I know the academic field isn't like regular commercial publishing, and probably won't be of interest to most AWers, but I was asked to look Edwin Mellen Press up by one of the profs where I work (university library).
What he said was that they'd offered him a contract, but he was expected to format his manuscript himself, so he wanted to see what their other publications looked like. I found a few in the stacks, and off he went. The format-it-yourself sounded strange, especially for a publisher of scholarly works. So I googled around, and found this blog entry. Which made me wonder a bit more.
One commenter says:
Another says:1. Their copyright agreement is the worst I’ve seen in the industry. They literally and practically enslave their authors to a contract that NO ONE should ever sign.
2. They never pay royalties.
And indeed, the professor came back to me today saying that he'd had a contract with Mellen, he had disagreed with the title they suggested, and (while he thought they were still in negotiation over it) he'd had a brusque letter from the head telling him that they weren't going to publish his book after all.quote removed by request, as reportedly Mellen are going after the speaker, which makes them even more questionable, I think.
I asked what his contract said about that, and he said it was supposed to go to arbitration, in Maryland, but he wasn't inclined to pursue it.
To up the strangeness, after he wrote a brusque letter back, he was offered publication again, then after some other minor disagreement, booted again.
Apologies for the hearsay, but I thought the story was worth noting here.