I had lunch today with a well-established academic philosopher who is seriously considering self-publishing his next academic book. His reasoning runs roughly as follows: He doesn't need any further academic credentials ("I'm non-promotable"); his work has already appeared in / been published by the most prestigious journals and presses ("I've already proven myself"); and the crucial chapters of the book are based on recently presented material that has been criticized and commented on by other experts in his field ("The book has already been reviewed extensively by my peers"). From this, he concludes that there's no advantage to himself or his career from publishing with the big-time University Press that is ready to offer a contract.
But he also sees positive considerations against publishing with a UP. He claims: The UP contracts short-change authors; the rights/control that Presses claim over authors' work (including their future work) are unreasonable; the marketing/sales operations at even the best Presses are inefficient, unreliable, and even under good circumstances often ineffective; the copy-editors have become unbearably ignorant yet increasingly interventionist; the quality the physical books has declined.
Finally, he claims the following as positive reasons in support of self-publishing: He retains ownership of his work; he controls the distribution, production, and promotion of the book; the Internet and various sites (Amazon included) make it relatively easy to produce and sell the book; and (maybe?) he gives some lesser-known philosopher a chance to get a book accepted at the big-time University Press (viz., by causing there to be one less ms in the system by a well-established person).
Is he wrong?