Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The book publisher did it.

Who committed an act of libel? Was it the author of Paperback Poison: the Romance Writer and the Hit Man or its publisher, AuthorHouse? According to Claire Kirch's article in PW Daily, the book publisher did it.

Here's what's interesting to me. AuthorHouse doesn't call itself a publishing house. On its home page, AuthorHouse bills itself as a team of "author advocates" who can "help you choose the best book publishing options and the most effective marketing tools."

In other words, AuthorHouse allows authors to self publish, and they don't impose editorial standards on their clients' work.

AuthorHouse may have provided the mechanism that allowed a libelous book to be printed and marketed. But if I'd been on that Kansas jury, I would have noted that a company like AuthorHouse doesn't evaluate its clients' work, and probably doesn't even read it. That's the business model, and while it may leave book reviewers scratching their heads, it would seem to exonerate AuthorHouse from responsibility if anything goes wrong.

I'm surprised at the verdict. A jury said that the book publisher did it, but I wonder. What will this do to the future of print-on-demand publishing? If I were iUniverse, I'd be scared now. I'd be very scared.

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