I have to point you to two terrific blog posts from Writer Beware's Victoria Strauss, who tackles the fallacy behind POD companies calling themselves "independent publishers" and their customers calling themselves "independent authors." The POD companies are eager to cast themselves as the equivalent of indie movie-makers. But the comparison doesn't fit. Indie film-makers and musicians don't pay someone to package and market their work, they do it themselves. Victoria notes:
If you sign a contract with a self-publishing company, you are not an independent writer, no matter how emphatically the self-pub company says you are.
She goes on to note:
If you are a true self-publisher–if you've handled every aspect of publication on your own–then yes, you can accurately call yourself an independent author.[…]If you've used a print-on-demand self-publishing company, you've granted it a limited license to your work, you've chosen from a pre-determined package of services, you're dependent on whatever distribution the company provides, and you probably don't own your ISBN number. Also, since most self-pub companies reserve the right to discontinue publication for any reason, you don't fully control your work's availability, and since most pay a royalty, you don't control its income, either. In other words, you are not independent.
By the way, there's some very good news coming soon about the future of Writer Beware that will make it even stronger.