Our authors’ books are available as ebooks, and as paperbacks using print on demand technology. Both technologies mean the books will never go out of print, unless the author specifically wants them to.

With print on demand, books are printed and bound as they are needed. There is no need for a large up-front investment to pay for a print run, and no need to store hundreds of books. But there is a less obvious advantage which I’d like to discuss here.

When a book is always available, it can benefit from unexpected interest in a way that isn’t possible otherwise. If something creates interest in your book, anyone that wants a copy will be able to buy it if it’s available as an ebook or print on demand.

Where demand comes from

You might be able to drive interest yourself. In an episode of the
AskALLi podcast, Orna Ross talked about promoting one of her older books to coincide with the centenary of an event in the book. This is likely to be a potential marketing hook for historical fiction and non-fiction authors, but there are possibilities for other authors too.

Perhaps someone else will cause a flurry of interest. It’s well known in publishing circles that a celebrity endorsement of a book can drive book sales. The Oprah Effect, named after Oprah Winfrey because her book club always generated a lot of interest and sales. Other celebrities also have book clubs. Reese Witherspoon has one with the stated goal of elevating female voices. The Richard and Judy book club is big in the UK, and Emma Watson has a feminist book club.

Book clubs aren’t the only things that can cause sudden interest in a book. In 2020, a podcast released audio readings of a book titled The Cauldron, written under the pseudonym Zeno. It had been published in 1966 and was out of print. Demand from podcast listeners pushed the price of second-hand copies up from a few pounds to over £100. Had the book been available as an ebook or print on demand, the listeners would have been able to buy copies at a sensible price. The publisher and author would have received their usual share of the sale, too. Second-hand sales at hugely inflated prices benefit the seller, but no-one else.

Unexplained demand

Sometimes it won’t be obvious what caused the interest. In 2021, libraries in the Philippines suddenly bought lots of ebook copies of Jen’s children’s book. We couldn’t find out what had caused this burst of sales. But it was available via the libraries’ supplier, so Jen was able to benefit, even without knowing where the interest came from.

This is the less obvious, and rarely discussed, advantage of print on demand and ebooks. If something provokes interest in your book, or with non-fiction, your book’s subject, readers can find and buy your book immediately, and at a sensible price. You get your standard royalty from those sales. Everybody wins.

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