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debate
05-09-2006, 03:07 PM
James D. Macdonald claims to have won this debate. If he won, this thread will remain.

The Debate - Page One

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shelagh Posted: Feb 18 2006, 06:49 PM

Why was I banned from the AW forum?

Shelagh Watkins
Mr. Planemaker's Flying Machine
http://shelaghwatkins.co.uk/
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James D. Macdonald Posted: Feb 19 2006, 04:50 AM

That's off topic.

The debate here is on PublishAmerica and its business practices.

Here are the ground rules. We will be talking only about PublishAmerica. If I ask questions, I expect the answers to be factual and complete. In return I will answer completely and factually any questions you might have.

I expect you to publicize the address of this forum on the PublishAmerica Message Board, both in the public area and the private area.

I regret that my participation here will be sporadic over the next several days. I'm travelling.

To the debate then:

Resolved: PublishAmerica is a vanity press.
Resolved: PublishAmerica engages in unfair trade practices including false and misleading advertising.
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shelagh Posted: Feb 19 2006, 08:44 AM

If you ask questions, you expect them to be factual and complete, but if I ask questions, you will decide if they are relevant or not!

Definition of: vanity press
n.
A publisher that publishes a book at the expense of the author.

Now, are we going to debate whether PublishAmerica is a publisher or a printer, or are we going to accept that PublishAmerica is a publisher and therefore the above definition can be contested?

Shelagh Watkins
Mr. Planemaker's Flying Machine
http://shelaghwatkins.co.uk/
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James D. Macdonald Posted: Feb 19 2006, 02:02 PM

I have no problem with defining PublishAmerica as a publisher.
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shelagh Posted: Feb 19 2006, 03:56 PM

Good. Publishers might be grouped into five categories according to William Germano in his book "What Do Publishers Do?" http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/288447.html

In which category would you place PublishAmerica?

Shelagh Watkins
Mr. Planemaker's Flying Machine
http://shelaghwatkins.co.uk/
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James D. Macdonald Posted: Feb 20 2006, 01:31 AM

Welcome, Carl. I'm delighted to see you here and have a chance to talk with you directly.
Shelagh, I'm on a very slow connection here. I'll look over the article you linked to. I regret that I may not be able to log on again until sometime Tuesday.
-- JDM
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shelagh Posted: Feb 20 2006, 09:14 AM

I have deleted three posts by AW members: one by Argile Stox, another by Dee Power and a third by a guest posing as Carl Baxter. I set up this debate board as a private board to facilitate a frank and fair exchange of views because I knew that AW members would interfere.

Carl Baxter is not interested in having a debate with you or anyone else.
You set the rules; I merely complied.
Christine Norris posted the following comment on the AW forum:

Yeah, right... that's why the same post was on the PAMB, also signed by Carl. You need to keep up shelagh. It was Carl, and if he told you different he's a liar.

A guest did copy and paste from the PAMB into a post here. Carl told me that he did not make a post on this forum. The accusation that Carl is a liar is, therefore, libellous and I have the IP address to prove it.

Shelagh Watkins
Mr. Planemaker's Flying Machine
http://shelaghwatkins.co.uk/
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James D. Macdonald Posted: Feb 20 2006, 05:49 PM

Thanks for pointing out Mr. Germano's article, shelagh. He's addressing an audience primarily of academics who are writing non-fiction.

His list isn't exhaustive. For example, neither vanity presses nor author mills are mentioned. Nor does he address the plethora of small presses among the trades, where they belong. I'd have to say that, for his list, PublishAmerica is "none of the above." If I were pressed to fit PublishAmerica into one of his five categories I'd be forced to put it into that part of self-publishing that he dismisses with a single sentence: "Sophisticated packagers are available to help the ambitious writer move an idea to market without knocking on the doors of trade houses."

Tell me: Into which of Mr. Germano's categories would you place each of these publishers?
Dorrance
Vantage
iUniverse
AuthorHouse
Xlibris
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shelagh Posted: Feb 20 2006, 06:39 PM

This web site features the first two publishers on your list:
http://www.fictionfactor.com/self/vanity.html

This web site lists the third and fifth publishers on your list:
http://www.publishondemand.net/help/

This web site features the third, fourth and fifth on your list:
http://www.fonerbooks.com/q_vanity.htm

They all seem to be self-publishing, vanity presses (category five).

Shelagh Watkins
Mr. Planemaker's Flying Machine
http://shelaghwatkins.co.uk/
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James D. Macdonald Posted: Feb 21 2006, 04:26 AM

"They all seem to be self-publishing, vanity presses (category five)."
Okay, all five (Vantage, Dorrance, iUniverse, Xlibris, and AuthorHouse) are vanity presses.

Let's not confuse self-publication with vanity publication, shall we?

With self-publication the author retains all the rights, and takes all the profits.

With vanity publication the author does not retain all rights, and receives only a portion of the profits.

Of course, that latter statement makes vanity publication indistinguishable from trade publication. Could you help me out by suggesting some ways in which vanity publishing differs from trade publishing?
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shelagh Posted: Feb 21 2006, 09:26 AM

The term "vanity press" was coined by The acknowledged expert, Johnathon Clifford: http://www.vanitypublishing.info/index.html

In 1959/60 when two American companies were advertising widely throughout the UK offering to publish individual poems in anthologies at 9 and 12 each respectively, I coined the phrase "vanity publishing". Since 1991 I have campaigned unceasingly for truth and honesty in the vanity publishing world and have become recognised as the authority on the subject.

If publishers charge you to publish your book - they are vanity publishers.

Many unwary authors are encouraged by a vanity publisher's initial promotional material which usually praises the work submitted - whatever its quality. Such publishers often misleadingly refer to themselves as 'partnership', 'self-', 'joint venture', or 'subsidy' publishers. But however they may refer to themselves and however much they may deny that they are - if they charge you to publish your book - they are a vanity publisher.

You make a distinction between self-publishing and vanity publishing, others do not:

On PublishOnDemand.net, we are using the term "print on demand", the term "publish on demand", and the concept of "vanity publishing" interchangeably. "Print on Demand" in and upon itself is simply a technology used by printers to be able to print a single copy of a book. Since the vast majority of Print on Demand Publishers are also "vanity" press publishers, this site serves to compare these self publishers to help you pick the right one.

Of the five publishers listed by you, only iUniverse and Xlibris are listed on PublishOnDemand.net.

Two of the publishers on your list are self publishers, but all five are vanity publishers.

VANITY PUBLISHER: OFFICIAL DEFINITION
(as accepted by the UK Advertising Standards Authority)
Vanity publishing, also self-styled (often inaccurately) as "subsidy", "joint-venture","sharedresponsibility", or even "self" publishing, is a service whereby authors are charged to have their work published. Vanity publishers generally offer to publish a book for a specific fee, or offer to include short stories, poems or other literary or artistic material in an anthology, which the authors are then invited to buy.
Therefore any company that wants to charge you to publish your book is - by definition - a vanity publisher, whatever they may try to tell you to the contrary.

Shelagh Watkins
Mr. Planemaker's Flying Machine
http://shelaghwatkins.co.uk/
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James D. Macdonald Posted: Feb 22 2006, 03:47 AM

Among the distinctions I make between self-publishing and vanity publishing is this: in self-publishing the author owns the ISBN. In vanity publishing the publisher owns the ISBN.

Self-published authors also retain all their rights. Vanity published authors do not.
I am unaware of any reputable authority that confuses the two, nor do the quotes you give support any other view.

Yes, some vanity presses style themselves "self publishers" or "self-publishing services," but in this they are being misleading.

I am fully aware of your countryman, Mr. Clifford, his history and his reputation. Will you admit him as an expert, if I were to quote him on the subject of PublishAmerica and its business model?

You quoted this bit:

On PublishOnDemand.net, we are using the term "print on demand", the term "publish on demand", and the concept of "vanity publishing" interchangeably. "Print on Demand" in and upon itself is simply a technology used by printers to be able to print a single copy of a book. Since the vast majority of Print on Demand Publishers are also "vanity" press publishers, this site serves to compare these self publishers to help you pick the right one.

Do you stand by it? It is easily demonstrated that PublishAmerica is a POD (Print on Demand/Publish on Demand) publisher, and, therefore, a vanity publisher by this definition.
===========
Getting back to Mr. Germano for a moment: in which of his categories do you place PublishAmerica?
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Guest Posted: Feb 22 2006, 06:21 AM


Of the five publishers listed by you, only iUniverse and Xlibris are listed on PublishOnDemand.net.

Actually, three of them are listed. AuthorHouse is the new name for 1st Books. Since 1st Books changed its name to AuthorHouse in March, 2004, I wonder whether PublishOnDemand.net has been updated lately.

Vantage and Dorrance generally use offset printing rather than digital printing. From this we can see that printing technology doesn't define whether a press is a vanity press.

Would you agree with that?
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shelagh Posted: Feb 22 2006, 09:56 AM


(shelagh)
They all seem to be self-publishing, vanity presses (category five). Obviously, what they "seem to be" and what they are differs.
Irrespective of what they seem to be, they are all vanity presses.


(shelagh)
You make a distinction between self-publishing and vanity publishing, others do not: You wanted to make a point about the difference between self publishing and vanity publishing. I had already agreed that all the publishers on your list are vanity publishers.

(James D. Macdonald)
Yes, some vanity presses style themselves "self publishers" or "self-publishing services," but in this they are being misleading. Yes, they do mislead don't they?

There's no need to waste years hoping that someone will publish your book. iUniverse makes it possible for you to become a published author today. Only we have professionals with extensive knowledge of the industry to guide you through a unique and supported self-publishing experience. http://iuniverse.com/

At Xlibris, we give you all of the tools you need to publish your book quickly, easily and affordably. Through leading-edge print-on-demand technology, we offer a wide variety of Design, Production and Publishing Services, as well as online distribution availability and Marketing Products for self-publishing authors. http://Xlibris.com/

Since 1997, AuthorHouse, the leading self-publishing company in the world, has helped authors achieve their book publishing goals with over 27,000 books in print. Choosing a reputable book publisher, among the many book publishing companies and book publishers available, is a very critical step towards the publishing process. Publishing a book with AuthorHouse means you'll be guided by author advocates who are serious about writing and publishing. They will help you choose the best book publishing options and the most effective marketing tools.
Unlike some book publishers, AuthorHouse authors retain all rights and control decisions around the publishing and marketing of their book. You determine how many and when copies of your published book are printed and you select your own royalty schedule. When your book is finished, it's available for order at more than 25,000 retail outlets worldwide, on the Internet at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and through the AuthorHouse online publishing company book store.
Join over 25,000 self-published authors who have trusted AuthorHouse to be their book publisher of choice. Publishing a Book is a great adventure! Let AuthorHouse be your guide. http://www.authorhouse.com/

With respect to the question about categories (to which you replied):

(James D. Macdonald)
I'd have to say that, for his list, PublishAmerica is "none of the above." If I were pressed to fit PublishAmerica into one of his five categories I'd be forced to put it into that part of self-publishing that he dismisses with a single sentence: "Sophisticated packagers are available to help the ambitious writer move an idea to market without knocking on the doors of trade houses." If pressed (no pun intended!) I would put PublishAmerica into category one.
Btw, I found this interesting (vanity publishing): http://www.abbookman.com/ABBookman_E100104.html

Shelagh Watkins
Mr. Planemaker's Flying Machine
http://shelaghwatkins.co.uk/
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Guest Posted: Feb 22 2006, 05:27 PM


Btw, I found this interesting (vanity publishing):
http://www.abbookman.com/ABBookman_E100104.html

That's rather a side trip. Poor dear Rick Russell is arguing that some vanity-published books fetch more on the collectors' market than some commercially-published books. This is true. It's also irrelevant. Certain letters fetch more on the collectors' market than those same vanity-published works he cites. Certain baseball cards fetch more. Certain comic books fetch more. The price on the collectors' market speaks more to the rarity of an item than to its quality.
Rick also says,

One of the most expensive modern collectables: Grisham, John. A Time To Kill. New York: Wynwood Press, 1989, which has a value in the collector’s market of about $4000 in fine condition, was a subsidy publication. This is factually untrue. Wynwood was not a subsidy publisher.

The argument isn't that vanity publishers never publish worthwhile works. The argument is that vanity publication is a poor choice for an author since it produces few sales, few readers, and small income. Not a dime of any of those prices Rick cites goes to the author.

Rick isn't worth considering.
=======
Now you place PublishAmerica in Mr. Germano's category one, eh? Let's review that.
First, you are aware that Mr. Germano is talking about academic non-fiction, while PublishAmerica produces very little academic non-fiction? I leave this aside out of a sense of friendliness, but will soon come up with other lists of categories of publishing which may be more relevant.

1. Trade. Trade publishers, the big commercial houses based largely in New York and owned largely elsewhere, are what most people think of when they think of publishers at all. The houses are the source of more than half of the books published in the English language, and most conspicuously those on the bestseller list. When people talk about books, it's likely they're talking about trade books. Trade books are the ones most people—including you—read for pleasure and information. While no trade publisher is reluctant to have a backlist of titles that continue to sell year after year, the industry's trends are toward signing up only books that will be very profitable, and very profitable right away. Trade publishing thrives on precisely what scholarly publishing does not: the one depends upon reaching the greatest number of people quickly, while the other depends upon reaching enough of the right people over time. Trade houses do publish some scholarly books, but scholarship isn't the reason these publishers are in business. In the era of conglomerates, there are fewer independent trade publishers and more divisions, imprints, lines, and series within larger trade houses. Trade publishing isn't the focus of Getting It Published, simply because few scholarly writers will begin their publishing careers with trade. Germano, Getting It Published
What do we learn about trade publishing from that?

* Trade publishing is located in New York
* Trade publishing has best sellers
* Trade publishing seeks books that will be profitable quickly
* Trade publishing seeks to reach great numbers of people

Of those four items, PublishAmerica matches only one: they seek to publish books that will be profitable quickly.

I have demonstrated elsewhere, and am prepared to do so again, that PublishAmerica's investement in each of their titles is on the order of $300. When the author has bought 30 copies of his or her own book, PublishAmerica has made back that investment, and all other sales beyond that are profit.

Let's look at some more items from Mr. Germano's article:

Marketing departments issue all kinds of catalogues to promote books—ones you see and ones you won't unless you're a librarian or a bookseller. The trade catalogue is a publisher's principal tool for making sales to bookstores. PublishAmerica does not produce a catalogue, and does not promote to bookstores. In this they resemble vanity presses, not trade presses.

Your publisher may budget anywhere from fifty to several hundred "free and review" copies of your book. These are copies on which you will receive no royalties because they'll be given away or used in promotion.
Your publisher will have an A-list of preferred review sites, and will automatically get copies of your book to the people at these publications and organizations. PublishAmerica budgets up to five free copies for reviews, and, unlike trade publishing only sends them out to reviewers who request them, who are approved by PublishAmerica, and only after the book has been released. In this PublishAmerica resembles the vanity press.

Let's look at some more of Mr. Germano's article:

Pricing and discounting. The publisher decides how much to charge for the book, and at what discount to sell it. The discount is granted to booksellers and wholesalers, and determines how widely the book will penetrate bookstore markets. PublishAmerica's books are priced much higher than similar books produced wtih identical technology by other houses -- even than those produced by acknowledged vanity presses. PublishAmerica's discounts are far lower than those of any trade house. Between the two, they guarantee almost no penetration of the bookstore market. Since we've agreed that trade publishing "depends upon reaching the greatest number of people quickly," this demonstrates by itself that PublishAmerica can not be a trade publisher under Mr. Germano's definitions.

I invite your attention to Mr. Germano's subheadings, particularly Selecting the Project, Making a Book, and Spreading the News. In each of those areas, for each of the functions he lists, PublishAmerica either performs that function in the most minimal way possible or not at all.

Thus we can see that whatever PublishAmerica is, it isn't a trade publisher.

Christine N.
05-09-2006, 03:10 PM
I think this is beginning to border on harassment.

<looks for mod squad member>...

debate
05-09-2006, 03:21 PM
James D. Macdonald Posted: Feb 22 2006, 05:49 PM

And now I've actually logged in with this computer, so my name will be on the posts. The last couple of "Guest" posts were me.
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shelagh Posted: Feb 22 2006, 06:28 PM

Now we know what PublishAmerica isn't! Why are you so intent on proving that PublishAmerica is a vanity publisher?

Does it matter that iUniverse, Xlibris and AuthorHouse advertise themselves as self publishers? Is it okay for vanity publishers to claim to be self publishers, but it isn't okay for a publisher to claim not to be a vanity publisher?

Shelagh Watkins
Mr. Planemaker's Flying Machine
http://shelaghwatkins.co.uk/
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James D. Macdonald Posted: Feb 22 2006, 11:03 PM


Now we know what PublishAmerica isn't! Why are you so intent on proving that PublishAmerica is a vanity publisher? We do indeed know what PublishAmerica isn't. Soon we'll determine what it is.

I'm intent on proving that PublishAmerica is a vanity press because that's part of what this debate is about: "Resolved, PublishAmerica is a vanity press."

Does it matter that iUniverse, Xlibris and AuthorHouse advertise themselves as self publishers? Is it okay for vanity publishers to claim to be self publishers, but it isn't okay for a publisher to claim not to be a vanity publisher? What iUniverse, Xlibis, and AuthorHouse claim to be doesn't particularly interest me. We both know what they are: vanity presses. They are widely acknowledged as vanity presses throughout the publishing world; even PublishAmerica's Infocenter has identified them as vanity presses. That isn't the subject of our discussion, however.

No, it isn't okay for a vanity press to claim to be a self-publisher. Nor is it okay for a vanity press to claim to be a trade publisher, an academic publisher, a university press, or a textbook publisher, even though we can find examples of all of these things.
==============
I promised a couple of other lists of publishing categories, to see if we can more accurately determine what kind of publisher PublishAmerica is.

May I present these for discussion?

First, from Bookjobs.com: About Publishing: Types of Publishing
They list several categories of publishers, many of which will be familiar from Mr. Germano's discussion:
* Trade Publishing
* Professional and Scholarly Publishing
* Educational Publishing
* University Presses
* Independent Publishers
* Alternative Media (E-books and Audiobooks)
* Other types of publishing and related businesses

Of those, the last category ("Other") is one that I would like to examine most closely. I'll quote that section here:

OTHER TYPES OF PUBLISHING AND RELATED BUSINESSES
Subsidy Press/Vanity Publisher
A publishing company that offers publication services for a fee paid by the author, and holds the copyright to the book, but does not generally promote or market the book. Bookstores often refuse to carry books published by subsidy/vanity presses, and such books are rarely reviewed.

Contract Publisher
A publisher that helps authors edit, design, market, and distribute their book for a fee paid by the author.

Self-Publishing
A method of publishing in which the author does all the things a publisher does—from editing to printing and distribution.

Regional Publisher
A publisher who specializes in subjects relevant to a particular part of the country, and sells its books mostly or entirely in that area.

Fulfillment House
A company that handles the entire ordering process for books, such as storing, packing, mailing, maintaining records, and other sales-related operations for the author or publisher.

Packagers (Also known as Book Producers or Book Developers)
Companies specializing in creating books up to the printing stage, at which point a publishing company takes over handling the book. Although publishers most often contract directly with freelance authors and use their own staffs to prepare books for publication, publishers sometimes take on books prepared by packagers. The packager's name may appear on the copyright page, but the publisher is always identified on the spine. What do we know about PublishAmerica, and how closely does it resembles a vanity press?

Here are the characteristics of a vanity press:
* A fee is paid by the author
* The publisher holds the copyright
* The publisher generally does not promote or market
* Bookstores often refuse to carry the books
* The books are rarely reviewed.

Of those, PublishAmerica unequivocally matches four of the items. (This list is sloppy in one regard: the vanity (or any other) publisher doesn't usually hold the copyright, but does hold the publishing rights.)

Can you go along with this so far?
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James D. Macdonald Posted: Feb 22 2006, 11:48 PM

Here's another classification system for publishing, this time in the form of a decision box. The original is here: Scrivener's Error

I regret that I don't know how to construct a table using this messageboard software, so I'll have to alter the format:
* IF the author owns the books as they come off the press AND guaranteed capital flow on publishing date is away from author THEN we are looking at self publishing.
* IF the publisher owns the books as they come off the press AND guaranteed capital flow on publishing date is away from author THEN we are looking at vanity publishing.
* IF the author owns the books as they come off the press AND guaranteed capital flow on publishing date is toward the author THEN we are looking at a gift.
* IF the publisher owns the books as they come off the press AND guaranteed capital flow on publishing date is toward the author THEN we are looking at commercial publishing.

Would you agree with those classifications? Would you like to suggest any amendments?
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shelagh Posted: Feb 23 2006, 10:58 AM

Whether a publishing company is, or is not, a vanity press depends upon a set of criteria that defines "vanity press".

The free dictionary offers one criterion: the author pays for the service:
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/vanity+press

(shelagh)
Definition of: vanity press
n.
A publisher that publishes a book at the expense of the author. The official definition uses the same criterion (authors are charged for a service) and an additional criterion (author's work included in an anthology, which authors are invited to buy):

(shelagh)
VANITY PUBLISHER: OFFICIAL DEFINITION
(as accepted by the UK Advertising Standards Authority)
Vanity publishing, also self-styled (often inaccurately) as "subsidy", "joint-venture","sharedresponsibility", or even "self" publishing, is a service whereby authors are charged to have their work published. Vanity publishers generally offer to publish a book for a specific fee, or offer to include short stories, poems or other literary or artistic material in an anthology, which the authors are then invited to buy. Therefore any company that wants to charge you to publish your book is - by definition - a vanity publisher, whatever they may try to tell you to the contrary.

(James D. Macdonald)
Here are the characteristics of a vanity press:
* A fee is paid by the author
* The publisher holds the copyright
* The publisher generally does not promote or market
* Bookstores often refuse to carry the books
* The books are rarely reviewed.

Of those, PublishAmerica unequivocally matches four of the items.

The characteristic that PublishAmerica doesn't match is the first one: A fee is paid by the author.

This is the only characteristic that matches the dictionary definition and the official definition.

By both these definitions:

If a publisher provides a service whereby authors are not charged to have their work published then that publisher is not a vanity publisher.

Shelagh Watkins
Mr. Planemaker's Flying Machine
http://shelaghwatkins.co.uk/
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James D. Macdonald Posted: Feb 23 2006, 05:15 PM

Ah, but PublishAmerica does charge its authors for publication. They do it cleverly, but they do it indeed.

...an additional criterion (authors work included in an anthology, which authors are invited to buy). In PublishAmerica's case, it's the author's work printed in book form, which the authors are invited to buy.

That's The International Library of Poetry's trick. Anyone who submits a poem is a winner, and is never charged. (That was going on when Mr. Clifford formulated his definition.) The ILP, however, accepted everyone, and offered pre-orders for copies of the volume in which the poem would appear. They would take the pre-orders, and only print up that many. The volumes were incredibly over-priced ($50-$80 per copy). No one was ever forced to buy a copy, but they were induced to buy copies for themselves, and to urge their family and friends to buy copies. If even a small percentage of the authors whose poems were included in the book ordered copies, the International Library of Poetry made money.
Poetry.com: Free Poetry Contest, Poems, Publishing
International Library of Poetry Contests

Folks tried hard to write a poem that was so bad that the International Library of Poetry wouldn't accept it.

Wocky Jivvey

When the International Library of Poetry got started, and when Mr. Clifford wrote his definition, offset was the only way to get books printed. That's why the ILP needed pre-orders to set print runs. Print on Demand has come to them, too, so their last overpriced volume seems to have come out in 2002. Now they're selling overpriced POD poetry books, and other overpriced products back to the authors themselves.

Compare the prices for these products with the prices for the same products at Cafepress.com. (Just as an example: at Poetry.com a tote bag with your poem on it costs $34.95. At Cafepress.com, if you put your poem on an identical tote, it would cost you $12.99.)

It used to be that the ILP advertised in writers' magazines, newspapers, and the backs of comic books. But the internet changed everything: out here on the 'net you'll find the International Library of Poetry's main page, a constellation of happy poets announcing that their poems are semi-finalists or finalists, and another constellation of "basher" sites and newspaper articles denouncing the International Library of Poetry as a vanity press and a scam.

(If I were going to be snarky, I'd ask Rick Russell how many volumes from the International Library of Poetry he has in his used book shop and what prices they fetch among collectors.)

Look around and educate yourself about these folks; it'll be instructive. You may even see something that you've seen before in another form. From a "basher" site:

Does this mean if my poem was accepted, that my poem is BAD?
Absolutely not. It just means your poem was accepted. Nothing more, nothing less. See if this bit from the standard International Library of Poetry acceptance letter sounds familiar:
No Obligation Whatever
Before going any further (Author's Name), let me make one thing clear ... your poem was selected for publication, and as a contest semi-finalist, soley on the basis of merit. You are under no obligation whatsoever to submit any entry fee, any subsidy payment, or to make any purchase of any kind. Of course, many people do wish to own a copy of the publication in which their artistry appears. If this is the case, we welcome your order -- and guarantee your satisfaction. Please see the enclosed material for special discount information if you are interested in owning a copy of (Name of Anthology).
No obligation to buy. The author pays nothing. Yet the International Library of Poetry is a vanity press, and acknowledged as such by Mr. Clifford, and by you. It even falls under the simpler definition: a publisher that publishes a book at the expense of the author. There are only two sources of income in publishing -- the reading public, and the authors themselves. If the reading public isn't supplying the money, the authors assuredly must be.

Agreed so far?

Now let's look at another Maryland-based publisher: PublishAmerica.

PublishAmerica accepts nearly anything. Their selectivity (one of the hallmarks of a real publisher according to Mr. Germano's article that you yourself cited) is low.
Take these examples:
* Atlanta Nights (a book written deliberately badly, to test PublishAmerica's selectivity. PublishAmerica offered a contract).
* Eli Smith and the Purple Pony (the same thirty pages cut-and-pasted ten times to make book length, submitted to test PublishAmerica's selectivity. PublishAmerica offered a contract).
* Final Days (fifty pages from a book PublishAmerica had already printed, followed by ten pages cut-and-pasted eight times, submitted to test PublishAmerica's selectivity. PublishAmerica offered a contract).

You might argue that PublishAmerica didn't actually print any of those books, since the tests were revealed before the publication date. I am loathe to point out any books (other than test manuscripts) that PublishAmerica published which are badly-written to darn-near illiterate, since that would be attacking a fellow author. They do exist, I assure you.
I will point out one, though, since the author isn't just a bad writer, he's a plagiarist.

Writing poorly isn't a crime; copying another's words is.

That book is Prevent Cancer Today, by Pavel Tsupruk (PublishAmerica, July 2005). It is a word-for-word cut-and-paste job from a variety of online sites.

This is getting long. More in a bit.
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shelagh Posted: Feb 23 2006, 05:46 PM


(James D. Macdonald)
What iUniverse, Xlibis, and AuthorHouse claim to be doesn't particularly interest me. We both know what they are: vanity presses. I share the same disinterest in poetry anthologies. How many publishers do not offer their authors the opportunity to buy their own books at a discounted price?

Shelagh Watkins
Mr. Planemaker's Flying Machine
http://shelaghwatkins.co.uk/
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James D. Macdonald Posted: Feb 23 2006, 06:41 PM

Let us suppose that Author A bought ten thousand dollars worth of his own books from Vantage Press, and sold them all for twenty thousand dollars, a 100% profit. Does this mean that Vantage Press isn't a vanity publisher?

Let us suppose that Author B bought one hundred copies of his book from AuthorHouse, and placed them on consignment in twenty local bookstores. Does this mean that AuthorHouse isn't a vanity press?

Clearly not. The important fact isn't selling the books, or placing them in bookstores. The important fact is that the author bought multiple copies of his own book, and that the publishers' business models depended on it.

We know that "the author pays nothing" and "no obligation to buy" aren't proof that a press isn't a vanity publisher. Mr. Clifford's definition and the International Library of Poetry's examples suffice.

We know that PublishAmerica doesn't place its offerings in bookstores, that PublishAmerica doesn't market their books to bookstores or advertise them to the public. We know that PublishAmerica's books aren't selected with an eye to wide sales potential or even basic quality (ruling out trade publication as their classification). We know that sales to the public from PublishAmerica are meager at best, and can be accounted for by the author's family and friends special-ordering the books at various bookstores and on-line.

We know that money in publishing comes from one of two sources: the reading public, or the author.

We know that if the source of a publisher's income its own authors, that press is a vanity press.

Mr. Meiners, PublishAmerica's owner, admitted as much under oath, during an arbitration proceeding.

We know that PublishAmerica's authors are put under heavy and regular pressure to buy their own books. For example, The Published Author's Guide To Promotions, published by PublishAmerica and sold from their front page, recommends that authors buy multiple copies of their own books. PublishAmerica offers limited time, one-time author discounts when the book is first released, and sends frequent letters, using high-pressure sales tactics, urging authors to buy multiple copies of their own books.

January 2006:

In the last week of next month we will be putting new royalty statements and checks in the mail. To celebrate the million-dollar milestone, we are making a rare exception by presenting an unusual offer to those who, under Pars. 5 and 10 of their contract, volunteer to order copies of their own book in the last week of January.
Do not buy any books that you don't need or want. PublishAmerica authors are under no obligation whatsoever to buy their own books, in any way, at any time. However, some of you prefer to keep copies of their own book on hand, and though we rarely if ever pay royalties on author purchases, this celebratory offer is for those promotional tigers among you who fall under that category.
So here goes:
On all orders of 60 or more copies placed by the author, we will allow a 45 pct discount, plus we will pay royalties on those books! These royalties will be included in February's check!
Phone orders only, at 301 695 1707, full-color books are excluded, offer expires January 31. November 2005:
With the holiday season now upon us, this is the time to thank those bookstores. Therefore we are offering them a special discount that we are also making available to any individual, our own authors included, who consider this the ultimate book buying (and giving!) season:
25-50 copies of any book title: 40 pct discount;
51-100 copies: 45 pct discount;
101 or more copies: 50 pct discount.
To ensure delivery in time before the holidays, this offer expires December 8. Phone orders only at 301 695 1707. Full-color books are excluded. June 2005:

But there is more! To celebrate your successes, we are offering bookstores a special discount deal that we also extend to any individual who needs books on hand: This offer covers all of our titles except full-color picture books:
*between 25-50 books: 40 pct discount
*between 51-100 books: 45 pct discount + a copy of How to Upset a Goliath Book Biz for free!
*between 101-200 books: 50 pct discount + a copy of How to Upset a Goliath Book Biz for free!
*201 or more books: 55 pct discount + a copy of How to Upset a Goliath Book Biz for free!
The offer expires June 10. Orders by phone only, at 301-695-1707. Do you want me to prove that PublishAmerica's cover prices are far higher than those from trade presses, than those from presses that use the exact same technology, than those from admitted vanity presses? I'll be happy to do so, but I do hope that you'll agree that it's true, so we can continue with substantive matters.

It is clear, therefore, from Mr. Meiners' own admission, from the business model identical in every respect to that of an acknowledged vanity press, that PublishAmerica is also a vanity press.

But what kind of vanity press is it?

The answer is: an author mill.

Here's the definition of an author mill, taken from Writer Beware:
An author mill is a publisher that bases its business model on author volume (selling small numbers of books from a very large number of authors) rather than on book volume (selling large numbers of books from a limited number of authors, as commercial publishers do). Some of these publishers' catalogues include thousands of authors, most of them first-timers. Author mills don't usually charge fees, and often misleadingly present themselves as "traditional" publishers (see Deceptive Terminology, below)--but in practice they more closely resemble the fee-based PODs, with the same open acceptance policies, high prices, bookseller-unfriendly business practices, and minimal marketing and distribution. More from the discussion of vanity presses:

Pressure to buy your book yourself. The publisher may not contractually require you to purchase your own book--indeed, it may make a big deal of telling you that you don't have to buy anything--but will put you under heavy buying pressure even so. For instance, it may provide an Author Guide that extols the financial benefit of author purchases, or it may regularly offer special incentives designed to spur author purchases, such as extra discounts or contests for the month's top seller. These are all signs of a publisher that relies on its authors as its main customer base. Unfortunately, if the publisher employs such tactics, you usually don't find out about them until you've already signed the contract. From all this we can see, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that PublishAmerica belongs to the Family Vanity Press, and the Genus Author Mill.
-----
James D. Macdonald Posted: Feb 23 2006, 06:49 PM


How many publishers do not offer their authors the opportunity to buy their own books at a discounted price? Most publishers offer their authors the opportunity to buy their own books at a discounted price (though it is a day to day thing, not special offers with hurry-hurry-hurry language sent at regular intervals to those authors). If no author ever availed him or herself of that opportunity the publisher wouldn't notice.

PublishAmerica's regular author discount prices are equal to or higher than the full retail prices of similar books from legitimate trade publishers.

How many publishers rely on author purchases for the bulk of their income? Answer: one group. The vanity presses.

It is easily demonstrated that the bulk of PublishAmerica's income derives from author purchases. Therefore, PublishAmerica is a vanity press.

Shall we move on now to the second question?

Resolved: PublishAmerica engages in unfair trade practices including false and misleading advertising.
-----
shelagh Posted: Feb 23 2006, 08:10 PM

Are you saying that it is the vanity of the authors who buy their own books at special discount prices that determines whether or not a publisher is a vanity publisher?

Shelagh Watkins
Mr. Planemaker's Flying Machine
http://shelaghwatkins.co.uk/
-----
James D. Macdonald Posted: Feb 23 2006, 08:39 PM

Well, there is a reason it's called "vanity publishing."

The business model of vanity publishing is that their income is derived from their own authors' purchases. If they didn't have the authors they'd be out of business because they wouldn't have enough sales to keep the doors open and the lights on.

If you don't like the word "vanity" call it "subsidy" publishing. The authors subsidize the publisher.

The business model is still clear: the authors are the publisher's market.

iUniverse charges a subsidy fee up front. PublishAmerica charges it down back, as a surcharge on each copy sold. It's vanity on the installment plan.

Let's use an analogy here:

Say there's a casino. They have a rank of slot machines by the front door. Every time one of the gleaming chrome slot machines pays out, it rings bells and flashes lights.
Can that casino say "We aren't a casino because no one is forced to put any money into the slot machines"?

Say someone puts a coin into one of the slot machines, gets a jackpot, and walks away. Can the casino say "We aren't a casino because some people take out more than they put in"?

Think about that casino's business model. Where does its money come? Is it "taking a chance" on its slot machines?
-----
shelagh Posted: Feb 23 2006, 10:54 PM


(Sher2)
It is most decidedly NOT okay for PA to deny being a vanity publisher when, in fact, it is. I never intended to vanity publish, nor did most of my peers who got sucked into the PA scam. God, shelagh, how do you think it feels to have had no intention of going the vanity route and to then find out that you inadvertently did? Vanity publishing is perfectly fine for anyone who wants to go that route. If you didn't and if you find out after the fact that that's what your "publisher" is, it stinks. Duh.If Sher2 is being honest, and I have no reason to believe otherwise, then she sincerely believes that, when she signed a contract with PublishAmerica, she was not entering into a contract with a vanity publisher. Therefore, she would admit to buying no books. Since she entered into a contract not expecting to buy her own books and, even when offered the opportunity to do so, she would have declined the offer.

If she did decide to buy her own books, then she accepted that her decision to buy was vanity driven.

To use your analogy: if she saw a slot machine in a public place that she didn't realise was a casino, and then she put money into the slot machine, by doing so, she accepted that she was, infact, in a casino and she wanted to play.

In other words, authors who don't buy special offer discounted books from their publisher may believe that the publisher is not a vanity publisher, but authors who do buy books accept that their publisher is a vanity publisher.

One thing authors cannot do: claim that they didn't realise the publisher was a vanity publisher if they bought the books.

The vanity press definitions are clear enough but you want to add your own interpretation. Your "reasoned" argument is: this is the way it is because I say so.

Shelagh Watkins
Mr. Planemaker's Flying Machine
http://shelaghwatkins.co.uk/
-----
James D. Macdonald Posted: Feb 23 2006, 11:37 PM

I take it that you concede my points and agree that PublishAmerica is a vanity press.
If not, please engage my points.

Onward, then, to whether PublishAmerica engages in false and misleading advertising.
-----
shelagh Posted: Feb 24 2006, 12:09 AM


(James D. Macdonald @ Feb 23 2006, 11:37 PM)
I take it that you concede my points and agree that PublishAmerica is a vanity press.No. The verdict is: not proven.

iUniverse charges a subsidy fee up front. PublishAmerica charges it down back, as a surcharge on each copy sold. It's vanity on the installment plan.A 55% discount can hardly be called a surcharge! There is no pressure on authors to buy books. When authors pay a fee for a book to be published, the money goes directly to the publisher.

When authors buy books, they receive books with a market value. They can resell the books for a profit, give them as gifts or donate them to charitable organisations/ hospitals/schools. Authors have a great deal of control over the purchased books.
They can also decide not to buy.

Shelagh Watkins
Mr. Planemaker's Flying Machine
http://shelaghwatkins.co.uk/
-----
James D. Macdonald Posted: Feb 24 2006, 04:15 AM


No. The verdict is: not proven. I see that I'll have to go over this again.

PublishAmerica's poor selectivity, little to no promotion or advertising, lack of reviews, lack of bookstore penetration, lack of a catalogue, minimal production, scant editing, short discount, high prices, all point to the vanity press business model. These have been brought up, and never refuted, or even addressed. But I leave them aside for the moment.

Definition #1:

Definition of: vanity press
n.
A publisher that publishes a book at the expense of the author.Definition #2:

VANITY PUBLISHER: OFFICIAL DEFINITION
(as accepted by the UK Advertising Standards Authority)
Vanity publishing, also self-styled (often inaccurately) as "subsidy", "joint-venture","sharedresponsibility", or even "self" publishing, is a service whereby authors are charged to have their work published. Vanity publishers generally offer to publish a book for a specific fee, or offer to include short stories, poems or other literary or artistic material in an anthology, which the authors are then invited to buy.
Therefore any company that wants to charge you to publish your book is - by definition - a vanity publisher, whatever they may try to tell you to the contrary. You can hardly object to those since they are both definitions you yourself supplied.

By Definition #1 we know that iUniverse, Xlibris, AuthorHouse, Vantage, Dorrance, (and others) are vanity presses.

By observation we know that iUniverse, Xlibris, AuthorHouse, Vantage, and Dorrance offer books for sale to the general public through Ingram and various on-line venues including BN.com, Amazon.com, and their own websites. Therefore we know that the mere availability of books through BN.com, Amazon.com, and the publisher's website, or availabilty for order via Ingram, does not mean that a house is not a vanity publisher.
By Definition #2 we know that the International Library of Poetry is a vanity publisher.
From this we know that a publisher can be a vanity press even if no fees are charged in advance, or if some writers do not buy copies of their own books.

We know, by Mr. Meiner's statement under oath, that PublishAmerica's source of income is books purchased by their own authors. This makes them a vanity press under Definition #1.

We know that PublishAmerica's business practices are identical to those of the International Library of Poetry. This makes PublishAmerica a vanity press under Definition #2.

Therefore, PublishAmerica is proved to be a vanity press, beyond any reasonable doubt.

A 55% discount can hardly be called a surcharge! To what are you referring? PublishAmerica's cover prices are remarkably high. A discount on an artificially inflated price is still artificially inflated.

The 55% discount was available during one two-week period (see above: high-pressure sales tactics). It was only available to those who bought 201 or more copies of their own book. The typical PublishAmerica book is $19.95. The typical PublishAmerica book is 255 pages. (Both of these facts are easily checkable by going to Amazon and looking at all the releases from any random month.)

The price to print a 255 page book via Lightning Source is $4.215. (This comes from Lightning Source's rate card, which is publicly available. $0.013/page +$0.90 for the cover.)

A 55% discount on a $19.95 book is a cost of $8.978. The difference between cost to print and cost to the author is $4.852. That is to say, that "discounted" price has over a 100% markup included in it. There's your surcharge.

The $975.35 in net profit this brings in easily repays PublishAmerica's $300 in the book, with $675 to spare. Better than a 200% return on investment.

This is without considering the cost of shipping, which PublishAmerica charges extra.
PublishAmerica profits handsomely, without ever needing to sell a single copy to the general public. And, indeed, their entire marketing and promotional plan discourages sales to the general public.

Once again, a vanity press.

There is no pressure on authors to buy books. An astounding claim to make when I quoted three such inducements from the past year alone verbatim.

When authors pay a fee for a book to be published, the money goes directly to the publisher. Indeed it does. Larry Clopper claimed that PublishAmerica makes between four and six million dollars a year. The often-boasted-about sales through bookstores only account for a small percentage of that total. Where does the rest come from? Money going directly to the publisher from the author.

When authors buy books, they receive books with a market value. They can resell the books for a profit, give them as gifts or donate them to charitable organisations/hospitals/schools. Authors have a great deal of control over the purchased books. This is exactly the same as with iUniverse, Dorrance, or any of the other acknowledged vanity presses. It's utterly irrelevant.

They can also decide not to buy. The same is true of the International Library of Poetry, another acknowledged vanity press.
If every PublishAmerica author decided not to buy ... if a majority of PublishAmerica authors decided not to buy ... if a large enough minority decided not to buy ... PublishAmerica would go out of business. This is because the authors are their source of income. Definition #1.

To use your analogy: if she saw a slot machine in a public place that she didn't realise was a casino, and then she put money into the slot machine, by doing so, she accepted that she was, infact, in a casino and she wanted to play. No, that's false reasoning. What the individual does is immaterial. It's what the company does that's material. A casino isn't a casino for one person who passes by, but not a casino for another. It's the business model of the company that determines what kind of company it is, not the motives of the customers.

Caesar's Palace would have a hard time convincing the Nevada Gaming Commission that they aren't a casino, and therefore shouldn't be regulated like one, even if they located a thousand people who would come in and swear that they didn't play the slot machines.

MacAllister
05-09-2006, 03:35 PM
Oh, I'll leave the thread up, Shelagh--although for the life of me I can't imagine why you'd want that.

But I'll certainly lock it, and ban you. Again.

James D. Macdonald
05-09-2006, 07:27 PM
I'm briefly reopening this thread. Here's the rest of the debate.

=========================
shelagh: Feb 24 2006, 09:50 AM


Since you brought up the poetry anthologies again, here is an example of an anthology published by lulu.com:
QUOTE (Shelagh)The Stories of Strength anthology has sold less than 1,000 copies with over 100 contributors. That is less than 10 books per contributor. Lulu is a business, not a charity, and in order to make some money they offered a promotional package (bookmarks etc.) to make at least a small profit.

Authors who bought promotional materials, indirectly, paid for some of the books that were sold.
QUOTE (LloydBrown)
QUOTE (Shelagh)The Stories of Strength anthology has sold less than 1,000 copies with over 100 contributors. That is less than 10 books per contributor. But it's more than a copy a page, which is yet another totally irrelevant way to judge sales.

SoS has outsold, what, more than 95% of PA's titles? With (I'm guessing) $0 spent on promotion and 0 books bought by the authors. That just doesn't happen at PA.

It's not comparable in any way to the PA publishing experience.
QUOTE (Shelagh)
QUOTE (LloydBrown)SoS has outsold, what, more than 95% of PA's titles? With (I'm guessing) $0 spent on promotion and 0 books bought by the authors. That just doesn't happen at PA. You guessed wrong! I produced free bookmarks and posters for everyone to download and was severely ticked off about it! That didn't stop me asking my friends on MySpace.com to download a free poster and together we sent out bulletin messages to 7,988 members. I also bulletined my groups with a total of over 40,000 members.

I bought two books (one for me and one for my mother) and Amey bought twelve books.
QUOTE (LloydBrown)
QUOTE (Shelagh)You guessed wrong! I produced free bookmarks and posters for everyone to download and was severely ticked off about it! ...I bought two books (one for me and one for my mother) and Amey bought twelve books. So, you said nothing to disprove my estimate on the amount spent and writers accounted for 1% of book purchases.

Sure, I'll accept 99.5% accuracy on something on which I did no research.
QUOTE (Shelagh)
QUOTE (LloydBrown)So, you said nothing to disprove my estimate on the amount spent and writers accounted for 1% of book purchases.

Sure, I'll accept 99.5% accuracy on something on which I did no research. I can only speak for myself. If you go onto the Stories of Strength Board, you can ask how many contributors bought books/posters/bookmarks. On the first post of the "How many books have we sold so far?" thread, you will see that the biggest sale was on Nov. 1st (over 90 books sold) -- the release date. I know some orders were made at later dates for ten or more books (possibly for book signings) but I don't know who placed the orders.

I would suggest you do a bit more research!
QUOTE (LloydBrown)
QUOTE (Shelagh)I would suggest you do a bit more research! More than none, you mean? So my blind guesses could have been wrong. The Stories of Strength anthology has 308 pages:

308 x $0.013 = $4.004 + $0.90 = $4.904

"All proceeds go to charities for disaster relief." The actual amount: $5.06 per copy sold.

Retail price of SoS = $15.95

$15.95 - $4.904 = $11.046

$11.046 does not go to disaster relief charities; $5.06 does. Where does $5.986 go? Lulu.com are supposedly not taking their cut.
QUOTE (James D. Macdonald)A 55% discount on a $19.95 book is a cost of $8.978. The difference between cost to print and cost to the author is $4.852. That is to say, that "discounted" price has over a 100% markup included in it. There's your surcharge. For every SoS book sold, lulu.com is making $1.134 more profit than PA is on books sold to authors. Who is ripping off whom?

To add insult to injury, lulu.com produced a SoS promotional package at the give-away price of $49.95! What a snip! http://www.lulu.com/content/185088

It would seem that scammers are everywhere!

As to the International Library of Poetry, it should come under the heading of "parasitic vanity press" where lazy contributors who don't buy the anthologies gain at the expense of industrious contributors who do!

PublishAmerica is in no way similar to the International Library of Poetry.

As regards choosing a publisher, most reasonably intelligent people should have figured out exactly what they were signing up to before they signed their contract. I did.
-----
James D. Macdonald: Feb 25 2006, 03:22 AM


QUOTE PublishAmerica is in no way similar to the International Library of Poetry. PublishAmerica is exactly identical to the International Library of Poetry, an acknowledged vanity press. Please pay attention to their business model.



They accept nearly everything, regardless of quailty
They do not require their authors to make any purchases
Their source of income is authors' purchases
Lulu.com is off-topic. But to address it simply: Lulu.com is a printer and the author is self-publishing when the author owns the ISBN. Lulu.com is a vanity press when Lulu.com owns the ISBN.

I freely acknowledge that there are many vanity presses other than Dorrance, Vantage, iUniverse, AuthorHouse, and Xlibris. Popping up with the name of some other publisher and saying, in effect, "Look at them! They're a vanity press too!" in no way detracts from the identification of PublishAmerica as a vanity press.

Please note that there is nothing illegal or immoral about being a vanity press. Vanities have their place in the world of publishing.

If you feel that PublishAmerica is in some variety of publishing business other than vanity publication, I invite you to prove it. You suggested that they are a trade press (Mr. Germano's category one). If they are, present your evidence.

This will be important soon, since PublishAmerica has claimed, repeatedly, that they are not a vanity press. This speaks directly to the next point, that PublishAmerica engages in unfair trade practices and false and misleading advertising. Those are indeed both illegal and immoral.
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shelagh: Feb 25 2006, 10:12 AM

These two statements:
QUOTE (James D. Macdonald)No, it isn't okay for a vanity press to claim to be a self-publisher.
QUOTE (James D. Macdonald)No, that's false reasoning. What the individual does is immaterial. It's what the company does that's material. A casino isn't a casino for one person who passes by, but not a casino for another. It's the business model of the company that determines what kind of company it is, not the motives of the customers. contradict this statement:
QUOTE (James D. Macdonald) Lulu.com is off-topic. But to address it simply: Lulu.com is a printer and the author is self-publishing when the author owns the ISBN. Lulu.com is a vanity press when Lulu.com owns the ISBN. By your own words, "It's the business model of the company that determines what kind of company it is, not the motives of the customer."

So, how can a business model be self-publishing when dealing with one customer and vanity publishing when dealing with another customer?
-----
James D. Macdonald: Feb 25 2006, 02:16 PM


QUOTE So, how can a business model be self-publishing when dealing with one customer and vanity publishing when dealing with another customer? No contradiction, Shelagh. Do you honestly not understand this? Lulu's actual overarching business is "printer." Do you not understand that they have essentially two divisions?

You're asking me, in effect, "How can the same automobile lot be both a new car dealership and a used car dealership?"

Who owns the ISBN? That's a quick, easy test.

If PublishAmerica is some kind of publisher other than a vanity publisher, which are they? If you can't suggest one and support your argument, take it as proved that they're a vanity press and let's go on.

***

On to PublishAmerica's false and misleading advertising.

From the PublishAmerica main website:


QUOTE Self publishing a book tends to be a huge hassle, full of unforeseen pitfalls. At Publish America, our goal is to help you get published free. And when you get published by Publish America, you eliminate all the problems associated with self publishing a book. Book publishing is our specialty, so to get published free - choose Publish America! Get Published Free (http://www.publishamerica.com/get-published-free/)

Notice the words "you eliminate all the problems associated with self publishing a book."

Do you really?

The "problems associated with self publishing a book" include:


Author must do all advertising for his/her book
Author must do all publicity for his/her book
Poor market penetration
Author must approach individual bookstores
Poor general public opinion of self-published books
Lack of reviews in major venues
Bookstores often refuse to carry them
Author must obtain own copyright registration
PublishAmerica eliminates none of those.

What problems associated with self-publishing does PublishAmerica eliminate?

Author must obtain ISBN
Author must locate a printer
Since, as we've seen, the question of who owns the ISBN is one that differentiates the self publisher from the vanity publisher, this doesn't redound to PublishAmerica's credit.

Should that paragraph of PublishAmerica's be re-written, "Hey, kid, you just found yourself a printer"?

No, because we've already stipulated that PublishAmerica is a publisher, not a printer.

False and misleading. Next example in my next.
-----
shelagh: Feb 25 2006, 03:08 PM


QUOTE (James D. Macdonald)"They all seem to be self-publishing, vanity presses (category five)."

Okay, all five (Vantage, Dorrance, iUniverse, Xlibris, and AuthorHouse) are vanity presses.

Let's not confuse self-publication with vanity publication, shall we?

With self-publication the author retains all the rights, and takes all the profits.
This statement is false. Authors do not take all the profits. Even when lulu.com print/publish an anthology that states that all the proceeds go to disaster relief charities, they still take a greater share of the profits (according to your breakdown of costs):
QUOTE (James D. Macdonald)The price to print a 255 page book via Lightning Source is $4.215. (This comes from Lightning Source's rate card, which is publicly available. $0.013/page +$0.90 for the cover.)

A 55% discount on a $19.95 book is a cost of $8.978. The difference between cost to print and cost to the author is $4.852. That is to say, that "discounted" price has over a 100% markup included in it. There's your surcharge.

The $975.35 in net profit this brings in easily repays PublishAmerica's $300 in the book, with $675 to spare. Better than a 200% return on investment.
QUOTE (Shelagh)The Stories of Strength anthology has 308 pages:

308 x $0.013 = $4.004 + $0.90 = $4.904

"All proceeds go to charities for disaster relief." The actual amount: $5.06 per copy sold.

Retail price of SoS = $15.95

$15.95 - $4.904 = $11.046

$11.046 does not go to disaster relief charities; $5.06 does. Where does $5.986 go? Lulu.com are supposedly not taking their cut. You didn't explain about the $5.986 that doesn't go to disaster relief charities. According to you a net profit of $975.35 from the sale of 201 books repays $300 production costs and leaves a profit of $675.

Currently, 931 copies of SoS have been sold giving lulu.com a net profit of:

931 x $5.986 = $5,572.966

Deducting $300 production costs leaves a profit of $5,272.96

That's profit to lulu.com, not proceeds to charity. The amount raised so far?

931 x $5.06 = $4,710.86

That's $5,272.96 to lulu.com, $4,710.86 to disaster relief charities.

Now, that's what I call a disaster!
-----
James D. Macdonald: Feb 25 2006, 03:43 PM


QUOTE You didn't explain about the $5.986 that doesn't go to disaster relief charities. According to you a net profit of $975.35 from the sale of 201 books repays $300 production costs and leaves a profit of $675. You forgot to subtract the bookstore discount in your cost breakdown. Most likely there's your $5.99.

A 308-page book from PublishAmerica would retail for $24.95. You honestly don't want me to run the math on that.

Stories of Strength was vanity published. Books from PublishAmerica are also vanity published.

Move on.

***

Next bit of false and misleading advertising from PublishAmerica:

QUOTE We here at Publish America are expert children's book publishers. We know that children's book publishing is an extremely fulfilling and satisfying experience for many authors, and our goal is to make children's book publishing as easy and fun as possible. Other childrens book publishers can make the experience for a first-time author much more difficult than it needs to be. In addition, the majority of children's book publishers do not allow the author to retain the copyright of their book. When you use us as your childrens book publisher, you will always retain the rights over your children's book. Children's Book Publishers (http://www.publishamerica.com/childrens-book-publishers/)

(Similarly for poetry (http://www.publishamerica.com/poetry-publishers/), Christian (http://www.publishamerica.com/christian-book-publishers/), and mystery, science fiction, and suspense (http://www.publishamerica.com/fiction-publisher/).)

Please note this line:

"In addition, the majority of children's book publishers do not allow the author to retain the copyright of their book."

This is a flat lie. You can prove it yourself with a stroll through any bookshop, looking at the copyright pages of children's (or Christian, or poetry, or suspense, or mystery, or science fiction) books.

False and misleading advertising. Proven.
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shelagh: Feb 25 2006, 04:56 PM


QUOTE (James D. Macdonald @ Feb 25 2006, 03:43 PM)QUOTE You didn't explain about the $5.986 that doesn't go to disaster relief charities. According to you a net profit of $975.35 from the sale of 201 books repays $300 production costs and leaves a profit of $675. You forgot to subtract the bookstore discount in your cost breakdown. There's your $5.99. Another false statement.

667 books were sold by lulu.com, 23 were sold in UK retail stores (Bertrams discount 25%) and 241 (Ingrams discount 15%) in US retail stores.

667 x $15.95 = $10,638.65

241 x $13.557 = $3,267.35

23 x $11.96 = $275.13

Net total = $14,101.1375

931 x 5.06 = $4,710.86 (donations to charity)

931 x $4.904 = $4,565.62 (cost of printing)

Production cost = $300

Total = $9,576.48

$14,710.86 - $9,576.48 = $5134.37

That's $5,134.37 to lulu.com, $4,710.86 to disaster relief charities.

I don't mind doing the maths.
-----
James D. Macdonald: Feb 25 2006, 05:25 PM


QUOTE Another false statement. Another false statement? When did I make my first false statment?

You said:
QUOTE
The Stories of Strength anthology has 308 pages:

308 x $0.013 = $4.004 + $0.90 = $4.904

"All proceeds go to charities for disaster relief." The actual amount: $5.06 per copy sold.

Retail price of SoS = $15.95

$15.95 - $4.904 = $11.046

$11.046 does not go to disaster relief charities; $5.06 does. Where does $5.986 go? Lulu.com are supposedly not taking their cut. You neglected the bookstore discount. It's not mentioned. It's not there. You forgot about it.
QUOTE I don't mind doing the maths. Fine. Do them on PublishAmerica. This debate is about PublishAmerica.

I accept that you concede that PublishAmerica is a vanity press.

***

PublishAmerica says:
QUOTE FACT #5: PublishAmerica is NOT in any way a POD, vanity press, or subsidy publisher, and has nothing in common with them. Obviously, our authors are also not being self-published. In the most commonly used context, POD indicates "Publish On Demand", or vanity publishing. Vanity publishers charge for their "services". Some charge a few hundred dollars, others a thousand or more. We are not in that league, in any way, shape or fashion. Book Publishing Companies - Book Publishing Company (http://www.publishamerica.com/facts/index.htm)

While all the "facts" on that page are misleading to some extent, this one is perhaps the most egregious.

First, PublishAmerica is clearly, beyond doubt, a POD press. POD means "Print On Demand." When one order is received, one copy is printed. That's Print On Demand, by definition. In short, PublishAmerica is lying. False and misleading advertising. Proved.

"NOT in any way a ... vanity press, or subsidy press, and has nothing in common with them."

As I've proved, and you've conceded, PublishAmerica is indeed a vanity or subsidy press.

Items that PublishAmerica has in common with vanity or subsidy presses include:


A fee is paid by the author
The publisher holds the copyright
The publisher generally does not promote or market
Bookstores often refuse to carry the books
The books are rarely reviewed.
"Obviously, our authors are also not being self-published."

The strawman fallacy, and a non sequitur.
QUOTE In the most commonly used context, POD indicates "Publish On Demand", or vanity publishing. First, "Print On Demand" and "Publish On Demand" are exactly equivalent terms. Second, Print On Demand does not necessarily indicate vanity publishing. Vanity publishing can use other business models entirely, nor is every print on demand business a vanity press.
QUOTE Vanity publishers charge for their "services". Some charge a few hundred dollars, others a thousand or more. We are not in that league, in any way, shape or fashion. PublishAmerica does indeed charge for its services, in the form of a surcharge on every book purchased. Vanity publishing on the installment plan.

And they are exactly in that league in terms of dollars charged.
-----
shelagh: Feb 25 2006, 06:04 PM


QUOTE (James D. Macdonald)I accept that you concede that PublishAmerica is a vanity press. No, I don't. I will leave "the world" to make up its own mind:
QUOTE (Nexusman)Facts are facts, knowledge is knowledge, and the world is the world. These cannot be changed but only perceived in different ways. I think we all stand to gain from this debate by seeing how the facts are perceived and interpreted by both parties. Ownership of copyright
Many agreements with publishers request that copyright owners assign ownership of copyright in a work to the company, rather than allowing the author to retain the rights. In this context, copyright owners need to consider whether they are willing to give up their rights in order to get a work published.

This link discusses the problems of who owns copyright (which PublishAmerica avoids by asking the authors to register with the US copyright office and remain the sole owner of the copyright): http://www.ivanhoffman.com/own.html

QUOTE (James D. Macdonald)You neglected the bookstore discount. It's not mentioned. It's not there. You forgot about it. What's your game?


QUOTE (Shelagh)667 books were sold by lulu.com, 23 were sold in UK retail stores (Bertrams discount 25%) and 241 (Ingrams discount 15%) in US retail stores.

667 x $15.95 = $10,638.65
241 x $13.557 = $3,267.35
23 x $11.96 = $275.13

Net total = $14,101.1375

931 x 5.06 = $4,710.86 (donations to charity)
931 x $4.904 = $4,565.62 (cost of printing)
Production cost = $300

Total = $9,576.48

$14,710.86 - $9,576.48 = $5134.37

That's $5,134.37 to lulu.com, $4,710.86 to disaster relief charities.
-----
James D. Macdonald: Feb 25 2006, 06:59 PM


QUOTE What's your game? What's yours?

The entire Stories of Strength/Lulu.com digression that you brought up, and seem unable to leave alone, is a red herring mixed with a giant tu quoque. If you have a point, make it. Otherwise, please return to discussing PublishAmerica.
-----
James D. Macdonald: Feb 25 2006, 07:14 PM


QUOTE Ownership of copyright
Many agreements with publishers request that copyright owners assign ownership of copyright in a work to the company, rather than allowing the author to retain the rights. In this context, copyright owners need to consider whether they are willing to give up their rights in order to get a work published.

This link discusses the problems of who owns copyright (which PublishAmerica avoids by asking the authors to register with the US copyright office and remain the sole owner of the copyright):

http://www.ivanhoffman.com/own.html When you read that article, you'll discover that in work-for-hire projects that the publisher is the author under the law, and the author retains the copyright.

You'll also discover, if you read the article that you yourself cited, that the author may not be able to give up copyright, nor the publisher to take it, even if both desire that it be so.

You'll further discover, in the article that you yourself cited, that under most circumstances the author retains copyright regardless of whether the author or the publisher registers it.

While ownership of copyright is negotiable, in normal trade publishing most times the author retains the copyright.

You will discover, if you take the small step of examining the copyright pages of books actually found in bookstores as a reality check, that it is true that the author most times retains copyright.

PublishAmerica's repeated claim that "In addition, the majority of {various genre} book publishers do not allow the author to retain the copyright of their book" is a flat lie. That is, false and misleading advertising

Do you concede the point?
-----
shelagh: Feb 25 2006, 07:21 PM

QUOTE (James D. Macdonald)Do you concede the point?
No.

QUOTE Editorial Note: This article is written from the point of view of a publisher and from that point of view, the article advocates that the Publisher own all rights. http://www.ivanhoffman.com/childrenspublishing.html
-----
James D. Macdonald: Feb 25 2006, 07:52 PM

From the article you yourself cited:

QUOTEOwnership of the Copyright. Related to the issue of the grant of rights above is the issue of which party is going to own the right of copyright in and to that party’s contribution. Read “Who Shall Own the Copyright in a Book Publishing Agreement?” Often an uninformed publisher is tempted to call a relationship a work made for hire relationship and presume that that is the end of the matter. In fact, a work made for hire requires a number of specific conditions to be valid including but not limited to that the publisher must have “specially ordered and commissioned” the contribution. Thus, if a contributor has previously written the text and/or drawn the illustrations and then approaches a publisher, that relationship will not qualify as a work made for hire. Thus the contract has to be structured differently. Read the several articles on my site dealing with works made for hire. Click on “Articles for Writers and Publishers.” No matter which way the copyright ownership issues shakes out, it is important that the contract cover the rights of the parties inter se, i.e. between them. This is often a very overlooked set of provisions and should include issues about derivative works, restrictions on the use of the copyright, if appropriate and other similar and related issues. and
QUOTE Conclusion

I am constantly amazed at how many publishers contend that they want to be successful but end up setting themselves up so that they can only fail. The writing and publishing of children’s books is one such instance. The way many publishers set up their “contracts” creates a situation where if the book is a failure they lose but if the book is the one in a hundred that is successful, they lose as well since they have failed to adequately acquire and preserve their contract and intellectual property rights. When a book is successful, you cannot count the number of claims that will come out of the woodwork and everyone runs to lawyers thereby causing the parties to spend thousands of dollars on attorneys fees, court costs, damages and the like. Thus the attempt at “saving” money turns out to be enormously expensive. Read “The Do It Yourself Publishing Lawyer.”

All that might have been avoided through the exercise of vision and planning for success. And through the use of thoroughly drafted agreements covering the many issues that can arise in a complex relationship.

There is no one that is going to protect you and your rights except you. And this applies to “you” whether you are a publisher, author, illustrator, artist or editor. Exercise your personal responsibility. While Mr. Hoffman, as a publishers' attorney, recommends that publishers acquire all rights, the plain fact is that in most cases they don't.

Conclusion: By your own cited article, PublishAmerica lied when it said "In addition, the majority of children's book publishers do not allow the author to retain the copyright of their book."

This is false and misleading advertising on the part of PublishAmerica.

Therfore, PublishAmerica indulges in unfair trade practices.

***

Let's move on to the next false and misleading bit:
QUOTE FACT #9: Does the use of the digital on-demand printing technology make a publisher a POD house? No, it does not. Of course not. According to www.acronymfinder.com (http://www.acronymfinder.com), there are 57 different meanings for POD, from Post Office Department to Point Of Departure to Proof Of Delivery. In our world, POD is vanity publishing, and PublishAmerica is no vanity publisher, by any stretch of the imagination. This is false and misleading in the following ways:

Print On Demand does not require the use of digital printing, nor does digital printing imply Print On Demand.

What makes a publisher a Print On Demand publisher is that they Print on (ready for this?) Demand. That is, when an order comes in, they run off however many copies were ordered.

POD does not mean vanity, and vanity does not mean POD.

PublishAmerica, while admitting what they can't very well deny, that they use digital printing technology to produce their books, attempts to muddy the waters.

Let's break that "fact" of theirs down a little more:


QUOTE Does the use of the digital on-demand printing technology make a publisher a POD house? No, it does not. Of course not. What makes a house a POD house is using the POD business model, which PublishAmerica does. They seem intent on claiming that they aren't a POD house, when in fact they are. The common name for what they're doing here is "lying."
QUOTE According to www.acronymfinder.com (http://www.acronymfinder.com), there are 57 different meanings for POD, from Post Office Department to Point Of Departure to Proof Of Delivery. This is a red herring. Its only purpose is to confuse the issue.

QUOTE In our world, POD is vanity publishing, and PublishAmerica is no vanity publisher, by any stretch of the imagination. This is not true. POD is not of necessity vanity publishing, nor is vanity publishing POD. PublishAmerica is a POD publisher. PublishAmerica is also a vanity publisher, by any commonly accepted definition, including both of the definitions that you yourself gave.

As an aside, why do you think PublishAmerica spends so much time claiming they aren't a vanity publisher? Can you name any actual non-vanity publisher that gives the matter a second thought?

The reason PublishAmerica keeps denying the fact that they are a vanity publisher is because they give people so many reasons to think that they are.
-----
shelagh: Feb 25 2006, 08:06 PM

For what it's worth: I looked among the paperbacks on my own bookshelves and found a number of books that showed copyright owned by publishers:

(Author's name) has asserted his right under the Copyrights, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

Among these books, three were written by John Grisham:

Copyright Belfry Holdings, Inc. (date)

John Grisham has asserted his right under the Copyrights, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
-----
James D. Macdonald: Feb 25 2006, 08:24 PM

Mr. Grisham incorporated himself as "Belfry Holdings, Inc." Once one reaches a certain income level there are important tax reasons for incorporation. The publishers for his various books are ... various.

The Brethern is copyrighted by Belfry Holdings and published by Arrow. A Painted House is copyrighted by Belfry Holdings and published by Century. The Testament is copyrighted by Belfry Holdings and published by Doubleday. And so on.

Sassenach
05-09-2006, 07:46 PM
If Shelagh spent even a fraction of the time she spend trolling working on her writing...

James D. Macdonald
05-09-2006, 08:09 PM
shelagh: Feb 25 2006, 10:00 PM


QUOTE (Roach)So I went to Lulu and used their price calculator. Typing in a 308 perfect bound 6 x 9 book gives me a production price of $10.86. In my calculation, I added the same production cost ($300) you used in your calculation of how much profit PublishAmerica made on the sale of 201 books at a discount of 55%.

Either your estimate is way out or lulu.com are lying about their production costs. You can't both be right.

A book you published to discredit PublishAmerica drew this comment:


QUOTE (Omega12596)
but some of the outcome was not all positive. To which you replied:


QUOTE (James D. Macdonald)Could you expand on what parts of the outcome were not positive? One outcome is that when it comes to discussing deceitful practices, you have no credibility whatsoever.
-----
James D. Macdonald: Feb 26 2006, 12:31 AM


QUOTE One outcome is that when it comes to discussing deceitful practices, you have no credibility whatsoever. I overlook your ad hominem, and shall continue to discuss PublishAmerica's false and misleading advertising.

Please notice that that book -- Atlanta Nights -- did a wonderful job of discrediting PublishAmerica's claims that they are selective.

Here are just a few of those claims:


QUOTE Its founders decided that a well-written book is worth publication if the author can convince a publishing company that there are at least the seeds of a market out there, and that the author's talent holds a promise for the future.
zurl="http://www.publishamerica.com/aboutus.htm"]http://www.publishamerica.com/aboutus.htm[/url]


QUOTE If a book is good and well-written, traditional publishing is becoming available again. http://www.publishamerica.com/benefits.htm


QUOTE We review not only the quality but also the genre of their work. http://www.publishamerica.com/facts/index.htm


QUOTE Let's face it, isn't it much more rewarding to be able to tell your friends that you were actually paid to be published? That some publisher out there actually read, judged, and accepted your book? http://www.authorsmarket.net/yourbook.htm


QUOTE Your manuscript will be reviewed by our Acquisitions staff, who will determine whether your work has what this book publisher is looking for. http://www.publishamerica.com/authorinfo.htm

"What this book publisher is looking for"? What that book publisher is looking for is an author who will buy (on average) seventy-five copies of his or her own book.

Misleading advertising. No wonder authors think that their books had been read and accepted based on quality.

It's obvious that no one at PublishAmerica read even one page of Atlanta Nights before they sent an acceptance and a contract (which we refused to sign). You can read the full text here (http://www.embiid.net/books/books.asp?793777024&P=331&C=0) for free.

Tell me honestly that you, if you were an acquiring editor, would read that and say "By golly, this is a book that should be published!"
-----
shelagh: Feb 26 2006, 08:38 AM

Advertising your own book really is bad form. Even a member of the AW forum has already accused me of using this forum to promote my own book:


QUOTE (DeePower)
I posted and it's gone. No explanation. Guess you can't take the heat. You know I think you're engaging in this debate just in a vain attempt to promote your book.

Dee I nearly fell off my chair laughing at "vain attempt".

ad hominem tu quoque -- do as I say, not as I do never won any arguments.

Before you quote "from sea to shining sea", listen to the embarrassment in the voice of the interviewer close to the end of this telephone conversation. When people know something is trivial, their own sense of what is important shows through and undermines them.

http://www.talkaboutservice.net (http://www.talkaboutservice.net/)

The interview doesn't seem to be there anymore, you can download it here:

http://www.yourfilelink.com/get.php?fid=58057
-----
James D. Macdonald: Feb 26 2006, 03:03 PM[/left]


QUOTE Your submitted manuscript will be reviewed by our skilled and thorough Acquisitions staff, who will determine whether or not your work has what it takes to be a PublishAmerica book. PublishAmerica's Main Page (http://www.publishamerica.com/)

Right. You concede that Atlanta Nights proved that PublishAmerica is not selective, and that their advertising is false and misleading when they claim that they are.

Onward to more false and misleading advertising, and yet another example of PublishAmerica's vanity nature.


QUOTE As soon as we contract a book, we issue an ISBN. At that point, we submit the book to our wholesalers and wholesalers, such as Ingram, Baker&Taylor, Brodart, etc., who process it in their computer systems that have direct connections to bookstore computer systems nationwide. That is how a book becomes available through all American bookstores from sea to shining sea. F.A.Q.'s (http://www.publishamerica.com/faqs.htm)

Available "through" bookstores is far different from available "in" bookstores.

Do authors read that to mean "in" bookstores? They do:


QUOTE "l will like to thank publishamerica very much for making me a new author. Thank you publishamerica. My book is such a wonderful book of poems to read. lt is available now on publishamerica's online book store. Soon it will also be available in the bookstores in U.S." PublishAmerica Testimonials (http://www.publishamerica.com/testimonials/default.asp?Page=114)

PublishAtlantica (as they now call themselves) could claim that their books are stocked in bookstores from Lancashire to Wales. Would this be literally true? Yes (or I presume so, based on whether you managed to talk any local bookshop owners into stocking your own book), but would it be misleading? Yes.

You might object that I excerpted the above unfairly; the whole contains cautions that stocking is not automatic. Here is the whole quote from the FAQs:


QUOTE Question: How does my book end up in Waldenbooks or at Amazon.com?

Answer:Ever noticed that barcode on a book's cover? It contains a lot of hidden information. Most of all, it tells the bookstore cash register the book's ISBN and who its publisher is. The International Standard Book Number is like the book's fingerprint. It is issued by the publisher who, in turn, had the number issued to them by ISBN headquarters in Florida. Without an ISBN, a book gets nowhere. With it, it is recognized worldwide: it indicates title, author and publisher, even the retail price. Clearly, each ISBN is unique.

As soon as we contract a book, we issue an ISBN. At that point, we submit the book to our wholesalers and wholesalers, such as Ingram, Baker&Taylor, Brodart, etc., who process it in their computer systems that have direct connections to bookstore computer systems nationwide. That is how a book becomes available through all American bookstores from sea to shining sea.

There are also many independent bookstores, including thousands of Christian bookstores. By looking into the book's ISBN, they know how to order fast by ordering a book directly from the publisher or through their wholesaler (as most stores do). Finally, there is this fast-growing number of Internet bookstores, such as Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Chapters.ca, Borders.com and many others. Some order directly from the publisher, others through a wholesaler.

Now, a word of caution is in order. Bookstore availability is not necessarily the same as bookstore shelf display. For a book to be stocked by a bookstore, someone high in the hierarchy must decide to order it. Typically, it's not the store manager who makes such decisions, unless he runs an independent store. Larger chains such as Waldenbooks, Barnes & Noble, and Borders have "buyers" who select which titles are to be stocked. Oftentimes, they want to see some noise happening before they move.

Local bookstores like to be able to demonstrate that there is demand for a book. If they can show demand, their superiors (those "buyers") may permit them to stock. And since a book on display helps create demand, a ripple effect begins. This is why it is so important that authors turn themselves into the center of all local attention. Face it, you're no John Grisham or Nora Roberts, not yet. So you must not only beat the drum, but be the drum major as well. All successful marketing begins at home.

Many authors are very creative at this. Just browse through our author message board to see how inventive your fellow authors are. Or click on our What's New? section. There are book signings with PublishAmerica authors virtually every day in bookstores all over the fruited plain. Not a day goes by without one of our authors being profiled, interviewed or mentioned in newspapers, magazines, radio, or TV. Some authors become very accomplished public speakers about their book's topic, or about book writing in general. Others carry flyers and business cards around that they hand out anywhere they go. And then there are some whose efforts get a big boost when they discover that a movie star has agreed to a reading of their book as a potential movie script (among others, actors Michelle Pfeiffer and John Travolta have been reviewing some of our titles).

Today's author must be active, and he must be innovative. As is the case with all objects of art and creation, there are hurdles to be scaled: there's 190,000 other authors out there whose new book will be released by the nation's 50,000+ publishers this year, there are bookstore managers who are reluctant to stock unknown books even if they can return copies that remain unsold, and, plain and simple, there's jealous peers to deal with, folks who don't want you to be successful. So what else is new? Nothing at all, but it's good to back up words of caution with a reality check.

Taken as a whole, that passage suggests that it is possible for a PublishAmerica book to be stocked on a national level. So far this has never happened, with (a claimed) 17,000 authors under contract, any time in the past seven years. They imply that it is possible to carry out a thing that cannot be done. Their description of how national chain bookstores go about stocking books is wrong.

How wrong is it? PublishAmerica contradicted it themselves in September 2005:


QUOTE A bookstore's decision to stock a book is generally made by the manager. A bookstore typically stocks just one percent of the 190,000 new books that are published each year. For bookstores to stock all books published would mean adding 20 feet of new shelf space every day, seven days per week. Therefore bookstore managers must be selective on what books they choose. At most, one of those two statements could be true. Is the decision to stock a book made by the manager or not?

It's literally true, but misleading, to claim that there are 50,000+ publishers. To do that you have to count every self-publisher as a publisher. Self-publishers, like vanity-publishers, aren't competing for bookstore space. Misleading.

Here's PublishAmerica's inducement to authors to buy their own books from last September:


QUOTE Please bear with us as we must do this gradually, in order to enable our wholesaler Ingram to accurately activate the new status on roughly eleven thousand books that are currently in print, starting with the titles that are selling more than 40 copies in September (libraries and individuals who order more than 40 copies this month are receiving a 40 pct discount; phone orders only at 301 695 1707).
That's vanity publishing. Proven. Again.

One more note:


QUOTE Not a day goes by without one of our authors being profiled, interviewed or mentioned in newspapers, magazines, radio, or TV. ... is a blatant appeal to vanity.


QUOTE FACT #3: Again, unparalleled among all traditional book publishing companies, each day an average 15 times a PublishAmerica author appears in the news media, in newspapers, magazines, radio or TV. The authors of this book publishing company have been interviewed, reviewed or introduced in literally thousands of newspapers across the country, from the Washington Post to the Clackamas County News, from the Kingwood Observer to the Los Angeles Times to Women's World Magazine. They have made appearances on local TV, and on national ABC, CNN, MSNBC and FOX TV. They also have been interviewed by radio shows hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, Don Imus, Diane Rehm, and Oliver North. Facts and Figures (http://www.publishamerica.com/facts/index.htm)

Vanity, and a chase after wind.
-----
shelagh: Feb 26 2006, 05:08 PM

I'm conceding nothing. This debate is for others to decide; it isn't a matter of you conceding to me or vice versa.

I won't be around next week, so if you would like to sum up your argument, I'll do the same and the information here can be used as people see fit.
-----
James D. Macdonald: Feb 26 2006, 11:30 PM

Here's my summary:

PublishAmerica is a vanity press.

PublishAmerica engages in unfair trade practices, including false and misleading advertising.

Q.E.D.
-----
shelagh: Feb 27 2006, 08:20 AM

The debate:


QUOTE (Canada James)I don't see it having any value other than Jim and Shelagh both arguing with themselves. I agree with Canada James. You requested a debate for your own reasons, but I accepted for a different purpose.

I agreed to this debate for one reason only: to prove that PublishAmerica authors are very badly treated by members of the Absolute Write forum. A point that was clearly demonstrated by MacAllister Stone:


QUOTE (MacAllister)I'm going to one more time reiterate that I know full well how frustrating this all gets for everyone--but we decided that the authors aren't the enemy, long ago. Shelagh, for example, at least is attempting to debate her side--instead of just hiding out on the PAMB and taking pot shots from where no one can answer...and this, after we banned her.

Well and good, then. No pot shots at the PA authors from here, either.

Thanks, folks, for your continued cooperation with this. If civility towards fellow authors, irrespective of their publisher, is the only good outcome of this debate then, for me, it will have been worth my time and effort.

dlcharles
05-09-2006, 08:24 PM
Personally, after reading the entirety twice, I still find it immensely interesting. Whether one chooses to use any of the mentioned 'publishers', or not, is basically up to the individual.


Would I now contemplate PA as a potential - not a chance, but that is my personal choice from all the pros/cons I have read on them.

Good job all! Open discussions which allow each side to express a viewpoint is priceless - for everything else there's ...........

James D. Macdonald
05-09-2006, 08:30 PM
The debate originally occurred here: http://s15.invisionfree.com/Debate/index.php?showtopic=4&st=45


If anyone taking PA to arbitration wants to use any of my remarks in this debate, be my guest.

The side discussion took place in the NEPAT Overflow.

Let me invite your attention to this post by HapiSofi on 27FEB06:

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=512616#post512616



Shelagh may pride herself on her debating skills, but either she doesn't know the basic rules of the form, or she doesn't care about breaking them.

First: if your opponent raises logical, well-supported arguments that are pertinent to the resolutions being debated, and you neither engage with nor answer them, you have yielded those points in toto to the opposition. You don't get to ignore the arguments, then deny that you've conceded them, which appears to be Shelagh's favorite strategy.

Second: issues that haven't been raised in the initial phases of the debate cannot be dragged in when it's time to do your final summary. In a formal debate, where you have one or more judges deciding it, Shelagh's last salvo would have cost her the debate purely on procedural grounds.

To be blunt about it, that woman couldn't win a debate if she was up against a pair of high school freshman debaters and had her choice of topics. Lord only knows why she thinks she's good at it.

And with that, I am reclosing this thread.

Shelagh has been banned from this forum (but not, I add, for her defense of PA), and it is unfair to pound on her in a place where she cannot reply.