mbranesf (mbranesf) wrote,

Vanity presses? Really? Still!?

Here's a post from Victoria Strauss on the Writer Beware blog (sponsored by SFWA and MWA) about a sham publisher representing itself as a selective small press, but which is, in fact, a vanity publisher, meaning that they ask you for a whole bunch of money to print your book for you. Vanity publishers aren't necessarily fraudulent operations, but this one evidently was. But what I really don't get about this story is why the hell vanity presses even exist anymore in the age of print-on-demand?

If all you want to do is make a book for some kind of small-scale or local purpose (as the examples mentioned in that article seemed to be) that does not need distribution, it's easy and costs next to nothing to do it yourself through Lulu or one of the other POD sources. True, you need to have some kind of skill with a computer if you want to make the thing look decent, and probably even a bit of "advanced" user skill with desktop publishing basics if you want to make a nice custom cover for the book and successfully upload it to the printer. But someone who's got thousands of dollars to blow on having a shady operation "publish" their book can certainly get some inexpensive (if not free) format and design help if they don't know how to do it themselves.

It's just a shame that people don't research these things better. If you want to self-publish your family's genealogy or your collection of grandma's recipes or your unified conspiracy theory or your otherwise unpublishable (but brilliant!) novel, the technology is close at hand to just do it yourself without paying anyone much of anything for it. A few months ago I saw that someone used Lulu to print a lovely hard-bound print edition of his Twitter updates. Maybe I could print a trade paperback edition of the contents of this Live Journal if I wanted to. Worth doing? Probably not, but the point is that one can do it easily and cheaply, and the whole idea that there are still expensive vanity presses separating clueless people from their money really annoys me.  

(PS: I wonder if small-town churches know about POD? It could really help them step up the production quality of their cookbooks!)
Tags: publishing

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