There can be a lot of confusion about self publishing and print-on-demand. As you decide the best publishing path for you, I would like to clarify some misconceptions you may have heard.
1. MYTH: Whoever owns the ISBN owns the book.
FACT: This use to be true. Nowadays, not as much so. Most POD publishers assign an ISBN they own, and they do this for the authors’ convenience; in any case authors should ALWAYS keep all the rights to their book.
2. MYTH: Independent self-publishing is different from publishing with a POD publisher because the publisher owns the ISBN.
FACT: It is true that the ISBN identifies the publisher of record. Look for a publisher that allows authors to supply their own ISBN at some level.
3.MYTH: New York publishers promote and market all their books.
FACT: New York publishers usually devote the lion’s share of their marketing budget to the top 1% (Harry Potter, for example) of the books they publish. The other books published during that season are victims of the sliced marketing budget. Most authors don’t get any support from their traditional publisher at all.
4.MYTH: Printing a book with an off-set printer is the same as publishing it.
FACT: Printing a book is one facet of publication. Before a book can be printed, it needs to be designed. Then it needs to be printed. Then it needs wholesale distribution through Ingram and availability online with retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Then it needs fulfillment of orders and invoicing.
Printing a book with an off-set printer accomplishes one of those steps. Publishing a book with a turn-key, custom self-publisher accomplishes all of them. Some authors choose to do both; an on-demand edition complements an off-set print-run very nicely.
I hope you found this helpful. Keep writing!