Vanity Consolidation

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, 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.

4 thoughts on “Vanity Consolidation”

  1. There are a few honest and trustworthy self-publishing companies,and these are excellent for NON-FICTION niche market specialty publications. Larry Block self published his HOW TO WRITE A NOVEL (or some such title)book, and I just helped my dear friend Tom Hodgins put together a little book about his pal, Fraser, who is schizophrenic. It is a wonderful little book about friendship,loyalty and,of course schizophrenia. It isn’t some scholarly tome, and it is primarily intended for the little town in which he lives. Hence, a nice POD publisher would be perfect. Proceeds go to help “the cause,” so to speak. Someone such as Tom deserves not to be ripped off. In fact, if you can suggest the best “non-lethal” POD publishers, it would be appreciated.
    Burl Barer, writing on deadline as usual

  2. I believe that lulu may be the cheapest — but I am not positive about that. He should get Mark Levine’s book THE FINE PRINT OF SELF PUBLISHING which provides a thorough over view of all the vanity presses and their contracts.

  3. Mostly because I just discovered your blog today, I’m wondering what the beef is with self publishing? Companies that rip people off should, of course, come under fire. But there seems to be hostility in general towards the concept and I’m not sure why. I’m not saying I disagree, merely that I am uninformed.

  4. In a nutshell, vanity presses prey on the desperation and gullibility of aspiring writers. The companies make their money not by selling books to readers but by selling books to authors…but that’s not what they tell authors. They perpetuate the lie that paying to be published is not only a standard first step for writers but can lead to enormous success and recognition as a “published author.” For fiction in particular, it is close to impossible for a self-published book to make back the author has spent to print. The books don’t get distributed and sold in stores, they don’t get reviewed, they aren’t eligible for most awards, and they don’t qualify the authors for inclusion in any of the professional writing organizations. In other words, even the “honest” vanity presses are conning you.


Leave a Comment