Canaries and coal mines

Years ago, I went on a grueling trip, four cities in four days doing speaking gigs. That meant I was in a lot of airports. At every airport bookstore, there wasn't a single copy of any of my books, including one that had recently came out.

I whined to the team at my book publisher. What sort of distribution was this?

Someone wrote back, "Seth, if you tell us which airports you'll be visiting, our salesforce says they will do their best to have your book in a place you can see it."

My own little Potemkin Village. I'm afraid he didn't really get the point I was after.

Don't save the canary. Fix the coal mine.