Some thoughts from around the web:
"The terms "small press", "indie publisher", and "independent press" are often used interchangeably, with "independent press" defined as publishers that are not part of large conglomerates or multinational corporations."
"There has been a blurring of the line between indie author and indie publisher that seems to be mostly related to size and scope of the business. I am an indie publisher of my own books so it’s basically the same thing as being an indie author, but there are small & midsize independent publishing houses who don’t like the term indie being used for people like me. However, there are increasing numbers of micro-businesses being set up by authors who also publish other author’s books so these perhaps count as indie publishers.
"Independent publishers outside of the Big Six, like Soho and Algonquin, have been known as "Indie" publishers for a long time. The authors who are (traditionally) published by them wear their Indie cred with pride.
"Personally, I think "indie" should be reserved for publishing companies and businesses. Of course, in the publishing world it is an euphemism for "small"."
"Indie Publishers – Indie publishers, are writers who take full control of their product from cover design, formatting, marketing, editing, etc. They feel more comfortable with the processes and technical aspects of the game. Indie publishers operate like a small press, doing every task in house or subcontracting to those more qualified. They not only hold the rights to their book, but they do not have to answer to a third party to make changes or upgrade quality. Indie publishers often spend far less money on the production of their books and are not restricted to specific price points, cover designs, etc."
"Indie publishing is when authors publish their manuscripts as ebooks with online e-publishers, use a print-on-demand company or publisher for print books (such as CreateSpace), or do both. There are no upfront fees; rather, the company/publisher/e-publisher takes a small percentage of the profits from each book/ebook that is sold. Print-on-demand companies/publishers print your books as consumers order them. Indie publishing is an affordable and convenient way to publish.
Self-publishing includes the two methods of indie publishing, but also includes publishing print books with a press. With the press method, authors have to do all the editing and formatting themselves, or hire someone to do it. Authors deal directly with the press. Authors have to buy a certain number of books from the press (which requires a large sum of money to be paid upfront), and the more books that are purchased, the cheaper the price of each book. Authors must then hold on to all of the books, and market and sell them themselves, or hire someone to do it which can be expensive. Whether the authors sell all of the books they purchased or not is another issue. Many authors buy too many copies and get "stuck" with extra boxes of books.
A vanity publisher uses the press method and charges authors upfront for the service. The amount authors pay the vanity publisher is usually more than when authors go directly to a press, because the vanity publisher serves as a "middle man" and charges extra for the service This is not a recommended way to publish a book."
Just a quick note as to my views:
I look at independent publishers as small publishing houses that put their authors interests first. I certainly do not consider vanity presses to be indie publishers. Authors who publish themselves are, in my opinion, self-publishing and also indie authors.
What do you think an indie publisher is?