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Saturday, August 21, 2010

A term whose time has passed

Within the book business, "subsidy publishing" is frequently used as a nicer alternative to "vanity publishing"--by publishers, authors and trade journalists. The term also shows up in mass media like the New York Times.

The term "vanity publisher" is fading away, being replaced by "self-publishing company," "pay-to-publish company," "fee-based publisher" and a dozen or more alternatives.

The industry is long overdue to replace "subsidy publishing" and "subsidy publisher" because the terms are almost always misused.

In other fields (e.g., subsidized housing, subsidized daycare, subsidized farming, subsidized education, subsidized transportation) the “customer” pays part of the cost of the service. Another entity such as a government agency or employer provides a subsidy to pay for the rest.

In most “subsidy” publishing, the author-customer pays 100% of the cost of publishing. There is NO subsidy.

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