I don’t like to take books out of print. In fact, we have spent the last 16 years trying like hell to keep everything possible in print.
Recently, we took “The Solution at Hand” out of print, and our email lit up with people asking “why?” Interestingly, many of these people had not bought the book and were disappointed they couldn’t buy a copy. Which is one of the reasons books go out of print.
There are many reasons books are discontinued. Here are the common ones.
- The book is a translation or reprint from another publisher (think “Grandpa’s Workshop”). When you buy foreign rights, it’s typically for five years. After that you have to re-up with a new and expensive advance. You do the math and realize you won’t make a profit until 10 years, so….
- The author dies or becomes incapacitated. And the author’s literary heirs don’t want the book to continue in print.
- The book stops selling. And it gets to the point where you lose money every month paying for storage.
To reduce our storage fees (and get more control over our operations), we bought the Anthe building in downtown Covington, an old factory. According to the inventory analysis we did, we had plenty of room on the first and second floors for our books.
Someone, somewhere made a mistake.
We were told we had three semi loads of books. After we unloaded the third semi, we sighed with relief. Everything fit, barely. Then John got a phone call. There were two more semis coming.
We don’t have elevator access to the third floor (yet), so we had to rent storage lockers to hold the 40 pallets of books on the last two semis.
So we are in a bit of a bind right now. Until we get the third floor ready for storage, we barely have any room to move. We have pallets of new titles on the way. “Cricket Tables” by Derek Jones should be here in the next two weeks.
Where are we going to put them?
And that’s another reason we have to discontinue books. John and I are working on a lot of ideas that should get us the space we need. But until then, we have to be careful. Otherwise, I’ll end up storing books under every bed, chair and table in my house – just like we did in the beginning years of this company.
So if I had any advice for our customers it’s this: If there’s a book you want to own someday, buy it now. I am still trying like hell to keep all our titles in print, but right now it’s an almost impossible task.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. Some of you have asked if we could sell the pdfs of discontinued books. Many times the contracts we sign make that impossible. But it might be possible for some titles. So thanks for that suggestion.