So are you saying that all a trad. publisher does to distribute books widely is just use LSI or Expanded Distribution? The very same thing that an indie can use, also? If so, then this sort of defeats the purpose of me wanting to get a hybrid deal.
Yes and no. A very small press is going to use POD just like a self-publisher would, so in this case they aren't bringing anything to the table that you can't get on your own. In both cases the books will be "for sale forever" and will generally be bought online through Amazon & B&N where most of the print books are sold anyway.
But a larger publisher...like I'm with or Courtney was when traditionally published. Have a different distribution system. They do a print run. Let's say 5,000 books for the sake of argument. Those go into a warehouse and the bookstores buy from the distributors (so they have just a few vendors instead of many vendors to deal with). The distributor or the publisher (or both) have entire sales teams that provide corporate buyers with their catalogs and convince them to put their books on the shelves. Getting them on shelves gives you more exposure, and more exposure can lead to more sales. As those books start selling one of three things are going to happen.
(a) they sell really well and fly out of the warehouse, in which case the publisher will do another printing, and another, and another as long as the books are selling well
(b) they will sell "okay" in which they will keep them in the warehouse until they run out and once that happens there are no more - this is the case she alluded to above where her earlier books have no new copies.
(c) they will sell terribly and the cost being incurred by the publisher in returns and warehousing outweigh the income they are getting. In which case they will force the book out of print. Essentially they will take it off the market and either pulp (shred) the books or they might selll them as remainders where some seller buys books by the pound and they are sold at used bookstores for a $1 or $2 a book.
So why do so many people want to get trad. paperback deals and/or hybrid deals if they can do it all themselves and still get the same exposure? Or is it because they DON'T WANT to do all this themselves and would rather someone else do it?
Because you don't get the same exposure. I've sold 192,000 (across 3 titles) books through traditional. 80,500 of those have been print books through the extensive distribution system of my big-five publisher. When I was self-published I sold A LOT of ebooks (not as much as H.M. but I had several months where I sold 10,000 - 12,000 books a month). But my print sales were REALLY small - only a few hundred each month, because mine were POD and only bought online.
In many ways, you don't NEED print in that you can make a really good income with just ebooks. My traditional publishing move more books for me then when I was self-published, so I have more readers (my primary concern at this point) and it provides ENOUGH income so that I don't have to work a day job. But I sell better than many traditionally published authors. I know others that have sold just 5,000 over the whole time their books were in print and in that case THESE people would have been much better off by self-publishing.
There are many many factors to consider, and no easy answer. H.M. is right you have to do analyze what you think you'll realistically do in both scenarios then chose your path. For me, personally, I calculated that I would lose $200,000 by going traditional but I was willing to do so in order to get greater exposure. Now that turned out NOT to be the case, and as it turns out I ended up making more that I would have if I stayed self (or at least I think that is the case based on my revised calculations and actual sales). But it could have just as easily gone the other way
I hope that helps to explain things.