If you're at all interested in the business side of the book business, you should read this post, in which sci-fi author John Scalzi tears a Random House imprint's author contract to shreds. The most unbelievable aspects of the contract involve the fact that there is no advance and the author only gets a single copy of the book. Scalzi sums up:
THIS IS A HORRIBLE AWFUL TERRIBLE APPALLING DISGUSTING CONTRACT WHICH IS BAD AND NO WRITER SHOULD SIGN IT EVER. Yes, I’m aware I’ve already said this. It bears repeating. It doesn’t matter whether it’s from Alibi, Hydra or anyone. Run away from it, as fast as you can, arms flailing like a Muppet’s. It’s the only rational response.
With deals like this, is it any wonder that so many people are turning to self-publishing?