I am still a little confused about the distribution through Ingram. So, does that mean we’re guaranteed to at least have a few books in the bookstores Ingram works with? Or, does it depend on how many copies the bookstores want to order from Ingram?
Ingram is the largest book distributor and Ingram does indeed “distribute” most POD books (and most traditionally published books as well). However, distribution is entirely different from stocking. Distribution simply means they will send a copy directly to a particular store IF the store orders that book. For POD books, that usually means a customer has walked into a store, and asked them to special-order a particular book to hold for that customer.
Ingram distribution does not mean stores will “stock” a book. Many POD publishers use verbiage to try to trick authors into thinking their book will be stocked in all the bookstores (“worldwide bookstore distribution!”). Nothing could be further from the truth and authors should avoid companies that use tricky marketing verbiage in this way.
Ingram sends an electronic feed to online bookstores, and also makes their electronic catalog available to physical bookstores. Bookstores don’t automatically stock books just because Ingram distributes them. Ingram distributes millions of titles. More than 750K books are published each year now and bookstores don’t stock the vast majority of them, including traditionally published books. There simply isn’t enough shelf space. Also, most books are purchased online now.
If you want a particular bookstore to stock your book, you will need to negotiate with that store directly. Before you do, please read read: Marketing to Bookstores – Still a Waste of Time?