How to Unpublish a Book on Amazon: 5 Reasons to Consider First

POSTED ON May 10, 2024

Shannon Clark

Written by Shannon Clark

Home > Blog > Publishing > How to Unpublish a Book on Amazon: 5 Reasons to Consider First

Are you wondering how to unpublish a book on Amazon? Have you hit a plateau in sales, found errors in your manuscript, or decided to add more material to your book?

There are several reasons for unpublishing a book on Amazon, but all aren't good reasons.

Before unpublishing your book, carefully consider the whys you want to unpublish, weigh the pros and cons, and then make an informed decision based on the best possible outcome.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the reasons you might consider unpublishing a book on Amazon, when the reasons make sense strategically; and, how to unpublish a book and republish it on Amazon if you choose. 

There are several reasons why you might consider unpublishing a book you’ve listed on the Amazon mega retail platform. Any of the following reasons might do:

  1. Your book is no longer relevant.
  2. You are no longer writing in a specific genre and would like to disassociate yourself from previous works.
  3. Your previous work needs to be updated.
  4. The book is controversial
  5. Disappointing book sales

To clarify, in this article, we are acknowledging that sometimes unpublishing your book is necessary, but the focus of this article is to determine whether unpublishing your book should be a temporary solution or a permanent one. 

Let's take a closer look at the possible reasons for unpublishing your book on Amazon.

Reasons to Unpublish

1. Your book is no longer relevant

How do you define “relevant”?

  • Was it written a decade ago making your references to technology obsolete? If the outdated references can be updated to make the content of the book current, then update. If the book cannot be made relevant, consider unpublishing permanently.
  • Is the focus of the book no longer considered mainstream? Ideas come and go and audiences can be fickle, but that doesn’t mean that a book won’t be relevant again sometime in the future. Consider the book description for Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut in 1952:

“[T]he chilling tale of engineer Paul Proteus, who must find a way to live in a world dominated by a supercomputer and run completely by machines. 

How To Unpublish A Book On Amazon - Player Piano Book Cover. Author - Jurt Vonnegut

In the age of machine learning and AI mania, this book that’s over seven decades old couldn’t be more relevant. So, when it comes to relevance, remember that what’s not relevant today could become relevant again in the future. 

2. You are no longer writing certain content

  • Unpublishing because you’ve changed directions as an author can be tricky. In this case, let your conscience be your guide. In other words, if what you’re writing today contradicts your previous works, then unpublishing permanently is a good idea. You don’t want your audience to be confused. When it comes to your author brand, consistency is critical. 
  • On the other hand, if you’ve shifted from writing epic poetry to apocalyptic science fiction, then permanently removing your poetry books doesn’t have to be a thing. If you are a career author, your writing will likely evolve over time, which sometimes means expanding into other types of writing. There’s no need to permanently remove previous works just because your writing preferences have changed. 

3. Your previous work needs to be updated

If your book needs some simple updates (e.g. a few typos need to be fixed), it goes without saying that replacing it with a new book is not necessary; however, if your book needs more extensive changes like a new chapter, then a revised edition of the book with a new ISBN or AISN would be recommended. 

4. The book is controversial

The truth is that everyone is not going to like what you write and that’s okay, but sometimes an audience’s reaction might be more than you bargained for. In this case, unpublishing the book permanently might be the best way to reduce tensions and save your sanity. 

5. Disappointing book sales

Poor book sales don’t necessarily mean that your book is not good. It could just be a matter of timing, exposure, or other factors. On the other hand, if your book has a lot of bad reviews which can damage your author reputation, consider pulling the book and deciding how you want to proceed. This could mean rewriting the book or starting over. 

The steps to unpublish a book on Amazon

If you are going to temporarily unpublish your book to make some updates and then republish, these are the steps to take:

Step 1 Log in to your Amazon KDP account: https://kdp.amazon.com

Step 2 Click “Bookshelf” in the top navigation bar

Step 3 Find the book that you want to unpublish

Step 4 Click on the ellipses (…) next to “Order author copies”

Step 5 Click “unpublish.”

The steps to republish a book on Amazon

Amazon considers a republished book a “new” book. This means a new ISBN or AISN number and all of the other expectations that go along with uploading a new book to Amazon. 

Republishing a book on Amazon is the same process as uploading a new book. This means you’ll start the process from the beginning once you sign into your KDP account and upload your republished book to your bookshelf. 

Tips on what to do after you republish

If you republish a book on Amazon, treat it like a new book:

  • Book marketing – All books can benefit from a strong book marketing strategy, including newly revised editions. An updated edition is an opportunity to reconsider how you want to market to your audience. Is there anything that you can improve this time around? Do you have better insight into your audience? Use all of these answers to help you streamline your marketing efforts and make them more impactful. 
  • New ads – When relaunching a revised edition of your book, revamping your ads is a good idea.
  • Author site update – update your website to let visitors and email subscribers know that an updated version of the book is available.
  • Relaunch – Just because a version of your book has already been on the market doesn’t mean that a relaunch isn’t in order. Add updated marketing copy for your book that highlights the new changes showing why previous buyers would benefit from purchasing it again and what new buyers will gain from buying the updated version. 

FAQs

  1. Can you republish a book that has already been published? Yes, this is called a revised edition. Follow the instructions listed in the “The Steps to Republish a Book on Amazon” for uploading a revised version.
  2. Can you republish a KDP book? Yes, you can republish a digital version of your book.
  3. Do you need a new ISBN number if you republish your book? Yes, when you make significant updates to your book and republish it, Amazon considers it a “new” book. 
  4. How do I update a published book on Amazon?

If you only have minor changes to your book like the metadata, a cover update, or tweaks to the manuscript, you can do this from your KDP dashboard. Just log in to your KDP account. Click on “Bookshelf” in the top navigation bar, then click on the ellipses next to the book you want to update. In the drop-down menu, select, “Edit book details.” Navigate to the information that you want to change and then click “Save.”

Some things to remember

  • Unpublishing your book does not remove it from your author page. It will still show up but not be available for purchase. 
  • If your book is in the KDP Select program, even if you unpublish it, you are still required to wait the allotted period under the KDP agreement before selling outside of the Amazon KDP platform. 
  • If you republish, you’ll possibly lose the customer review attached to your book. To avoid this you’ll have to go to the Amazon Support Page and request that the reviews be reattached to the revised version. On this page, click “Amazon Store and Product details page” and “Link your print and ebook editions.)

Bottom Line

If you are dealing with serious book issues like relevancy, poor reviews, or outdated content, then learning how to unpublish a book on Amazon might save you a lot of heartache. Unpublishing your book temporarily to make revisions or permanently to stop selling it shouldn’t be taken lightly. 

Before taking a permanent route, consider if the book can be rewritten and republished for a better reader experience, and if you do decide to republish, treat the process like you would a new book release: marketing, relaunches, website, and social media updates. 

If you do decide to stop selling your book on Amazon, that’s okay, too. You’re the author. This is your business, and sometimes you have to make difficult choices. 

Are you ready to learn more?


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