Greg Frost has a thoughtful and necessary essay up at the Wild River Review, about having his new book, Lord Tophet*, shunned by one of the big chains (it could happen to you):
A few weeks ago, I found out that my latest book would not be carried by the Borders bookstore chain. Anywhere. At all. Worldwide. Not a single copy. Lest you think that the book did something bad to earn this treatment, the novel, Lord Tophet, is a lead title from Random House’s fantasy/science fiction imprint, Del Rey Books, the sequel to Shadowbridge, a novel that Borders did carry. In fact, Shadowbridge received glowing reviews and went back to print twice in its first six months. You might think, “Say, that’s kind of impressive.”
The reason Borders decided not to carry the new book is that, according to them, its predecessor didn’t sell "as well as anticipated." It sold; it just didn’t sell enough for Borders. What’s enough? I have absolutely no idea. Nobody else seems to, either.
He goes on to talk about the larger implications of such a system. Go forth and read it. Then, buy Greg’s book. (I just started Shadowbridge, and am greatly impressed thus far.)
*Yes, I realize the irony that I’m linking to Amazon, but I frequent our brick and mortar indie and Amazon alike. Your mileage may vary. And I fully support ordering from Powell’s or your local bookstore, but if you want an immediate impulse buy, the links are above.