Goodbye vanity: Self-publishing goes mainstream
The Globe and Mail
Dec. 5, 2012
Five years ago, Kevin Weiss was leading a dodgy start-up in vanity publishing, one of the least respectable niches in what the world had already condemned as a dying industry, pumping out books that nobody else wanted to publish and charging their unloved authors good money to do so.
Today, Weiss is the latest member of the board of governors of publishing giant Penguin Group, which acquired the start-up, Indiana-based Author Solutions, for $116-million last summer. This week, Author Solutions signed a deal with Simon & Schuster to manage that venerable company’s first-ever foray into the mirror world of vanity publishing, where profits come not from sales of books but from sales of services to aspiring authors. Currently three of the six largest publishers in the world are travelling to Indiana on a regular basis, chequebooks in hand, to secure a place in what is now a booming business.
“Vanity is no longer vanity,” Weiss said in a recent interview. “Last year over 250,000 self-published titles came to market. It’s the fastest growing segment of the industry. There’s a lot of profit, a lot of revenue growth, a lot of book sales taking place in that space.”
And as more traditional publishers crowd into it, there is less distinction between vanity publishing and the normal variety, both of which are profitably taking on characteristics of one another.
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