iUniverse and Authorhouse are merging to become one huge vanity press. In a press release, iUniverse CEO Susan Driscoll says:
Why this move, and why now? Quite simply, the strengths and the capabilities of
AuthorHouse and iUniverse complement one another, and by building on our
individual strengths we can expand the range and enhance the quality of the
services that each company offers.
[…] I’m delighted that my iUniverse colleagues and I will be working with Bryan
Smith and with the entire AuthorHouse team to define a world where publishing is
I guess by "author centric" they mean that they make their money off the desperate, naive authors rather than from selling books to readers. It’s unfortunate that iUniverse, seemingly the most honest of the vanity presses, is teaming up with one of the sleaziest.
4 thoughts on “Double the Vanity”
Possibly iUniverse will impose its somewhat more responsible business practices on AuthorHouse? We can hope, I guess.
I have come to suspect that these vanity companies, who have gotten very good at packaging books and making them look much like the product of fine old commercial houses, have ended up damaging literature and reading, by turning off readers. How is the average reader to know that he or she’s in for an abysmal experience, when the cover makes the book so attractive? Many book readers scarcely know Random House from Authorhouse and get snookered.
This merger is just what’s been going on in corporate America and trade publishing for decades: corporate consolidation as a way of reducing competition. After iUniverse and Xlibris launched around 1997, a whole host of other companies saw $$$ in POD as the new vanity press model and created POD companies. Some may already have folded, some certainly will and some will be acquired by the big boys.
I don’t think Mr. Wheeler’s concerns are congruent with the facts. No one will be confused by the high quality appearance of a POD title alongside one from a reputable trade publisher for the practical reason that you rarely ever see a POD-published book at any of the big chains or even independent bookstores. And the covers of most POD books look terrible in comparison to most trade titles. The poor quality of POD covers is a topic that’s come up often on blogs during discussions of self-publishing.
Actually, some covers on PoD are very good, so being smug on the fact that some have ugly covers is just that, being smug. Many books from traditional printers have butt ugly covers, so that’s no clue to the quality of what might be on the printed page.
Many years ago, well before the advent of PoD, when I was a shelving drone at a small book seller, I was often in distress by some of the nasty covers that assaulted my eyes.
Anyway, I’m always stunned by unpublished fiction writers who think that the way to go is through the various types of vanity publishing, whether one ends up with a pallet of books in the garage or goes PoD, why do they think it is a good idea to pay someone thousands of dollars, how come they can’t tell the difference between printed and published?
As I have previously mentioned while posting here, there are a number of circumstances when paying is not a bad idea, for example, if one gives lectures at conferences or conventions, and will be selling them at the event. Or if one is putting out a short-run of specialized manuals, perhaps.
And even in such circumstances, one should pay for a real editor. Plus use a service such as Lulu.com which is pay as you go rather cough up the price of a used care up front.