I don't have enough information to speculate about this, but if you held a gun to my head, I'd guess that the program was ASI's idea, but S&S had some input on the prices.
I'm looking through the specific services offered. It's unbelievably ugly. This is from the fiction section on "Editorial Assessment":
The Archway Publishing Editorial Assessment examines a portion of your work (typically the first chapter or about 1,700 words) and provides you with a specific sample edit. This edit includes changes you can make to improve your book as well as a general overview of your manuscript with constructive comments for improvement. To be clear, this is not a full manuscript edit and should not replace the rest of Archway Publishing’s editorial services.
The typical time frame for the Editorial Assessment is two to three weeks. After that time, your editor will provide suggestions for areas of improvement and tell you about other Archway Publishing editorial services. It is up to you to decide if you would like to purchase those services from Archway Publishing. If you choose to work with Archway Publishing for the rest of your editorial needs, your manuscript will receive the utmost attention from one of our professional editors, who will address the issues raised in the assessment and help you make your book the best it can be.
Catch that? Those already inflated costs don't include editing, copyediting, and proofreading, which are labor-intensive stages, and quite expensive to have done by freelancers.
This next bit is from the Elite/Concierge option on exterior cover design for fiction:
- You’ll have access to an expanded library of stock images
- Your Archway Publishing cover designer will conduct creative research on genre-specific cover trends to determine which design will maximize your book's impact in the marketplace
- Your designer will propose three front cover concepts that reflect the feel of your book
- Once you choose your favorite concept, you and your designer will confirm the details about the design elements.
OMG, they're using stock art on fiction.
If you do "creative research on genre-specific cover trends," the main thing you're going to learn is that real publishers very rarely use unmodified stock art on fiction.
"Genre-specific cover trends" is ridiculously unspecific when you're packaging a book. Functional book packages are uniquely tailored to that book. ASI is going to crank out shallow genre cliches. That will be especially hard on quirky books that are hard to describe.
Marketing books and designing book covers are not unrelated specialties, but hoo boy are they ever not the same specialty. Deciding what kind of cover? That's marketing. Turning that into an attractive and appropriate cover? That's cover design.
I've known a few people who can do both. They're experienced industry pros. Maybe they're the kind of cover designers ASI is hiring. But I wouldn't bet the rent on it.
I can't keep looking at this site. It makes me want to Hulk out and rant.