The use of the Caribbean Press imprint for the publication of the book of Minister Frank Anthony’s daughter – a paid publication – raises many issues and Mr Ruel Johnson is quite correct to bring this matter to the public’s notice.
The payment for a book’s publication makes the imprint a vanity publisher and this is where the main contention lies. When the Caribbean Press imprint was launched, its mission, as far as the public was aware was not that of a vanity press.
Neither Peepal Tree Press nor Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, both mentioned by Mr Johnson, operate as vanity presses as far as I am aware. (I did not, for instance, pay Peepal Tree Press for the publication of my novel.) Vanity presses are all commercial ventures. They print and publish works that the authors pay for.
Traditional publishers work in a directly opposite way: they pay the authors for their work. This makes their selection of what they do publish very rigorous. To take a writer on board means that they have judged their work to be well written and well executed, and that their books will sell. A writer receives an advance payment on signing a contract with a traditional publishing house and will receive royalties for every book sold.
The main question here is whether the government has changed the mission and direction of the Caribbean Press imprint. The Minister’s payment for publication suggests that it has. It suggests that Caribbean Press is now a vanity publisher. Given this, other authors must now be allowed to send in their work to Caribbean Press for publication at publicly posted rates for design, editing and printing.
To do otherwise would suggest impropriety.