I was reading a few different blogs about the topics and thought to throw in my 2 cents...
Okay...there's a difference between 'indy,' 'self,' 'POD' and 'vanity' publishing...
"Indy" Publishing - This idea (or term) comes from the music industry where bands or artists who are not signed with a large record label (Sony, WEA, EMI, etc) either go with a 'small' label or a label the band set up themselves. They find a recording studio, graphic artist(s) and cd duplication place and basically do it all themselves, even the marketing and the video production. This holds true with an 'indy' publishing. It is an author who either goes with a small to medium publishing house that's not connected with the big 6, or the author sets up their own publishing house to do their own books (and maybe others as well). This means setting up their own label, getting their own isbn, hiring their own editors and graphic artists. It also means they find their own printer, whether they use POD technology or offset is up to the author/publisher.
"Self" Publishing - This is where the author publishes their books without going under a 'label'. They are doing it all under their own name. The author pays for everything - editing, cover design, etc. As well as the print run. (You can see the confusion between this and 'indy' publishing.)
"POD" - is the TECHNOLOGY of printing one book at a time rather than offset printing. PERIOD. Companies that use this technology but who are PRINTERS with DISTRIBUTION are Lightning Source. Createspace also does this, but they also offer author services that one DOES NOT HAVE TO TAKE TO BE PRINTED AND DISTRIBUTED BY THEM.
“Vanity” Publishing – This is where the author is suckered into paying a company to do all the editing, cover design, marketing, isbn allocation etc, despite the type of printing (offset or POD) is done. This is usually done in an 'author friendly package' that seems like a deal but ends up being a scam. Some infamous companies are iUniverse, Trafalgar, Author House, Author Solutions, Writer’s House, etc… These are so called ‘assisted self publishing’ but they are not because you are forced into having your book under their isbn and you have to sign your publishing rights to them. Not only that, they set the price of your book and they give you a royalty. This is the worst type of publishing situation to get into. Period.
One last type is “Assisted Self Publishing” in the real sense. This is where a company helps, for a fee, authors self publish under THE AUTHORS OWN ISBN. They just sell the services of graphic arts, editing, marketing, etc, and they also will help the author connect with a reputable printer and/or POD company for greater distribution. The only monies received are for the services of helping to self publish in the truest sense, such as doing editing on the book, creating the book block, creating the cover, etc. They don’t take a cut of each book sold. The only monies received are for the individual services. Unfortunately I haven’t found a place that is like this in truth.