Andrew AlbaneseA class action lawsuit … Or a series of gripes? That’s the question before a familiar name in a Manhattan federal court.

In the same courtroom that once heard arguments about the Apple e-book price-fixing case, Judge Denise Cote is now hearing charges that Author Solutions – a Penguin Random House company – deceived authors in order to sell them fraudulent self-publishing services. Cote will soon rule on whether the case meets the threshold for “class action” status.

As self-publishing has evolved toward independent publishing, the vanity has largely gone out of most projects, allowing the business to emerge. The Author Solutions court case, though, could remind authors and readers of the bad old days, notes Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly senior writer.

“Without question, the case comes at a time when self-publishing is growing and maturing,” he tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally. “The filings vividly recall the dark days of the vanity press, when authors were wooed by various companies only to be saddled with expensive fees and garage-loads of sub-par books.”

Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.

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