Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Publishing through Vanities is Not Self-Publishing, Says Kansas Court

It's official now. A vanity publisher that stamps its name on someone's book is the publisher of record. Authors who use the services of vanities and "POD publishers" (note: POD is a technology that many publishers use, not just the vanities) are not legally self-publishing, in spite of advertising claims.

Publishers themselves have known this for a long time. He who buys the ISBN number directly from , and whose imprint the book is published under, is indeed the publisher. When authors self-publish, they buy their own ISBN number, file for copyright on their own behalf, and publish under their own imprint, using a book printer (not a company calling itself a publisher) to bring the book into being.

Writers, however, aren't always cognizant of these finer legal points. And no wonder -- look at the colorful, exclamation-point-laden advertisements of the vanity presses. The majority of them refer to the process as "self-publishing." Or they'll confound a printing process with the act of publishing and call themselves "POD publishers," trying to avoid the stink of the "vanity" label, but they will still market themselves as a service to help authors self-publish.

A court in Kansas, however, ruled otherwise. In a libel case against , the jury ruled that AuthorHouse was, indeed, the publisher of a book that libeled the author's ex-wife, and held the company responsible for damages. AuthorHouse, and not the author himself, was determined by the jury to be the publisher of the book. So much for claims of "self-publishing."

More on the story is available from Publisher's Weekly:

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