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The Strange Case of LAP Lambert and the World of Book Mills

By Amanda Hoover

September 7, 2024

In the vast realm of publishing, a curious phenomenon has emerged, epitomized by companies like LAP Lambert Academic Publishing and its parent company, VDM. These entities operate in a gray area between traditional publishing houses and vanity presses, raising questions about the integrity of the publishing industry and the exploitation of aspiring authors.

My personal encounter with LAP Lambert began with an intriguing email from Karen Holmes, an acquisition editor at the company. She informed me that my undergraduate thesis could be published as a book. Intrigued by the prospect of seeing my work in print, I decided to delve deeper into LAP Lambert’s operations.

A quick online search revealed a plethora of blog posts and articles criticizing LAP Lambert’s business model. These critiques painted a picture of a company that operates as a content farm, acquiring the rights to academic theses, dissertations, and other unpublished works for minimal compensation. The company then repackages these works as books, often without proper editing or proofreading. Moreover, authors are typically stripped of their copyright and receive only a small percentage of royalties, if any.

Upon further investigation, I discovered that LAP Lambert is just one part of a larger publishing group called VDM, which publishes a staggering number of books each month. Many of these books are generated from text copied directly from Wikipedia articles, raising ethical and legal concerns.

To gain a firsthand perspective, I reached out to Thorsten Ohm, VDM’s CEO. In a candid interview, Ohm defended the company’s practices, arguing that they provide a platform for authors who may not have the opportunity to publish their work elsewhere. However, critics argue that LAP Lambert’s model is predatory, exploiting the aspirations of aspiring authors, particularly those from developing countries.

Despite the mounting criticism, I decided to proceed with publishing my thesis with LAP Lambert, hoping to gain insight into their process and expose their questionable practices. The lack of editorial oversight was immediately apparent, as I received no feedback or suggestions for improvement. The cover design was predetermined, and I had no say in the matter.

Throughout the process, I received multiple emails pressuring me to purchase copies of my own book at discounted rates, a common tactic employed by vanity presses to boost sales figures. Despite the lack of sales, I eventually succumbed to the pressure and purchased a copy of my book, only to find it riddled with errors and typos. I also discovered a hidden message I had intentionally inserted as a test, confirming that LAP Lambert’s editors had not thoroughly reviewed the text.

My experience with LAP Lambert is a cautionary tale, highlighting the dubious practices of book mills that prey on aspiring authors. It raises questions about the integrity of the publishing industry, the value of peer review, and the exploitation of authors seeking to share their work with the world.

In the face of these predatory practices, it is crucial for authors to be aware of their rights and to thoroughly research any publisher before submitting their work. Open-access platforms and self-publishing services offer authors more control over their work and fairer terms, empowering them to share their ideas without falling prey to exploitative publishers.

The case of LAP Lambert and VDM serves as a stark reminder of the importance of ethical publishing practices and the need for authors to be vigilant in protecting their rights. By shedding light on these questionable operations, we can help to ensure that the integrity of the publishing industry is upheld and that authors are treated fairly.

Call to Action:

If you are an author who has been approached by LAP Lambert or VDM, or if you have had a similar experience with a book mill, share your story in the comments below. Together, we can raise awareness about these predatory practices and protect aspiring authors from exploitation.