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The brief history of the book self-publishing

Oddly enough, self-publishing (also called vanity publishing in the old days) is the genesis of today's publishing. Two and three hundred years ago, almost all books were produced using the author's, or his family's and friends', money. The bookseller took a cut and the author got the rest. This changed with the advent of modern publishing in the early part of 20th century, when royalty structure were established and the advance system was born. Bookselling and publishing became industrialized and profitable. Agents soon followed.
In the old vanity publishing world, the business model was in big favor of publishers - they charged an author for ALL (any thing you can think of) the costs of publishing a book and then sold that same book back to the author for additional charge. Since vanity book publisher didn't do sells for the book, many authors forced into buying thousands of copies of their own books which they were never able to sell.
The modern self-publishing houses, such as Xlibris and iUniverse, typically offer authors two things:
(1) Print-on-demand (POD). POD cut down on the printing costs because books are printed only when an order is placed;
(2) help with the books' edit, design and layout, book marketing and sells. (with a cost, of course)
According to the Publisher's Marking Association (PMA), during 2003-2004, self-publisher and other small publisher accounted for 78% of all the book titles published in the US.

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