Find out-of-print books

An out-of-print book is a book that is no longer being published. AbeBooks offers millions of out-of-print books for sale thanks to its worldwide network of used booksellers. Most books written since the invention of the Gutenberg Press are out-of-print. However, copies of out-of-print titles can still be purchased thanks to used bookstores which specialize in used books and out-of-print titles. The most famous out-of-print book of modern times is Madonna's Sex book, which remains in demand but the pop star refuses to republish it.

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Examples of out-of-print books

By Cameron Crowe
Cameron Crowe's 1981 coming-of-age book became a film in 1982 starring Sean Penn and Jennifer Jason Leigh. This out-of-print book is sought-after and often has three-figure price-tags.
By John D. Green
This out-of-print photography book was published in 1967 and features the girls of the Swinging Sixties - Sandie Shaw, Dusty Springfield, Jane Asher, and Julie Christie. It's very Austin Powers.
By Nora Roberts
Described by some as the worst thing Nora Roberts ever wrote, Promise me Tomorrow will probably stay out-of-print for eternity. Roberts has gone on record to say she will never allow it to be republished.
By Roald Dahl
First published in 1943 and last published in 2006, The Gremlins is the story of Gus, a British World War II fighter pilot, who sees a little man drilling a hole in his plane's wing during the Battle of Britain. Dahl's debut book.
By Stephen E Whitfield
The complete history of the original Star Trek TV series, from conception, design and scripting to how the finished product was produced and sold. Filled with quotations from the cast, and memos to and from Gene Roddenberry.
By Richard Rutt
Books about crafts - such as knitting, sewing and crochet - are very popular but it's common for them to only be printed in a single edition.
By Jonathan Lethem
It's hard to believe this is out-of-print. Lethem's debut novel from 1994 mixes sci-fi and detective fiction. Animals are part of society and police monitor karma.
By Brian Shul
In 1966, the SR-71, nicknamed the Sled, was the fastest, highest flying jet aircraft in the world. Brian Shul flew it.
By Sue Grafton
Sue Grafton's second novel. Not published since 1973 when there was a movie adaptation with Robert Ryan. This out-of-print book is collectible and commands high prices.
By Ricky Jay
A parody of self-defense books. Ricky Jay, magician and book collector, died in 2018 but he still has a cult following. This book describes tricks and methods of throwing playing cards.
The 'Google' has existed since 1913 when an English banker wrote and illustrated this beautiful but surreal children's book of verse about colorful creatures in a fantastical land. Learn more about this out-of-print book.

Featured out-of-print books

It's a slim paperback and forgotten by most. But I Seem to be a Verb by R. Buckminster Fuller is a cult out-of-print book for many reasons, not least because its content appears to resemble what the modern Internet has become.
It could be argued American art came of age in 1939 when Simon and Schuster published a book called A Treasury of American Prints. This out-of-print book contains 100 etchings and lithographs from numerous great artists.
Ghosts Along the Mississippi is unlike any other photography book. Clarence John Laughlin's out-of-print classic is a prime example of 'Louisiana Gothic' and ghostly in so many ways.

Tips for finding out-of-print books

Check you have the correct author and title – it’s easy to make a mistake when looking for an old book. Watch out for common variations like McDonald/MacDonald or color/colour.

If the author’s name includes initials, just search by using their last name.

Books published since 1970 have ISBN numbers – you can search by ISBN on AbeBooks but a work can be published with multiple different ISBNs over the years so you may wish to do an author/title search.

Be prepared to order from overseas – copies may be plentiful in another country.

For older titles that are out of copyright, consider a print-on-demand edition where the book is created after your order is received and you are sent a brand new copy.

Why do books go out-of-print?

Books usually go out-of-print because they are no longer popular and sales have decreased. It's often a financial decision by the publisher.

Some books become dated and publishers decide to stop printing new copies. Travel guides, atlases, history books, and books about technology are particularly prone to this situation.

There can be disputes between the author and publisher, or the author can decide that a particular work should be not be reprinted - perhaps it's not their best writing or contains content they are no longer comfortable with.

Can books come back into print?

Books do come back into print. Publishers will take this action when they think there is sufficient demand for a new edition. First published in 1965, Vincent and Mary Price's A Treasury of Great Recipes was out-of-print for decades before finally being republished in 2015.

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