I’m linking you to Lynn Price at The Behler Blog yet again, because she just keeps making so much sense. This time she discusses how, in the migration of definitions, you can figure out whether your “publisher” deserves the quote marks or not.
This section alone is why the world needs more blogs like this one:
Instead of guessing and pondering with a friend who isn’t well-versed in publishing, you should be asking your prospective publisher who distributes their books. If they say IPG, Perseus, Consortium, NBN, IPS, then you know they are working on all cylinders because they have to have a certain amount of $$ coming in to even qualify. They are a proven quantity.
If they say Ingram and Baker and Taylor, then they do NOT have distribution. These entities are fulfillment warehouses. They don’t have sales teams out there pitching their catalog to buyers.