Terri Guiliano Long gives her perspective on the distribution of independent publishers' books:
In 2011, Barbara Freethy, a #1 New York Times bestselling author of thirty novels, began self-publishing her backlist. Freethy has sold an amazing 1.5 million books. While she’s currently in talks with distributors, bookstores do not yet stock her self-published titles. It may be tempting to chalk it up to a conspiracy to marginalize indie books—conspiracy theories are fun! In reality, it comes down to dollars and cents.
Terri breaks down some of the barriers to successful distribution, and outlines some hope for the future:
Barbara Freethy is currently exploring her print distribution options. “This is a huge untapped market,” Freethy says. “I personally have many, many readers clamoring for my books to come out in print . . . [now] if they don't have an electronic reader, they're out of luck.”
This is quite a lengthy article, and there are some great examples of agents and publishers (and authors) working within the confines of the existing system to get their books out there.