Vanity press

A pay- Verlag ( in Austria and Switzerland: self-paying publisher) is a company (or part of a company ) that offers extensive services for the self-published books, e-books and other publication media after the closing of a contract. Such a company is thus no publisher in the strict sense, since it (eg in Germany according to § 1 Publisher Act) includes a service for self-published media with his clients not per se publishing contracts.

Since the 1980s occurred in Germany pay publishers, inter alia, as a subsidy publishing company called on, for which their critics the term pseudo- Verlag has established. An Adverse this business model as a payment Verlag offer since around 2010 international emerging companies, inter alia, with the self-designation of self-publishing platform.

  • 4.1 Pressure subsidy publishers 4.1.1 Criticism of publication subsidy publishers Pseudo publishers
  • backlash
  • 4.2.1 Free Provider print editions ( Book on Demand )
  • E -Books

The concept

Companies that offer services for the self-published or for self-published media are referred to among others, the financial newspaper as " pay- Verlag". This term corresponds to names for other languages ​​such as French Édition à compte d' auteur and the Italian Editoria a pagamento. As a self-designation, however, the term " pay- publishing " is not common in German-speaking businesses.

Since the 1980s, set in Germany pay publishers to self- terms such as " publication subsidy publishing ", " private publishing house" or "Service Publisher ", with its emphasis on a misleading term connection with " publishing ". Critics of this business model as the Coalition for Fair Publishing but also the online publisher dictionary of the author house publishing they were once again a conceptual partly with the grant publishers the same - see also the first section under history - or referred to them as " pseudo- publishers ". For as well as the Munich District Court I ruled that " characterizes and describes (this term ) the difference in the performance of the service publishing from those of the usual trade publishers who submit especially the financial expenses for the publication of a manuscript as a book. " It is also stated in the judgment "The service publishers, just as that of the applicant, just are not publishing, as traditional publishers as they are also well known to the public in understanding the interested public. "

Since about 2010, pay publishers and Others occur with the self-designation of self-publishing platform. They point significantly to the self- publishing their customer or client and avoid in its corporate name the misleading word " publisher ".


The beginnings of the publishers are paid in time can not be exactly determined, but are not lagging behind their far with the ineinszusetzen and also by definition be accrued beginning of the subsidy publishers. Forerunner of the publishers should pay particular small publishers such as the German - Austrian JG Blaeschke have been publishing house, which had initially laid as a "traditional" book publishing works of crowd-pulling as possible authors at their own expense. From the 1970s this publisher had, however, his business expanded to include the acceptance of works of unknown authors for laying their works just like a regular subsidy publisher until only one printing costs, but later all the production costs and even beyond fees for services such as consulting and editing had to do etc.. In this case, the impression was always trying to awaken these publications correspond to those of a regular publishing house.

On February 28, 1983 entered with the slogan " Publishing is looking for authors ," one of the first pay - or " printing costs Publishers" in Germany the Frieling -Verlag on.

The introduction of as opposed to the usual book production much cheaper calculative Book-on -demand method, the 1990s made ​​the market for pay publishers end of another upturn, which in the German language since about 2005 by the more and more spreading eBook reader and the film took so even cheaper than the Book-on -demand print media to producing e-books renewed impetus.

In April 2008, the Coalition for Fair Publishing (abbreviated Fairlag ) was established, which the Association of German Writers ( VS) in Verdi, the Federal Association of young authors ( BVjA ), the IG authors authors ( Igaa ) from Austria and the Association authors of Switzerland ( AdS ) belong. The core of the Action Alliance is the Fairlag Declaration " And all paid for itself! Dangers of a publication in the so-called printing costs publishers / self-pay publishers and pseudo- publishers ", which was signed by a large number of other literary devices, including all three German PEN centers from the German speaking countries. Even before the publication of the declaration were signatories to the Fairlag return by the operators of pseudo - publishers and grant injunctive action requests and threats. Mark Hansel Hohenhausen, who describes himself as " Altverleger " and was, until 2003 Chairman of the Board of the Frankfurt Publishing Group, published a so-called " elfseitige memorandum " in which he " discrimination against new authors," accused the Coalition of and whose claims of " exclusion and censorship" in the " intellectual current of the author track of the time of National Socialism and Communism " presented. The Higher Regional Court of Munich had, however, an appeal by the Frankfurt publishing group back and thus upheld the judgment of the District Court of Munich I, to call on 5 February 2009, after which it was allowed, inter alia, companies like the applicant as a " pseudo- Verlag". "

Along with the recent publication process but also under the impression of the court judgment of 5 February 2009, a splitting has taken place in the external representation of the pay publishers and the acquisition of their customers. Newer companies with self- descriptions such as, inter alia, self-publishing platform point as opposed to the " pseudo- publishers " clearly indicates that their customers or clients are self- publishers, and have to bear all costs and fees, while they see themselves as "Service Provider" identify and thus deliberately avoid the misleading word " publisher ".

On January 23, 2013, the publishing group Monsenstein and Vannerdat, among other issues, also the pay publisher or the platform, called the certificate fair public into being in order with the new seal " dubious pseudo- publishers " and the so-called " Vanity Press " to put a stop to.



  • Anyone can give a book to commission pay publishers - as a pure service is paid for publishing the quality of the products manufactured and sold by them texts per se irrelevant and therefore not a criterion to reject an order.
  • Technically accept pay publishers "one-stop " or part of the same tasks as a regular publisher ( → see for example: book publisher ), except that they just do not invest in an author ( submit embarrassed =), but the author any performance - inter alia advice including corrections and proofreading, artwork for printing to the manufacture, marketing and advertising the sale finished book - with more or less large margin set for itself in accounting.
  • In the self-publishing platforms under the pay publishers costly extra services is a flat rate of remuneration is paid, sometimes even free base or basic offer is based, the most an ISBN allocation, device ( Mastering) and reserving the data set of a digital printing template for the Book on Demand process or / and as an e- book as well as its display and sales through online stores.
  • As for the forms of publication, pay publishers offer a book printing in the book-on- demand process and / or in offset printing with certain edition sizes and / or as an e -book.
  • Thanks to the Book on Demand process, a book can also be relatively inexpensive printed by a publisher pay a single time or kept available permanently.
  • Furthermore, there are different and variable in itself offers for the equipment of a book and a paperback and / or hardcover as well as in black and white and / or as color printing.
  • The Books on Demand GmbH as the European leader takes over, inter alia, for regular publishing the print production of books in the book-on - demand process. ( The extent to which this company also makes or even exclusively for the other publishers pay within the German-speaking countries, is currently - to verify is not unique - except for the pay publishers within the Allitera Verlag. )

Costs and cost estimates

→ Please also refer to: calculation for self- publishers in the article published by the author

The price- performance ratio of the pay publishers diverges significantly as well as the way of collecting their fee demands for advanced services is very diverse. The cost estimates of the pay publishers and their respective significance are not subject to uniform standards, which is generally difficult to compare between providers:

  • Providers such as the Books on Demand GmbH rely on transparency and provide for their basic offers (as of 2014: from 0 or 19 euros ) to create a book title price tables and / or Preiskalkulatoren with reference to certain offers, paper, envelope, format, number of pages and Provision of data for the print templates.
  • Providers like the Frieling Verlag Berlin keep this very overcast, call on their website any specific figures, but grant only to request the " free delivery " of a brochure and put only the manuscript 's view, a " custom quote " before. In this supplier are at least several thousand euro, if not to be estimated tens of thousands of euros for the creation of a book title.

Clients / target groups

→ See also the section: Reason correlations among self-published.

Clients that pay publishers differ first by whether they merely have to factor in the costs of basic or basic offer thanks to their previous experience on the PC to create a print-ready manuscript and cover art, especially in the self-publishing platforms - or already here to the with far more costs associated assistance of providers are dependent. The latter are often not (yet ) Customers of the so-called " pseudo- publishers ".

In addition, to distinguish among the target groups between desired services for self-published authors or for a single institutionally self- publishing, if institutions (among libraries, universities ) have recourse to pay publishers for their publications. The target group for the self- publishing individual authors can be roughly split as follows:

  • Autobiographer who want to remember the family and her friends with her ​​life story in book form alone.
  • Doctoral students of some faculties of political science use, according to the Tagesspiegel, February 18, 2014 now in particular digital service or self-publishing platforms for self publishing their dissertations, as incurred in the case described, a 400 -sided thesis only for the printing costs 4000 euros for a specialist publisher and then the cost of a proofreading would have been paid.
  • Also recognized authors always use pay publishers more often, including when their published at regular publishers publications are out of print.
  • The English name Vanity press for pay publishers derives from their biggest target group - the "vanity publishers " - from whose vanity (vanity ) is usually assessed much higher than their literary talent and do not meet the requirements of a regular publishing house.


→ See also the section: Reception of products self-published under self-published.

The appreciation of literary publications on a pay- Verlag subject front hand to the same criteria as publications by publishers, ie whose success is measured by units sold and on the perception of the literary criticism. Thus, the self-publishing platform Books on Demand refers to several published titles with him, who grew it seemed bestseller lists. There are also examples of self -laid bestsellers that were first self- published and then taken over by regular publishers because of its resounding success.

But basically orders the book trade by itself as well as any books from the programs of the pay publishers and their titles are " not perceived in the literary public sphere " of literary criticism or without its own commitment of the author. Authors who can only show self-financed book publications in pay publishers are not included by the Association of German writers. The same applies to the application for inclusion in the database of authors of the Friedrich- Bödecker circle.

Forms of business organization and business models

Ultimately, every company can also occur as a payment publishing, inter alia, in conjunction with a printing company and offer appropriate services. While pay publishers until the 1990s mainly on the basis of the offset printing process and the production of different levels of run lengths made ​​their tenders to be since the beginning of the 21st century more and more set to the digital printing in the form of Book-on -demand and e -book process, including " online store " sales.

Broadly speaking, today subdivide pay publishers in three types of companies:

  • Initially, inter alia, under the collective term " publication subsidy publishing " has become well-known companies that offer their services under the misleading appearance of a painting as a " publisher "
  • "Self - publishing platforms " or digital business specializing in the manufacture and sales through online stores
  • Mixed companies, which also occur at the same time, inter alia, with a self-publishing platform as a publisher ( or within a publishing group )

Printing costs publishers

The first party with the business model of a payment, the publishing so-called " printing costs publishers " - by the critics often equated with " subsidy publishing " - has succeeded in the mid- 1980s, not least numerous amateur writers or "vanity publisher" for publication a first own book to encourage.

Pioneers in Germany for this is the Founded in 1983, company Frieling -Verlag Berlin, which his performance today (as of 2014) as summarized follows: "Through our diverse range and our many years of experience in the publication of books we offer each author to his to realize a dream and approaching with a manuscript to us. For every author needs a publisher who supports him. You need support for your book project, and we are looking for writers who want to publish. "

While regular publishers turned to consummate far less than one percent responded positively manuscripts usually " looking " so here is one " publisher " even for new authors. However, the provider queries then also " What is the risk of a new release? Is a financial interest in the publication of the first edition necessary? ", And responds with " To preserve the freedom to promote new, unknown authors, uses the Frieling - publishing the first edition of a book the principle of risk-sharing. New authors can mitbewirken the fulfillment of their dream active in this way, with the professional help of a private publisher. "

What is here called " risk-sharing " in the performance of a " private publishing house ," was formerly known as " printing costs " or apostrophized only as a " subsidy " which according to the company " Experience has shown that " for the majority of the submitter of a manuscript as is necessary proves.

Criticism of printing costs publishers

Pseudo publishers

In the International Action Alliance for Fair Publishing (Ak Fairlag ) clarified over 60 authors' associations and literary institutions from Germany, Austria and Switzerland together about the business practices of " pseudo- publishers " and made ​​with the Fairlag Declaration And all paid for itself! Dangers of a publication in the so-called printing costs publishers / self-pay publishers and pseudo publishers on their view, is not to be tolerated unilateral passing of entrepreneurial risk Verlag attention to the authors.

It turned to regard the information required by such company " risk sharing " or " subsidies" in 2008 to the comparison with well-known commercial publishers: " Renowned trade publishers are already celebrating five percent return on sales, subsidy publishers can expect returns of between 25 to 30 percent. Some come on annual operating results of half a million euros before tax " And further states that: ". Particularly contradictory in view of these gains may hear the statements of some of these publishers, who claim with respect to authors that for each manuscript for alleged Publisher financing no financial more for they were ready. The author must therefore pay themselves a " subsidy ". In fact, not only every one " subsidy " but everything is charged completely. "

The Alliance, however, in his term subsidence not always consistent, that is, uses it, for example on its pages frequently " printing subsidy publisher " and " subsidy publishing " as a synonym. On his side, " definition " it is different then in turn between " printing subsidy publisher / self-pay publishing " and " pseudo- Verlag". Thus, a " publication subsidy publisher " would be equivalent to approximately according to the old definition with a subsidy publisher: " According to the definition involved such a publishing author or a third party at the expense of the first edition and so reduces its business risk - due in part to significant way. The author carries a part of the costs. This means that the publisher and share the entrepreneurial risk " At the same place it says turn in" pseudo- Verlag. ":" A pseudo- Verlag charged to the author contrast, even all costs, plus a profit margin. "

See section History sanctioned the term pseudo- Verlag in a court ruling and has since established itself for such companies in bookstores and authors of the German-speaking countries (A, D, CH).

This particularly refers to those providers under the pay publishers who mistakenly equate their offerings with those of a regular grant or specialist publishers. Or because they rely on self- descriptions such as private publishing company, publishing services and publishing service in order to suggest their customers, they would like a regular (Public ) Publisher after the interests of each individual client or author. This is sometimes also underlined by actually give out in a side rail a fraction of their publications under the sign of a publishing house as a self- responsible editions. ( As some critics of such entrepreneurs pseudo publishers or " printing costs publishers " with " subsidy publishing " equate the confusion is perfect and it is so far unclear whether any or how now demand a lot of subsidy publishers far more than the mere printing costs and thus also entirely without its own of publishing and business risk to provide their services. See also the note to graduate students in section customers / audiences. )

As an advertising argument they sometimes lead to famous authors from the 18th and 19th centuries, which have assumed the cost of printing their works wholly or partially self. However, the book publishing industry at that time still under development, is disregarded and that it was at that time did not act to provide users a payment publishing, but the use of printers who have demanded of their clients a printing costs alone to compensate for the cost of printing.


The publishing group Monsenstein and Vannerdat to which, inter alia, independent publishers as well as with the platform also pay a publisher in the form of a publication service count has launched the certificate public fair in life, according to a press release of 23 January 2013. She wants to put the new seal of the " dubious pseudo- publishers " and the so-called " Vanity Press " the craft. After that participation for companies to commit to standards in terms of copyright, the Enlightenment around their offerings as well as the sustainability and fairness. A test committee of industry experts would have to forgive the seal and possibly also to escape again.

Self- publishing platforms ( Book on Demand, E -Book)

Digital services - actually a service provider for digital media production - on the business of pay publishers offer online platforms for self -publishing self- publishing called on. You position yourself focused as a manufacturer of book publications in the digital print-on -demand and e-book procedures, but sometimes still parallel to the offset printing process. Self- publishing platforms often make basic resources (eg, for mastering and contract terms ) at fixed prices, the free provider among them set, inter alia, on the margin, resulting in printed editions of books from the fixed price per printed copy, especially when their clients purchase multiple copies of it themselves. While with them often is to provide an ISBN and the online store sales included, they usually demand only for other services such as consulting, editing and more extensive marketing extra fees. Some of these newer companies also make as opposed to the "pseudo publishers ' offensive eg as a service for self-publishing and self-publishing platform identified and put in their business model even at the cost estimates for their offers on transparency and on a comparatively fair price-performance ratio for their basic offers for creating a book title. Since their pricing but not always based on the same variables, the comparability among themselves is difficult.

  • As the European market leader in digital publishing for authors and publishers currently applies to the Books on Demand GmbH. Presumably, in competition with the free providers under the pay publishers occurring as a self-publishing platforms BoD has between 2012 and 2014 its prices for trading under BoD Classic Basic service (including mastering and ISBN assignment) of good 158 euros plus follow-up costs to now unique to reduced paid 19 euros without further follow-up costs for obtaining a data set.
  • Also, such a package - but on the other calculation basis - requires the online platform based in Hamburg.

Free provider

Among the self-publishing platforms, there are now also some that print-on -demand and / or create e-book editions for free:

Editions ( Book on Demand )
  • Amazon has an English-language " Independent Publishing Platform" established since 2009 under, the world's "self- publisher" ie self- publishers can now create their publications in paperback or / and e-book - albeit exclusively with Amazon as a distribution partner. This also applies to e-books, which are produced in direct connection to the Kindle Direct Publishing only for the Kindle reader. At Amazon or Create Space in Europe are the author discounts over considerable postage costs of mailing from the U.S.. It is for clients within Europe at present therefore sometimes cheaper to purchase smaller quantities of their own title as a regular customer of the respective domestic Amazon provider. Besides the free " basic package " can also be found at Amazon extended offers (eg for marketing ) which are chargeable and not rarely priced at several hundred dollars.
  • Without ISBN assignment, it is possible to create books about BoD Fun free even at Books on Demand.
  •, based in Raleigh (North Carolina ) United States, payment of honoraria to authors but only by check or PayPal.
E -Books
  • Within Germany the online platform was introduced in 2010 as a digital imprint of the publishing group Earthscan. has so far focused exclusively on the production of free e-books and uses the developed there formed community as a filter for substances that are checked after appropriate evaluation by editing the Earthscan publishing and possibly then also publishes regularly. According to information provided by leader in " ebook Self Publishing."
  •, based in Munich
  • Kindle Direct Publishing, see the notes above to Free print editions ( Book on Demand ) at Amazon or
  •, a service provided by DG Publishing Ltd.. & Co. KG, based in Berlin

Mixed company

Examples of mixed companies ( Publisher provider for the self- publishing of books-on -demand and e-book publications ) are:

  • Publishing group Georg von Holtzbrinck with the self-publishing platform.
  • Publishing Group Monsenstein and Vannerdat inter alia with the self-publishing platform
  • Allitera Verlag with the pay publishers BOOK & media, Allitera Crime and The Treasure Chest

Terms of Use

Between publishers and their clients pay no publishing contract (eg in Germany according to § 1 Publisher law ) is closed. Even if a pay- Verlag is mentioned in the imprint, for example, as a manufacturer, remain the full copyrights for the client. However, the authorities shall give the pay publishers for most of them also desired distribution services necessarily a restricted distribution law.