Taking a file and running a conversion program on it is nothing at all like Scholastic typesetting, design a new cover for, creating new frontmatter for, printing, and distributing a NAm edition of book originally by Bloomsbury. I repeat: What you are talking about is nothing but format-shifting. It is no different from you posting a piece of digital art at DeviantArt, and me (pursuant to permissive licensing terms) putting a copy of it on my Facebook feed; which entails a new copy there, and a re-encoding, i.e. a format shift, and me and Facebook distributing the work to new people. Neither I nor Facebook become the publisher; DeviantArt remains the publisher, Facebook is the
|via=. I suppose a philosophical argument can be made that they are two different kinds of publishing really, but who cares? The format-shifting and additional distribution isn't "publishing" for WP citation purposes.
This distinction is the very reason that the
|via= parameter was created, to stop mis-attributing format-shifted and other repostings by random pseudo-publishers and content aggregators as the
|publisher=, but retain the name of the actual publisher as such, and the name of the online distributor, so that people can find the work in the original form, not just on some possibly short-lived website, but can also use that website for convenience, and not be confused about the difference. For all we know, Google Books or Project Gutenberg could disappear tomorrow forever. The distinction is especially important for any entity that both reformats and distributes (
|via=) material on behalf of external, traditional publishers, and also act as the publisher itself, for new (generally amateur) content. Amazon is already doing this, and this kind of business model shift can happen at any time (e.g. HBO, Netflix, and Amazon are all publishers of original television and e-TV series, when formerly they were, respectively, a cable redistributor, a by-mail and later online stream redistributor, and an e-tailer, of previously published content. So, already, any such entity could appear as a
|publisher= or a
|via=, for different sources in the same article, and the distinction in each case would matter.
When it comes to historical sources, the original publisher information is also often of pertinent, even of crucial value, since significant difference can exist between the 1645 version of something from a London publisher, and a 1672 edition produced in Dublin, without any intermediary e-distributor like Project Gutenberg even being aware of it. Or – and this is telling – they often are aware of it, and so is Google Books, and take pains to note the actual publisher. Neither service claims to be the publisher of such works, and it is a weird form of original research for WP to insist that they are.
With that, I'm kind of tired of arguing round in circles on this stuff, and don't need to keep at it. We have separate parameters for these things for both a citation accuracy and utility reason (helping readers find and use sources) and a policy reason, en:w:WP:SAYWHEREYOUGOTIT, and neither the separation of these parameters nor the rationales for the separation are going to go away just because you don't see it the same way. I could even be totally wrong about every single ting I've said other than the last sentence and it wouldn't make any difference, since there's already a consensus to keep them separate, and it is not necessary for my analysis of why to be correct (though it is). — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼ 10:40, 1 August 2016 (UTC)