Here's a bit of advice to authors and small publishers and readers who appreciate the innovation of the independent presses: Stay away from Books-A-Million.
After over a month of sending e-mails and making phone calls, I finally was able to talk to "Kim" at Books-A-Million. She said that unless a book was in their warehouse, the stores could not sell it or have the author in for a book signing.
So, I asked, how do you get into the warehouse? She was sketchy, but looked up my three books. Then said they didn't warehouse them. Why? Because the independent publishers use Print-On-Demand (POD).
A quick word on POD: This is the technology of the future for publishing. And most small and independent publishers use it because there is no inventory to warehouse (or destroy if sales lag). POD is more expensive per book for the publisher, but the inventory costs are zero.
Both my publishers (Regal Crest Enterprises: Fingering the Family Jewels and Devil's Bridge, and Cherokee McGhee: Under a Copper Moon) use Ingram's POD printing company.
I couldn't get Kim to say why they wouldn't take a POD book -- they are returnable if books are left after the book signing. Amazon sells a lot of these books, and returns them if they get too many at their warehouse.
So, if you want to help out independent presses and authors, ask for the books at your local independent bookstore, Amazon.com, or Barnes & Noble. These companies want to give you the full spectrum of books available.
"Books-A-Million" doesn't mean that they have millions of books to choose from, but that they only stock books that can make them millions.