- by Susan Lyons
I just found out that my very first book, Champagne Rules, which was one of the launch titles in Kensington’s Aphrodisia line in February 2006, is out of print – meaning that it’s not available in print from either my publisher’s website nor any of the major online stores. As it turns out, the same is true of two of my other titles, from 2007.
It’s an odd thing to reflect on. At one time, my dearest wish was to sell a book and see it on store shelves. Now, no-one will ever see that first book again on store shelves. Yes, I have a bunch of other titles in print, and more coming up in 2010 and 2011, but still there’s something sad about seeing my first book go out of print. Or seeing any book go out of print. Authors poured their hearts into those books, readers invested their hearts in them, and now they’re gone from the shelves.
It happens every day, doesn’t it? Books that aren’t “classics” but are still wonderful books by incredible authors stop being available.
And yet – hallelujah! – there are e-books. How lucky we are to live in these times because an e-book never needs to go “out of print” unless the publisher and author both agree to let that happen.
If Kensington decided for whatever reason to stop publishing the electronic versions of Champagne Rules, at a certain point I could ask for my rights back and I could publish the book in electronic format myself – because I own copyright in the words (though I’d have to create a new cover, because the publisher has copyright in that).
An increasing number of authors are doing exactly that: taking books that had gone out of print and putting them into digital editions. I think it’s a very exciting development.
I also wonder what impact it will have on the authors like me who are mid-list or lower, not bestsellers. It’s hard enough for readers to find our books now, so what will it be like when better known authors make every single one of their titles available, now and forever?
The fiction publishing industry seems to be changing day by day, and every change has both positive and negative implications. All that we authors, and we readers, can do is ride the waves and do our best to keep on our feet and enjoy ourselves! And of course, keep on reading. And writing.