Out-of-Print (OOP) Books

This is post #15 of #BlogchatterA2Z.

This includes blogging every day in April for 26 days, except on Sundays. What’s special about it is that every day’s post will be corresponding to each letter of the alphabet. 

My theme for 2021 is Bookish TriviaIf you liked this post, don’t forget to “roll” me on Blogchatter’s website!

All my #BlogchatterA2Z posts 2021 can be found here.

The definition of an out-of-print (OOP) book is a bit muddled nowadays because of e-books, book scanning technology, and print-on-demand books

Very simply, an out-of-print book is a book that is no longer being published. It may or may not be republished in the future.

If only traditionally printed books are considered,

an out-of-print book is a book that has had a traditional print run at some point in time and has not been reprinted for at least 5 years. 

The term “out-of-print” can also refer to specific editions of a popular book. Such editions may go in and out of print frequently.

Usually, religious books never go out of print. E.g The Bhagavad Gita, The Bible, The Quran

How do books go out of print?

Source: Unsplash

Again, only traditionally printed books are being considered here.

  • A publisher decides to do a print run of a fixed number of copies of a new book. 
  • The books are ordered in bulk by booksellers.
  • If the copies get sold out, the bookseller orders more.

  • When all the copies printed in the initial print run are sold but there is still demand, the publisher decides to do another print run.

  • If copies of the initial print run remain unsold, the bookseller returns the unsold copies to the publisher. There will not be another print run. 
  • Unsold copies may be remaindered (sold at a greatly lowered price) or pulped.

  • When a bookseller cannot get any more copies of a book from a publisher because they have been sold or are not available, a book is said to be “out of print.”

To build demand, a publisher may allow a book to go out of print for a period of time before reprinting it, usually with a fresh cover design and updated formatting. 

The trend of print-on-demand books, wherein a publisher can print a high-quality book quickly after a customer requests it, has made the term “out-of-print” somewhat obsolete.

There’s also debate over whether e-book versions of print books should be considered when assigning the “out-of-print” label.

Does out-of-print mean out of copyright?

No! Out of print does not mean a book is out of copyright. You cannot copy from out-of-print books.

The copyright holder still retains all the rights to the contents of the book.

  • The author of the book is the only person who holds the copyright. As per The Indian Copyright Act, 1957, as soon as your book is written and published, you have exclusive rights over it.
  • Hence, authors need not get copyright registration for works of fiction right away.

  • When the author hands the manuscript over to the publisher, he/she assigns certain rights but does NOT hand over copyright. More often, the author grants the publisher an exclusive (or non-exclusive) license to exploit the content for profit.
  • Thus, the author retains control of the economic use of his/her book and and receives payment in the form of royalties.

The author retains the following rights even after assigning copyright to the publisher:

  1. Moral right to be named as the creator of the intellectual property
  2. Right to use the same matter in a different book by the same author
  3. Right to withdraw any rights given to a publisher as part of a contract.

Note that copyright is a virtual right that exists because of the law and not a natural right that exists in nature.

For literary, musical, and artistic works, copyright lasts for 60 years, starting from the year of the death of the author.

You can read this handbook of copyright law in India for more details.

How can I find out-of-print books?

Obviously, you cannot find out-of-print books in bookshops. But there are a few ways in which you can find these books:

  • Booksellers specializing in out-of-print books
  • Buying from people who own them (used books)
  • Libraries that stock them
  • Ask the publisher if they still have any copies

Which books have never gone out of print?

Some books that are eternally loved and have never gone out of print are:

  • Emma by Jane Austen
  • Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  • The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
  • Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Review of Self-publishing Platforms

Since I’d mentioned print-on-demand books in this post, I’m sharing a helpful, interesting video about the various self-publishing platforms in India:


  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76LHyv4l21s
  2. https://www.abebooks.com/blog/2012/12/29/the-top-100-most-searched-for-out-of-print-books
  3. https://publishingperspectives.com/2015/02/searched-print-books/
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Out-of-print_book
  5. https://simplycharlottemason.com/scmforum/topic/copyright-and-out-of-print-books/
  6. http://www.allaboutbookpublishing.com/2118/understanding-copyright-in-an-indian-context/
  7. https://www.wipo.int/edocs/pubdocs/en/copyright/868/wipo_pub_868.pdf
  8. https://www.zorbabooks.com/copyright-isbn-book-publish/

Pin This:

Out-of-print books pin

7 responses to “Out-of-Print (OOP) Books”

  1. Thank you for reading, Sadvika! I’m happy you found it useful.

  2. good information on the copy rights, i dint know this

    1. Thank you for reading, Sadvika! I’m happy you found it useful.

  3. So many things you cleared in the post specially about copyright. I like the details that you add to your posts
    Deepika Sharma

  4. Yes, some out of print books are hard to find. Maybe if someone has a copy and is willing to sell it. Thank you for reading!

  5. There are books that you can’t find in bookstores or online. Hope they come out with e book formats. Very useful and interesting nuggets of information through your theme.

    1. Yes, some out of print books are hard to find. Maybe if someone has a copy and is willing to sell it. Thank you for reading!

  6. Glad to know that going out of print does not mean forfeiting the copyright too.

  7. interesting fact about copyright and out of print books, didn’t know that the author retains the copyright

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.