Something didn’t work out. Now you want to delete a book after it is published.
It can happen for a lot of reasons. You self-published a book on Amazon and got some terrible reviews.
Perhaps you had a change of heart about the subject of your Kindle ebook.
For whatever reason, you want to delete your book and stop any further distribution.
You can’t completely delete a book after it is published
If you want to delete all traces of your book or ebook from Amazon or any other online book retailer, you can’t.
I know that’s not what you want to hear.
All you can do is unpublish and remove it from distribution and sale.
I’m not a fan of Goodreads, but it gives a good explanation as to why you can’t completely delete a book.
Just as a library would not remove a record from its catalog, so do we not remove books from our database.
If you are an author on Amazon KDP, these notes from KDP help explain what happens when you unpublish a book or Kindle ebook.
You can’t delete books that have been published. Also, paperbacks that were assigned an ISBN can’t be deleted.
When you unpublish an eBook from the Kindle Store, it becomes unavailable to buy and unsearchable on Amazon. It won’t be available for purchase until you republish it.
When you unpublish your paperback, customers won’t be able to buy new copies through KDP. Third parties may still sell used copies of your paperback on Amazon.
That means your paperback’s detail page will stay live on the website. However, customers won’t be able to buy new copies through KDP unless you republish your paperback.
If you have self-published a book and now want to delete it, all you can do is unpublish it.
The same applies if you are managing the books of a deceased self-publishing author.
This will remove it from sale and distribution. However, it will not stop possible sales by third parties on mass-market distribution.
Unpublishing an ebook
On most self-publishing platforms, you only need to unpublish your ebook.
On Amazon, click on the hamburger menu next to your book.
Then click Unpublish eBook.
Your Kindle ebook will be filed as a draft in your dashboard. But you cannot delete it.
It is a similar process for Smashwords and Draft2Digital. However, Draft2Digital does have a delete option.
Your ebooks will be removed from sale and distribution, and your ebook detail page will return a page not found result.
However, anyone who bought your ebook or downloaded it for free will still have a copy.
There is no way to remove your ebook from a reader’s device or ebook library.
If your ebook was available in Kindle Unlimited, readers who have started to read your ebook will be able to finish reading it.
Unpublishing a print book
You can use the same process to unpublish your print on demand paperback on Amazon.
Select your title on your KDP dashboard and unpublish the same way as for an ebook.
But unlike an ebook, it will not be removed from sale completely.
It will remain listed and available on Amazon as an out of print or mass-market book.
Copies of your book may remain available through other third-party sellers on Amazon.
It’s similar to selling used books in a secondhand bookstore. It is something you can’t control.
Once you publish a physical book, the ISBN will remain in book databases forever.
There is no way to delete all traces of a book completely.
Your Amazon Author Page
If you have unpublished your book or all your books, you won’t like this.
When you unpublish a book, it will be removed from your Author page. But any other data, details, or images about you as an author will remain.
All you can do is remove as much information as possible with the edit options on your Amazon Author page.
If you unpublish a book, don’t forget to delete your posts from Facebook, Twitter, or any other platforms.
It might be a slow process and time-consuming if you shared a lot of book promotion posts.
But if you want to remove all traces of your ebooks or books on social media, it might be worth the effort.
Republishing a previously published book
Because your removed books go into a draft file, you do have one other option.
You might consider editing, changing, or repackaging your old book.
You can republish a book with a new title and cover, and it will be like publishing a completely new book.
Very few people think about any of this when they write and publish a book.
It’s an exciting time, and all you want to do is get your book or ebook published and available for readers to buy.
But once you are a published author, you will remain a published author forever.
There is no way that you can completely delete a book after it is published.
However, if you only published in ebook, it’s relatively easy to remove your book.
It will not show on any listing or sales pages after you remove it. But your author name will still appear on the Amazon Author Page.
For a paperback, though, it’s impossible to remove your title from book databases and from its Amazon sales page.
All you can do is use the delisting process to remove it from being directly available for sale.