Recently, I went to go and leave a review for an eBook I’d read, only to discover the author had unpublished it. In fact, the author had unpublished every eBook he had previously published.
This isn’t the first time this has happened; I’ve seen several authors who have simply unpublished their books and gone on their merry way.
I can understand changing publishers or a change of the retailers that carry your books, or authors who have been using more than one pen name combining their work under one pen name, and I can understand when paperback and hardback books go out of print. Though the going out of print and changing the retailers you distribute through is a bit frustrating; I can understand it though, even though it can sometimes be a pain, since changing retailers can sometimes make it more difficult for people to buy your books. For example, if I was buying your books on Smashwords, but now you only have them on Amazon, I can still get them, because I do have a Kindle, but I lose the ability to have them in other formats, and those who don't have a Kindle - and don't want to have to grab the Kindle ap, which not everyone does want to do, by the way - can't get your books any more. I don't think I need to explain why discovering a book is out of print is frustrating in general.
But, anyway, I don’t understand why an eBook should no longer be available at all. Especially since, I know from asking a few of these authors directly, that the most common reason for removing them is that they weren’t selling enough copies for their liking.
Maybe they weren’t. But, here’s the thing... They’re certainly not going to sell copies if you keep unpublishing any that don’t sell x amount of copies in y amount of time (where x is the number you think should get sold, and y is the amount of time you’ve allowed for this to happen).
Like I said, I can generally understand it with print books, because they require physical shelf space to store the copies, so it’s understandable if you don’t want to be storing loads of copies of books that aren’t selling. Though books published using print on demand services – like I use – don’t have this issue, and it is a little annoying when you hear about a great book only to find it's no longer in print.
But eBooks take up no physical space - just a bit of virtual space on the server of the publishing platform, and on the Kindle or other eReader the person trying to read your book is using - so why not leave them there in the hopes you’ll sell more copies in the future? Especially since you have the option on eBook publishing platforms to upload updated versions, so if your issue is that you want to upload a better cover, or you feel you can improve the story, you just need to create the improved version of the cover or interior files, and then upload them. Simple!
That way, people like me who brought your eBook, and wanted to be able to tell you – and my friends – that I enjoyed it, can still do so. I mean, if I’d been able to post that review, someone might have stumbled across the book, seen my review, decided if I enjoyed it they might too, and brought it. But now that it’s been unpublished, that can’t happen. This means, you may have just lost a potential sale of your book. The same thing applies for books people have heard about and made a note that they want to get, but by the time they are able to, you've gone and unpublished the book in question; sort of like how it is when paperback and hardback books go out of print.
Or, perhaps the author got a bad review and didn’t like it? If so... Well... For one thing, if you can’t take a bad review or two, you shouldn’t be publishing your book in the first place, because sooner or later, a bad review will come your way. For another thing, even some of the most popular authors out there got bad reviews from time to time. JRR Tolkien and J K Rowling, for example, have had their share of bad reviews on the Lord Of The Rings and Harry Potter books, and look how popular they are. So, if your issue was that you got a bad review or two... Put your big boy pants on, and suck it up. Bad reviews happen, so just see if you can learn anything from them for future writing projects (especially if you get a couple of reviews complaining about the same issue) and maybe buy yourself something nice to make yourself feel better, then move on.
Harsh? Perhaps. But this whole publishing your books thing is a harsh business. You'll never please everyone - no matter how amazing your book is - so if you're going to let it out in to the big wide world in the first place, you need to be prepared for the possibility that, sooner or later, someone is going to give it a bad review.
Also, if you're going to let it out in to the big wide world in the first place, why change your mind later, just because it's not selling x amount of copies in y amount of time? It just doesn't make sense, and it's frustrating for people who either brought your book and wanted to tell others about it, or heard about your book and wanted to grab a copy of it, which they now can't do.
OK, rant over.
I'm sorry if anyone isn't happy by my posting this, but it's been bugging me, and I wanted to get it off my chest.