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Why Do Publishers Want to Become Vanity Presses?

In catching up on some reading that had piled up, we ran across this piece in the January edition of LOCUS. It appeared in their news round-up section on page 54 of the January 2010 issue:

Leading romance publisher Harlequin Books ignited controversy with authors’ groups after announcing an arrangement with vanity publisher Author Services to launch a new imprint called Harlequin Horizons, which would offer to publish writers rejected by Harlequin’s legitimate imprints… for a price.

The article goes on to explain that Harlequin is not the first publisher to add a vanity-press arm to “bolster profits.”

There was push-back on the part of author and writer associations, and in the end Harlequin backed down a bit. It  changed the name of the new imprint to something with less name recognition, DellArte Press. But this whole business just made us wonder: What is going on with publishing these days?

Is this a genre issue?

Isn’t this very likely to distort a publisher’s likely future decisions about what to publish outright and what to ask an author to pay them to publish?

What an odd development.

The article was short and we’ll have to ponder this, read a bit more about how wide-spread this expansion into vanity publishing is for traditional publishers. In an industry undergoing enormous change, this may seem a small item. For us it stood out enough to be worth noting.

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