Originally launched as an e-book and self-publishing firm in 1997, 1stBooks, a print-on-demand subsidy publisher, is taking another step in its development and changing its name to AuthorHouse.

Robert McCormack, president of 1st Books and now AuthorHouse, said the change reflects the growth of the company and the success of POD self-publishing. "We've grown tremendously over the last five years. In 2000 we published a couple hundred authors; last year we published more than 7,500." AuthorHouse offers a wide variety of publishing, editorial and promotional services for a fee (its basic fee for publishing is about $700), but McCormack was quick to emphasize that the new name would not result in a price rise. "There will be no fee changes," he said

AuthorHouse revenue, said McCormack, grew by more than 50% in 2003, and the number of employees has increased from 82 in 2002 to 200 in 2003. The house now has about 20,000 titles in print from more than 18,000 authors. Its bestselling title is Spiritual Marketing by Joe Vitale. First published in 2002, it has sold approximately 40,000 copies.

The firm is rolling out a newly redesigned Web site (www.authorhouse.com) and is beefing up its support services. In recent months, AH has added returnability for booksellers, color printing, and co-op advertising deals with such magazines as Foreword, USA Today and Christianity Today. McCormack noted that AH offers Outbound book, a service that helps place AH books with retailers and negotiate movie options, and also works to build relationships with agents and traditional publishing houses to place its books.

Agents and traditional publishers, said McCormack, have changed their view of POD self-publishing. "We have one of the largest selections of author talent available," he said. "Our authors come to agents and publishers with a finished book and real sales numbers. We take a bit of the risk off the table for publishers. Our authors control all the rights and agents and traditional publishers can deal with them immediately."