I got this email today:
Is Booksurge a vanity press? They are owned by Amazon, which sells the books, so isn’t that different?
Yes, Booksurge is a vanity press. Being owned by Amazon doesn’t change that. The big clue is that they charge for all their publishing services… starting at $498 for their "Author’s Advantage" package and on up to $899 for the "Master Bookmaker" option. Add another $999 for Professional Cover Design or "upgrade your book to a library-quality hard cover for a truly professional look" for another two hundred bucks (so everything else they publish looks unprofessional?). Getting accepted by Booksurge doesn’t mean you’ve written a great book. It means your credit card is good.
Amazon sells iUniverse and other POD vanity-press books, too. I suppose the only difference is that orders might be fullfilled faster for Booksurge titles than other vanity press titles bought through Amazon.