First the vanity press Authorhouse bought iUniverse, which was one of the few "reputable" players in the largely disreputable print-on-demand, self-publishing industry. Now Authorhouse has gobbled up xlibris, too. Can Lulu be far behind?
Other rivals in the print-on-demand space include closely held Lulu Enterprises Inc.'s Lulu.com, based in Raleigh, N.C. Last October, Lulu laid off 24 employees, including its president, or nearly 25% of its work force.
"It was less about the state of Lulu and more about the economy," said Gail Jordan, a company spokeswoman. "We pared back to ride out the storm. Our company is actually doing well."
Yeah, right. But in her comment lies the good news: the consolidation of the vanity press business means that the sleazy little fly-by-night vanity presses (like Jones Harvest) are probably doomed. If the big-boys of sham publishing can't make it on their own, it's unlikely these tiny, far less capitalized vanity presses will be able to stay alive for long. I say good riddance.
On the other hand, Victoria Strauss fears the lack of competition among vanity presses will lead to more, and costlier, abuse of the aspiring authors who use those services.