You may remember a post I made awhile back were I talked about an email I received from Lambert Academic Publishers (LAP). In the post (Academic Spam?), I talked about how, while a legitimate company and offer, the LAP email struck me as odd. While I never referred to the LAP offer as spam in the post, I nevertheless caught the attention of the company itself. Michael Davis, a representative from LAP requested that I change my post title, and in the process an interesting conversation ensued. As this is my blog, and it represents my own opinions, not those of my readers I was not inclined to change anything. But because I think it’s interesting, I offered to write this post containing the position of LAP, as well as my thoughts on the matter.
Here is the official canned response from LAP, sent by Michael Davis:
Attention: All readers and authors.
I am writing on behalf of Lambert Academic Publishing. Publishing houses have long been considered as closed to everyone, without any interaction with authors, book buyers and readers. However, we, at LAP are different from conventional publishers. Instead we pursue an innovative ‘open book policy’ where we continuously identify scientific and academic projects from different universities and colleges. We do contact authors by email and propose publishing contract to them. Our aim is to provide knowledge to a wide market and connect the book buyers and readers to the right author and the books they are looking for.
Our books are distributed through more than 80,000 bookstores and more than 3,000 online shops worldwide.
We are committed in providing the best publishing experience available to our authors, we are thus open to the concerns of all our authors and customers. While our request for bank details have been often assumed to be some type of identity fraud we wish reassure our authors that we use the VeriSign security system and that such request is for the sole purpose of royalties payment. Upon suggestions of many authors we will be soon implementing new royalties payment methods such as Paypal.
Often confused with Vanity Press our publishing model is very different from it. We wish to provide the following details on the difference between a Vanity Press and our publishing model:
- We distribute your book worldwide through mainstream and well known shops such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble or AbeBooks.
- You are not charged any cost for the production of your book. We bear all production,distribution and marketing cost for you and we pay you royalties for specific periods.
- You are able to publish 80% your book through journals and reviews. Your book is not tied up when you get a contract from LAP.
Whereas Vanity Press charges for all the services mentioned above instead LAP look after all these at no cost to the author and with the advantage of a dedicated Acquisition Editor who is engaged to attend all the author’s requests.
In a time where most actors of the publishing industry are turning irrelevant and out of date, LAP Group partners with its authors to enter the new publishing era. Authors can join us now and be part of this revolution of the publishing industry.
Customer Service Executive
In our email conversation, Michael states:
[W]e wish to make it clear that this is not a publishing spam rather an invitation to publish, whereas if the recipient refuses to do so we do not contact them again. However the title of your blog might be misleading to new authors.
Michael is right, the offer from LAP is not spam- if you do not respond, you’ll never hear from them again (unless of course you blog about the experience). However, I argue the title of my original post, “Academic Spam?” is not confusing to my readers- it’s a question, inviting the reader to make his or her own stance on the issue.
There are other, more significant reasons why I would not use LAP, nor recommend it to any of my friends or colleagues. The first, and main reason is philosophical really. According to their website, one of LAP’s main targets for publication are Bachelors and Masters theses. There is no peer-review, and “[p]roofreading is not performed as it would not be financeable.” As an author, you do get some royalties, though try as I might I could find a reliable source for how much (the best I found was 3% of profits- perhaps Michael will clarify). Prices of these paperback, printed on demand books are very inflated (take a look for yourself), and most people will not buy a book that is that expensive if they can just interlibrary loan the thesis. Meanwhile, you lose your exclusive copyright to the totality of your work.
By far the better choice (especially in the sciences) is to make articles from your thesis to publish in respected, peer-reviewed journals. I took a look at several of the authors of some of the LAP pubs listed on Amazon. Most of the authors’ CVs were easy to find with a web search- not one of 10 or so authors’ CVs I looked at included the LAP book. Why is that you might ask? Well, since there is no peer-review, proof-reading, or other quality measures in place, these publications are not viewed as meritorious work. The reference for your thesis itself, not the LAP book, has more weight as sound research.
So, yes, while LAP is technically not a “Vanity Press,” as you do not pay for your own book, I agree fully with Victoria Strauss that LAP (which is a subsidiary of VDM) is ultimately an author mill. Publication through LAP, while technically being a legitimate outlet, is a buyer beware situation.