I was running errands about a week ago when I encountered a fan of my books who told me she'd tried to purchase one of my earlier works and was told by the book store that it was "out of print".
Now, there are fewer phrases that can reach an author's ears that will create more gut-wrenching emotions than hearing their books are "out of print", particularly when nobody told the author and they found out through a third party.
I returned to my office and promptly phoned the book store, who told me that all but two of my books - the last two published - were listed as "out of print". Taking a deep breath, I made another phone call to the editor responsible for distribution.
You see, an author sells their work to a publisher, who sells it to a distributor, who sells it to the wholesaler, who sells it to the warehouses who supply the book stores. Yes, it's convoluted.
Two days later, I learned that the publisher, the distributor and the wholesaler all agreed that none of my books had been taken out of print at any time. They were all available for sale in all venues.
Only two of the largest book chains (which might be about the only book chains still left in America) insisted that my books were out of print.
No one knows where they got this information or why, but the short story is: it will be remedied. It might take another week for things to be ironed out, but they will be. When the books are re-listed in the book stores, they might show them as a "Second Edition" but they will be there.
In the meantime, they have always been available on amazon in both trade paperback and as eBooks. There's something to be said for amazon's steadfastness. And the truth is, the strong sales on amazon were the reason no one seemed to notice along the chain that they were not available in book stores. It's going to be interesting to see what happens when the stores show they're available again!