be an IPO candidate. The company also acquired social book app WeRead in 2008, and has recently started selling e-books from more mainstream authors, thus possibly tapping into the current e-books boom.