I got this email today:
Why are you so hard on print-on-demand publishers? It’s the wave of the future. You seem to think if a publisher is strictly POD that they are a scam.
You are mixing two different thoughts…publishing and technology. Let’s deal with the "publishing" aspect first.
Being a POD press, in and of itself, doesn’t mean
that they are dishonest. But the likelihood of you selling many books, or
getting any critical notice, when going with a POD press are extraordinarily slim.
POD presses are notoriously
fly-by-night and financially unstable. Why? Because anybody with a credit card can start a POD press and call
themselves a publisher, whether or not they have any experience at editing, distribution, promotion, or running a business. So the quality of the editing, cover art, and
professionalism is often iffy at best. Most POD presses are launched by
aspiring authors who want to publish their own work and, sadly, many are also started by scammers who prey on the gullibility and desperation of wannabe writers.
As for the print-on-demand technology, I don’t know whether it is the "wave of the future" but it is being embraced by more and more real publishers for printing galleys and keeping their backlist alive (which presents challenging issues for authors in dealing with publishers, who can use POD to claim their books are never "out of print" and the rights never revert back). Whether POD will ever replace traditional off-set printing of trade paperbacks…well, that’s yet to be seen.