It has never been easier to self-publish a book:
- Amazon has CreateSpace which offers a print-on-demand service and an ISBN if you want one. Self-publishing on the Amazon Kindle store could not be easier.
- Apple allows anyone to self-publish ebooks through its iTunes Connect service. Unfortunately, you need a Mac to run their software, and you must have an ISBN number. Thankfully, you can buy ISBN numbers online through vendors like Bowker.
- Barnes and Nobel make it very easy to publish ebooks through their pubit! online service.
- Borders offer a service of its own called Get Published.
- Lulu offers print-on-demand and makes available both your paper and electronic books through Amazon.
Typically, self-publishing is associated with vanity publishing. Wikipedia defines vanity publishing as publishing at the author’s expense. So, is self-publishing really vanity publishing? Consider the Amazon kindle top-10 best-sellers. Three of these books are self-published books from Amanda Hocking. She can sell 10,000 books a week.
I believe that we are seeing a reversal: people who want prestige, but not necessarily readership or sales, want a bona fide publisher. Meanwhile, individuals who want to make money increasingly self-publish. In this respect, self-publishing is attractive: in many cases, you get to keep close to 70% of the sales as royalties.
What about academia? Some people believe that researchers get paid to publish articles. The opposite is true. Often, journals charge the authors. Thus, by definition, scientific publishing is vanity publishing. Some professors make money by publishing books, typically by publishing a popular textbook, but most do not.