Thursday, May 18, 2006

iUniverse: Facelift and liposuction success.

In case you haven't checked out the iUniverse site lately (granted, I don't imagine most of you surf POD sites in your spare time), you should see it now. They just re-launched the website and it's all flashy and sexy and exactly 180 degrees from this other POD site. If you can judge the quality of a POD publisher by their website (you know, like judging a book by its cover?) then iU wins hands down.

Talk about new and improved. Even CEO Susan Driscoll has a blog now!

They have, however, increased the price of their packages lately. (Hey, someone's gotta pay for that new site, eh?) What may make the additional price worthwhile is iU's Star program, where they competitively price and market successful titles, along with accepting returns; it's a model that other PODs have yet to mimic. It's no more a guarantee than going the traditional publishing route, but at least it's something.

It seems to me that the marketshare of the POD world is being gobbled up primarily by two companies: iUniverse and Lulu--and both have different offerings and a different approach: iUniverse is costly but full-service; Lulu is cheap and DIY. In the past few months I've only had seven submissions from Authorhouse authors and zero from Xlibris. In the same time period, I've had 317 submissions from Lulu authors and about the same from iU authors.

What does all this mean? Who cares. Remember this simple tenet: If your book is good, go find an agent and a traditional publisher; if your book is good but finds itself niche-less, give POD a shot. Otherwise, use that delete button, baby.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Yet another first: Authorhouse loses libel case.

Attention PublishAmerica goofballs: Authorhouse was just ordered, by a jury, to pay $230,000 in damages to a popular romance author whose husband (and new wife) wrote a book full of libelous garbage.

Authorhouse was ordered to pay the hefty sum (roughly equal to a year's worth of royalty checks for their stable of authors (that's a joke (sort of))) despite the fact that their contract said they would not be liable:

The Kansas jury ruled for Brandewyne even though AuthorHouse’s contracts state that the publisher assumes no legal responsibility or liability “for any loss, damage, injury, or claim to any kind or character to any person or property” in publishing the works of its clients. Jay Fowler, an attorney for Brandewyne, maintained that the “contract does not absolve AuthorHouse of their responsibility. AuthorHouse published the book, put it on the Internet, did everything a publisher does. They’re responsible for publishing this book without vetting it first.”

Sweet fancy moses!

Sounds like the tell-all (tell-nothing) book was really flying up the bestseller lists:

Fowler said that AuthorHouse claims 74 copies of Paperback Poison in total were printed, 21 were given to the author, three were sold, and the company destroyed the 50 copies they had remaining in stock after receiving complaints about the book from Brandewyne and others.

Not exactly the Opal recall.

If in fact, Authorhouse loses on appeal (I'm not a lawyer; I'm just assuming), imagine what that would do to the world of POD?

S-l-o-w i-t d-o-w-n.

And you thought regular publishing was slow! Guess what will happen if (for lack of a better term) non-publishing professionals have to vet these books? PublishAmerica may actually have to get in to the dry cleaning business (not a bad idea; they're good at sucking things dry.)

Now here's a first . . .

Big news in the POD world (everything is relative): POD publisher Xulon Press gets purchased by Salem Communications. This could be good news for (a select few) Xulon authors. What Salem Communications (which owns 100+ radio stations) plans to do with the press is sort of unclear, but it probably can't be a bad thing.

Perhaps this is the beginning of a financial--if not business--interest in POD companies. (The last one was Barnes and Noble snagging iUniverse--not sure how happy they've been.)