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Xlibris is a Bloomington Indianamarker-based self-publishing and on-demand printing services provider founded in 1997. In 2000, Random House bought 49% of the company. , Random House still owned a minority share of 49%. , The New York Times stated it to be the foremost on-demand publisher. The founder and chief executive is John Feldcamp.

Overview

Xlibris is a self publisher that publishes hardback and paperback books. , it also published e-books in several formats. The company was acquired by self publishing leader Author Solutions, Inc. -- parent company of self publishing imprints AuthorHouse and iUniverse on Jan. 8, 2009.

Authors do not relinquish their rights, and the company will keep books in print "forever". It is "nonselective" in accepting manuscripts, describes itself as a publishing services provider rather than a publisher, and considers a book's author its publisher. Beginning in 2000, the company expanded its operations globally, opening full-service offices in Europe and Japan.

, Xlibris was stated to have 20,000 titles in print, by more than 18,000 authors.


The name is a derivation of the Latin term ex libris which means "from the library of".

Commentaries

In a New York Times article, D.T. Max stated that the quality of Xlibris's books was better than its competitors in the self-publishing industry: "It wasn't until I got to Xlibris that I found something to read." Sampling two titles, one of which had won an award in 1996, Max concluded that Xlibris "confirms that books worth reading do not always find a way into print." However, Max criticized the organization of the site, where books were only indexed by an alphabetical listing by title with bare descriptions of the plot and theme. He ultimately phoned a company executive for a recommendation and to place an order.

Science fiction author Piers Anthony was an early supporter of print-on-demand, and invested in Xlibris, as well as publishing books through the company. Anthony differentiates Xlibris from "notorious vanity publishing" because it "enables any writer to publish for a nominal fee", rather than being "taken for huge amounts". The company says that it does not require authors to buy "box loads of books", and unlike vanity presses, will help the author sell books indefinitely.

Roland LaPlante, writing in Harper's Magazine, noted in 2001 that Xlibris's predicted future output of 100,000 titles a year would equal the number of all books published in the United States in 1999, and worried these "mostly dubious" works would "affect American publishing in every worst way and obliterate what remains of a genuine book culture." The company countered that "everyone has a story to tell" and its output preserved the "richness of humanity."

Status as a Vanity Press

A vanity press, by definition, is a publisher that requires the author to pay up-front to have his or her book published. While XLibris does charge fees up front for authors, they claim not to be a vanity press on the grounds of that ownership of the book remains with the author and that they do not force the author to buy copies of the book. On the other side of the debate, they do charge up-front fees without guarantee of sales with these fees possibly significantly higher than average.

References

  1. Rachel Donadio: You’re an Author? Me Too! The New York Times, April 27, 2008
  2. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123142714635864491.html
  3. vanity press - Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
  4. ScrivenersError.com: Literary Scams: Printing Costs
  5. Self Publishing Your Book
  6. Ask Ron


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