Internet Self-Publishing as a Mirror for our Species

I gave a short talk on non-academic publishing to grad students in the Computer Science department a week ago, and one of them asked me about self-publishing. In the past, companies that did this were called “vanity presses”, because in most cases what they printed was material that no other publishing company thought people would buy. Has the web changed that? Well, here’s the current top 20 from Lulu, which is probably the best-known Internet vanity press. About the only thing I can conclude from it is that we are a very odd species…

  1. What Janet & John Did Next (based on a BBC radio program)
  2. How to Become an Alpha Male ("The lazy man's way to easy success with 20 or more women a month")
  3. Pay-Per-Click Search Engine Marketing Handbook
  4. The Havanese (it's a type of dog)
  5. The Didymus Contingency (scientist invents time travel, goes back to watch the Crucifixion)
  6. Day by Day Armageddon (the undead rise---again)
  7. Finding the "CAN" in Cancer
  8. The Microsoft Office Web Components Black Book with .NET
  9. Programming C# with Visual Studio .NET 2005
  10. The Ultimate Tattoo Guide
  11. S CURVES: The Art of Shane Glines ("illustrations and sketches by artist Shane Glines...Filled with studies, character designs, and hundreds of sexy women.")
  12. Getting Real: The smarter, faster, easier way to build a successful web application
  13. Sam, World's Ugliest Dog (three time undefeated world champion, apparently)
  14. Luciferian Witchcraft
  15. Enjoying Web Development with Tapestry (I'm sorry, but..."enjoying"?)
  16. Installing, Upgrading and Maintaining Oracle E-Business Suite Applications/a>
  17. Learn C on the Macintosh
  18. Developing Web Services with Apache Axis
  19. USPAP in Plain English (real estate)
  20. Muscadine Medicine (the healing power of grapes)

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