Vanity Press Self-Publishing
Vanity Press owns the publishing Author owns the publishing
Vanity Press owns the ISBN Author owns the ISBN
Vanity Press owns the printing files Author owns the printing files
Vanity Press owns the earns the publishing profits Author earns the publishing profits
Author pays the production costs Author pays the production costs
Author gets a royalty Author gets the royalty
Major publishing houses
Random House, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster – or smaller imprints owned by them.
HarperCollins was founded in New York City in 1817 by the brothers James and John Harper and is now a subsidiary of News Corporation. Read more about the history of the press here, or learn more about their acquisitions process with an interview with editor Jeanette Perez.
Penguin Group boasts an enormous backlist of classic books, which gives their editors the luxury of investing in writers in a more traditional way. This means more stability for the lucky writers whose work is accepted here.
Much of the blockbuster work -- the work you see in the Barnes and Noble windows -- sports the Random House logo on the spine. Currently owned by the German media company Bertelsmann, they've been publishing books since 1927.
Simon & Schuster
Currently owned by CBS, Simon & Schuster imprints include Pocket Books, Scribner, Free Press, Atria, Fireside, Touchstone, and Atheneum Books for Young Readers. They publish some 2,000 books each year, many of them bestsellers.
Hachette Book Group
The result of French publisher Hachette Livre's acquisition of Time Warner Book Group, Hachette Book Group comprises imprints Little, Brown and Company, Grand Central Publishing (formerly Warner Books), and Orbit, a science fiction and fantasy imprint.
Note: If the publisher is selling you, it's not a major publisher. It's going to cost you money. They are selling a product, not publishing books.