I would argue that "vanity publisher" is an inappropriate label for publish-on-demand services (specifically Lulu.com and CreateSpace)--and, despite Wikipedia, that publish-on-demand is a different phenomenon from print-on-demand. As a "traditionally published" author (12 books) who is also using publish-on-demand, I see the clear differences and uses.-walt crawford, 1/30/08
The writer of this discussion has confused Vanity Press with Self-Publishing.
In Self-Publishing (or Independent publishing)the author IS the publisher and contracts separately for the various services including editing, production, and distribution/sales (usually with several different vendors). The author orders the number of copies desired, promotes, distributes and orders new printings at per-copy cost as he or she finds worthwhile. Quality of these books is often high, with high popular demand and sales, especially as the writer gains experience. (Although it's true that quality does not necessarily measure up, depending on the ability and expertise of the author.)
In Vanity publishing, production and marketing decisions are made by the Vanity company, and the company retains control of all decisions. The author pays an up-front fee, and receives a small number of books, perhaps only 10 or 15. To order more books may be exorbitantly expensive, so that it is impossible for the author to sell them to stores or libraries. Worse, often the books are poorly edited and there is almost no promotion or distribution, as the Vanity company has already made its profit from the author's upfront payment. Francie M. Berg (www.healthyweight.net)