Denver-based Outskirts Press, which claims to be “the fastest-growing full-service book publishing and book marketing firm,” has just launched a self-publishing platform for authors targeting the iBooks platform, with an iPad/iPhone standard edition package for $299, according to an announcement made via the London Book Fair.

How this offering differs from the current “iPad/iPhone Premium Edition with Private Label iBooks Distribution” package available off the Outskirts website for $699 is not clear. The product blurb for the package outlines what it can achieve but not how it works – such as whether Outskirts undertakes to edit a manuscript delivered to it, what the formatting options are, what kind of publicity or marketing support, if any, is offered, etc. Given the number of add-on options available via the Outskirts website, such as a custom press release for $219 or five celebrity endorsements for $109, it’s reasonable to assume that many of these are offered as optional, but not cost-free, extras.

Smashwords in particular is known for its strong relations with the iBooks platform, and has nothing like this upfront cost structure. So although the quoted costs for Outskirts’ services don’t run too far past what you would normally pay suppliers for anyway if you went the full bells-and-whistles self-publishing route, it’s fair to assume that Outskirts has pitched its tent fairly squarely in the vanity self-publishing camp. Their site is also chock full of ads and promo buttons, with offerings like “Receive $300 in spending money during Mad Money Month.”

Just as a comparison, and not especially to boost Smashwords, here’s a sample of their literature: “We DON’T employ sales people.  We’ll NEVER try to sell you anything (because we don’t sell anything!). Our interests are 100% aligned with your interests.  Since we only earn income on commission, our business is entirely oriented toward helping our authors, publishers and literary agents reach more readers and sell more books.”

Meanwhile, “say good-bye to the rejection of traditional publishers and the two-year publishing cycle.  Say good-bye to the hassles of independent self-publishing, like guessing print-runs, managing inventory, and the responsibility of order fulfillment,” says the generic Outskirts introductory blurb. “Say hello to the flexibility and control of self-publishing combined with the full-service support and confidence of a book publishing company, all under one roof. Outskirts Press offers you the best of both worlds by combining the advantages of independent self-publishing with the advantages of traditional book publishing.”

Say goodbye to a fair slice of your money too, it seems. Just make sure it’s worth it.