Simon & Schuster, one of the big five-going-on-four publishers, has launched a self-publishing branch called Archway Publishing.
So, what will Archway clients--er, authors--get? The basic fiction package is $1,999, and authors get a list of services related to book production and a few others with tantalizing designations like "channel distribution to 38,000 retailers worldwide" (which appears to mean that books will be available for order, and that mostly through Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com) and "editorial assessment" (that's a sample chapter edit for you to assess Archway's editors, not for the editors to assess your book).
A writer can get the premium package for $14,999, and that includes a "concierge service" with an Archway representative who handles, among other things, "manuscript submission," although I'm not sure where the manuscript is being submitted since the agent and traditional publisher are already out of the loop.
Perhaps the most important thing these authors are buying is the Archway logo, which includes "From Simon & Schuster" at the bottom.
By comparison, an author can get a basic Create Space book design package for $728 and a more comprehensive package including design, copyediting, online distribution, and promotional materials for $4,634.
Going the Archway route seems a bit like staying at the Waldorf Astoria Trianon Palace. You're paying a lot to stay at a fancy hotel in the green space just outside Versailles, but you're still not staying at Versailles.
It will be interesting to see (1) how many authors decide that the Simon & Schuster affiliation is with the price and (2) whether Archway raises the profiles of its author clients or lowers Simon & Schuster's profile overall.