PUBLISHING SERVICE INDEX – August 2012

This is the PUBLISHING SERVICE INDEX for August 2012. This edition reflects several new review updates as well as new arrivals Book Country and Pumbo.

The top ten sees no change with the top three places, despite LSI’s improved colour book program, but BookLocker and Pen Press return. Lulu continues the trend this year of slipping down the ranking index, but should remain in the top ten at least for 2012 with a sizable points gap back to SilverWood Books in tenth. One thing is clear this year. DIY services like Lulu and Blurb are not featuring as strongly this year and CreateSpace has lost the considerable ground it once had on LSI. Nevertheless, the top ten remains dominated by the two US companies with strong global bases across the UK and Europe.

It is a much more mixed story outside the top ten. Aventine remains one of the most consistent companies, rarely too far away from the top ten, despite what I’ve always felt were reliable, but limited services. In fact, Aventine is one of the companies with the lowest ‘negative feedback’ over three years I’ve been correlating this index. The recent review update of Mill City Press, which came about after a half dozen very strong author reviews directly to me, has seen them rise to 13th, the biggest upward move in the past two months. Peter Honsberger’s Cold River Studio continues to strengthen its position following a recent service overhaul and ASI’s stallwarts, iUniverse and AuthorHouse (post Pearson acquisition), round out the top twenty along with Christian self-publishing service, Xulon Press. Though the latter is a solid and popular self-publishing service in the USA, it has slowly slipped over the past year from a regular top ten position. Apex Publishing, with a strong UK presence, continues to slowly rise up the rankings. It doesn’t seem that long ago Apex was outside the top forty.        

Things settle down quite a bit outside the top twenty

Things are very static from 21 to 50 with the exception of two new entries in the PUBLISHING INDEX. Dutch DIY self-publishing service enter for the first time in 43rd, which is remarkably low for a DIY service, but it should be borne in mind that – as yet – Pumbo is directly entirely at the Dutch and Belgian markets and their limited distribution through Central Book represents this. I’m still amazed Pumbo has yet to explore listing internationally on sites like Amazon.de and .co.uk. Penguin’s Book Country makes its entrance a little higher at 31, but I still think this is very early days to draw any conclusions and we have yet to see what impact and change Pearson’s acquisition of ASI will have on Book Country.

I will leave you with the final placings in the latest PUBLISHING INDEX, rounding out the full rankings from 51 through to 74. Next index will not be until October/November. Two or three months can be a long time in the publishing world!

(KEY)

DIY – Do-it-yourself bespoke sevices
ASS – Author Solutions Services (Packages)
PUB – Also offers Mainstream Contracts
PRT – Printer
FULL – Fulfillment Services provided

The most asked question we get at The Independent Publishing Magazine is often along the lines of; ‘What self-publishing service should I go with?‘; ‘Is so and so a good service to go with?‘; or ‘Is so and so a scam?

In some cases, that is an easy question to answer, cut and dry, but in other circumstances, the answer is entirely arbitrary. We are not here to review and run down a company’s name, nor are we here to endorse a company’s services. If we were only to review author solutions services according to every point in our ideal list of what an author should get from a company offering publishing services; we would have very few reviews to share with you. In truth, no company has ever attained a 10/10, and only a few have recorded more than 08/10. In the autumn of 2010 we will be posting all our reviews with a rating, and any new reviews since February 2010 have automatically had a posted rating at the bottom of the review.
The reality is that some author solutions services begin in a blaze of glory and we might rate them favourably  at the time; others, frankly, are just poor, and yet, they improve (sometimes in response to our reviews) to offer reasonable services for authors. We are constantly updating our reviews, but this takes considerable time, and so do the initial reviews.
We get a vast amount of information from authors and the companies selling author solutions services every day – good and bad. We get a great deal of information from monitoring services week by week against the experiences of what authors report back to us. Simply put, and truthfully, we cannot reflect all of this information through the reviews. That is why the comments section under each company we review is so important. It is your recording and dealings with that specific company, and a positive or negative flag to subsequent authors considering using the same company.
So, how do we reflect the changing ups and downs with services?
We believe the PUBLISHING SERVICE INDEX will help to guide authors to services on the up, and those, gradually on the down. If you like, what we are proposing is effectively, a kind of stock exchange for author solutions services.
The PUBLISHING SERVICE INDEX was first launched in June 2010.         
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