Penguin is purchasing notorious vanity press Author Solutions, the umbrella company that runs AuthorHouse, DellArte, iUniverse, Trafford Publishing, West Bow, and Xlibris. (Want some fun? Google each of those names, followed by the word "scam.") This is apparently to go with Penguin's Book Country. Apparently their new strategy is, If you can't beat self-published writers, rip 'em off!
(And honestly, I'm a little astounded that Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware is all, "Oh, this is fine, as long as Penguin does something about the fact that, with Author Services, you get nothing in return for your money, you don't get paid, they lie all the time, and they're trying to rip you off with overpriced, poor-quality services." But then again, it's not the first time Author Solutions seems to have confounded her. I think that to her, self-publishing is all kind of scammy, so why attempt to separate the wheat from the chaff?)
This I agree with:
It "constitutes tacit recognition that the legacy publishing model is severely challenged and may not work sometime in the foreseeable future," said Mike Shatzkin, chief executive of Idea Logical Co., a New York-based publishing consultancy.
I bet Penguin has thought carefully about this new strategy. Let's see what the CEO said!
“It’s early days. We haven’t thought in detail about Book Country,” said Penguin CEO John Makinson on a press conference call.
Oh, yeah. This is going to go great.
To perhaps belabour my point, the stories about the deal keep trotting out successful self-published titles like Eragon, Fifty Shades of Grey, and On the Island--all books that WERE NOT PRODUCED BY AUTHOR SOLUTIONS.
Seriously, folks, not all self-publishing is the same.
P.S. David Gaughran has a great post (with art that you will either find hilarious or deeply offensive) that handily sums up all the problems with Author Solutions. (I'll throw in another one from a strict business perspective: While they have big revenues, they simply aren't very profitable ($4m on $100m in revenues). Granted, they're relatively new, but a 4% profit margin is nothing to crow about.)