blogging, the net, and vanity publishing

Back in January, before this class started, here and here, I blogged about SmartBooks, Lulu, and blogging as self-publishing. Now, writes if:book, self-publishing has moved into Borders:

Borders, in partnership with, has launched a comprehensive personal publishing platform, enabling anyone to design and publish their own (print) book and have it distributed throughout the Borders physical and online retail chain.

Self-publishing, vanity press, or lowering the publishing bar? If:book writes

It’s curious how “vanity publishing” as a cultural category seems to have a very clear relationship with the print book but a far more ambiguous one with the digital.


[G]enerally speaking, it is something we’ve looked down on. Blogs, MySpace, personal web pages and the like arise out of a different set of socio-economic conditions. The barriers to publication are incredibly low (digital divide notwithstanding), and so authorship online is perceived differently than in print, even if it still arises out of the same basic need to communicate. It feels more like simply taking part in a conversation, participating in a commons. One is not immediately suspicious of the author’s credibility in quite the same way as when the self-financed publication is in print.

The print market that makes a vanity of self-publishing is changing, which could open up new niches for freelancers, artists, academics and pros. If:book concludes with

All the world’s a vanity press and we have to learn to make sense of what it produces.

Where are you, as digital pros in training, as students, as professionals on the rise, with digital publishing?



Filed under Freelancing, Publishing

4 responses to “blogging, the net, and vanity publishing

  1. foradory

    Honestly I really like this new idea. Yes I do think that it takes away from the traditional ways but isn’t that where everything is going? Heather

  2. Zach Olson

    I’d have to say that credibility will be an issue at least, at first. If self-publishing becomes the next big thing, we’ll find a way to differentiate between valuable publications and crap just like we do now on the web. To me, however, it seems to make more sense to use a major publisher. They have greater knowledge and experience than the individual in publishing and marketing books, so in theory they should be able to do it with greater efficiency and effectiveness. Self-publishing, at least for a few years, will probably still be for those who can’t get a major publisher to pick up their works.

  3. justingagola

    I agree with Zach, publishing at least for now should be left for major publishing companies. Do I think that medium will change? Absolutely. When? I am not sure. I think that publishers know what they want and know what the public wants, if everyone was able to self-publish everything they wrote, the search for great writing would become a major hassle. That is why we have publishing companines in the first place, to weed out those things that the public really has no interest in.

  4. Interesting perspective from Zach and Justin. Publishers are something like filters, searching out the good stuff and passing it on to those who don’t have the time or energy or knowledge to do it themselves. Removing the corporate publisher from the mix would make it hard to find the good stuff, given the barrage of STUFF that we’d have to contend with.

    What if we set aside corporate publishers for an entity (an army of readers?) that would look over self-published work (print and online) and dig out the good and the great work in specific areas and gave us links to them? A who’s who sort of thing. How might that work?

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