Agents As Publishers? How does that work?

I am blogging early today because there is an interesting debate going on at BookEnds, LLC. Today BookEnds annouced they have started a "self-epublishing" company, that is separate from their agency of representing authors.

Several authors are weighing in on the debate: Courtney Milan, David Gaughran, and Lisa Hendrix to name a few.

Since I've been researching the e-publishing industry the market has changed many times over. Everyone in publishing is trying on new hats and shaking out their Sunday best trying to figure out how to fit in this new digital landscape. But, I've got to say that I see a conflict of interest in agents becoming publishers. Who then is representing the author? How exactly does that work? And what is a "self-epublishing" company going to do for me that I cannot do for myself? Why would I share my profit margin with them?

All of these questions are being asked. And Jessica at BookEnds is answering questions as they come up. I admire her for her tenacity and I understand that this is an industry experiencing growing pains. On the other hand, as an author I am in the camp with Milan, Gaughran, and Hendrix. This is a grevious conflict of interest.