My wife Carol and I are starting a virtual publishing business. We are seeking a few authors to work with.
Carol is a world class editor and I am going to help authors with book content planning, technical editing, and marketing. We are aiming for the niche book market. I have noticed that the large book chains now have very little shelf space devoted to computer books. With fewer books sold through the major book store chains, instant on demand printing is looking more attractive since print on demand books can still be purchased from Amazon and directly from the printer. Additionally, traditional publishers must consider the size of market for any proposed book project to offset their high overhead per book while the cost is relatively constant for instant printing.
We are planning on flipping the royalty split differently than traditional publishers: authors will get most of the profit from each book sold. The profit from on demand printed books will probably be around $10 to $15 per book. Compare this to a few dollars per book that publishers usually pay in royalties.
I believe that both authors and my wife and I can make sufficient profit from niche market books to make this profitable. I am about 1/3 done with my first book that we will publish ("Practical Artificial Intelligence Programming in Java, third edition") and I have done some work on writing example programs for a work in progress ("Practical Semantic Web Programming in Java").
My advice to people wanting to write a book: if the topic is more "mass market", then I would recommend going with a traditional publisher. I have had 14 books published and with only one exception, every publisher that I have worked with has been great. However, many of us have a real passion for specific subjects that are more niche or small market: here I believe it is better to write what you have real passion for, and hope that the higher profit per book sold makes print on demand work financially.