There are two different concepts in setting up book distribution programs. When you want to have your books in all the book stores you can hire one of many of the firms who will put your books in, not only the major chains, but the smaller bookstores as well.
The services will find bookstores that include the more targeted type of store who specialize in your topic area. More often than not you’ll sell more books in specialty stores than major chain stores.
The bookstore will require 50% of the book cover price as their commission. When you factor in a $20 book, $5 to print and $10 going to the bookstore, you’ll end up with $5 for yourself.
The challenge is that unless you become a household name, people will not typically walk into a bookstore to find your book. If they happen upon it on the shelf, who is your competition? Are they a big name author or well known in their industry? What will make someone choose your book over all others?
One of my friends in San Diego had his books in a major brand bookstore and after five years he received a call one day when he was told he had ten days to submit a check for over $100,000 to purchase the books back from the chain. The books weren’t selling and they wanted to open up the shelf space.
I always recommend my authors avoid putting their books in bookstores and only sell through bookstores when they are doing a booksigning.