I recently came across a blog post at B&H Academic regarding their self-publishing imprint, CrossBooks. Even though CrossBooks been around since 2009, I had not heard of this aspect of their business. Self-publishing has moved from vanity press to mainstream in the last few years, spurred on of course by the wider changes in the publishing industry. This imprint at a major publisher only means that it will become more prevalent.
On the one hand I can see the value in self-publishing. There is a lot of good stuff out there that deserves to be published, but you can't hardly get your foot in the door, even with Christian publishers, unless you are already an A-list author or you have an agent. Self-publishing is remaking the business so high-quality, new authors can get their material published which might not otherwise see the light of day.
On the other hand this might be a sea change that brings negative consequences. Peer-review has always been the standard for academic publishing to ensure a higher quality of scholarship. It's not a perfect system, but it does have a worthy goal. Self-publishing as a rule removes peer-review from the process. That's not a problem if we are talking about a spy thriller, but the stakes are different when biblical scholarship is at stake. This initiative by B&H is not without some review: At CrossBooks all titles are reviewed for theological content, so it's not simply a pay-to-play system. But there are fewer checks and balances on the scholarship than there would be in a traditional model.
Perhaps self-publishing will be the wave of the future even in academic publishing. I don't know, but I'm excited to see what develops in the next few years.