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Author Solutions Buys Xlibris Creating a Self-Publishing Triumvirate

In a story from the Wall Street Journal, Author Solutions, Inc. has bought Xlibris, furthering the consolidation of the print on demand industry.  Author Solutions now runs three of the most popular print on demand houses – AuthorHouse, iUniverse, and Xlibris.  Eyebrows were raised when AuthorHouse joined forces with iUniverse, and this acquisition will have people raising the specter of “monopoly” and the potential for the three POD outlets to corner the market on print on demand publishing.

Generally, the three companies offer the same types of services.  Unlike Lulu.com, which lets authors print up books one at a time, AuthorHouse, iUniverse, and Xlibris, all sell self-publishing packages – including book design, online marketing, and book fulfillment.

Kevin Weiss, CEO of Author Solutions described the merger as a “friendly transaction,” meaning it wasn’t a hostile takeover, but the same may not be said by other print on demand outlets, like Outskirts Press or Mill City Press, as the three giants of self-publishing will combine to potentially take the majority of subsidy-published books.  Estimates are that the three self-publishers combined to publish 20,000 books in 2008 – which is an enormous figure when compared to traditional independent publishers that may only put out 10 titles in a year.

Author Solutions Partners with Morgan James

In December, Author Solutions announced a partnership with Morgan James Publishing to offer entrepreneurial self-publishing packages, so Author Solutions is most certainly cornering many different self-publishing markets.  Whenever mergers occur, the word “monopoly” is often brought up.  It may be too early to call Author Solutions a monopoly, as there are many other self-publishing avenues, but they do control the major, mainstream players in subsidy publishing. If Author Solutions was to buy Lulu.com, there would likely be increased heat on the company as controlling too large a share of the self-publishing market.