Can You Delete A Book After It Is Published?

I want to delete my book

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.

unpublish a book

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 is available in Kindle Unlimited via KDP Select, readers who have started to read your ebook will be able to finish reading it.

It will also remain on sale for your current ninety-day enrollment period in KDP Select.

You can check the remaining time of your enrollment by clicking KDP Select Info from the hamburger menu.

You will see this warning when you unpublish your Kindle ebook.

unpublish KDP Select

Once you click unpublish, your ebook will be removed at the end of your enrollment period.

 

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, Amazon will not remove it from sale completely.

It will remain listed and available on Amazon as an out of print or mass-market book.

out of print

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.

There is no option to delete an Amazon Author page.

When you unpublish a book, Amazon will remove it 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.

 

Remove your posts from social media

If you delete a book after it is published, don’t forget to delete your posts from Facebook, Twitter, or other platforms you used.

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.

With the Internet, it’s extremely difficult to delete your writing and posts entirely. All you can do is do your best.

 

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.

It’s possible to republish a book with a new title and book cover, and it will be like publishing a completely new book.

Sometimes this is a better option than trying to delete a book. It gives you a second chance to try and succeed with your book.

It will also mean that your new version will replace your unpublished version, so it will not result in a dead link or blank sales page.

The only possible drawback to this option is that if you got a lot of poor book reviews, they will remain on your book’s sales page.

 

Summary

Very few new authors think about how to delete a book from KDP or other platforms when they write and publish a book or ebook.

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 you publish it.

However, if you only published an ebook, removing your book from sale is relatively easy.

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 its Amazon sales page.

All you can do is use the delisting process to remove it from being directly available for sale.

 

Related reading:  Can You Opt Out Of KENP Kindle Unlimited With KDP Select?

Derek Haines

A Cambridge CELTA English teacher and author with a passion for writing and all forms of publishing. My days are spent writing and blogging, as well as testing and taming new technology.

Avatar for Derek Haines

23 thoughts on “Can You Delete A Book After It Is Published?

  • Avatar for Nazmul
    October 14, 2022 at 7:28 pm
    Permalink

    Assalamu Alaykom
    I submitted the log book to my KDP account 3 days ago. The book is live. But there is a problem that 1 word is wrong in the subtitle. How can I correct this mistake, if you tell me a little, I will be especially benefited. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Avatar for Derek Haines
      October 14, 2022 at 7:45 pm
      Permalink

      Simply change the details of your book’s subtitle from your KDP dashboard and republish your book.

      The changes will usually update within 24 hours.

      Reply
  • Avatar for Ben Edwards
    September 15, 2022 at 7:10 pm
    Permalink

    If I self-publish through KDP (accepting the free isbn) and later decide that I would like to unpublish from KDP and publish elsewhere, would I legally be allowed to do that? I understand that the reviews would remain under the free isbn so in that case it would almost be like leaving a record of a past version of the book, but I’m just wondering if Amazon’s isbn keeps me locked in to the extent that I wouldn’t be allowed to publish elsewhere, even if I unpublish my book with KDP. I hope my question makes sense! I am super new to this so it may be a bit uninformed and therefore incomprehensible. :)

    Reply
    • Avatar for Derek Haines
      September 15, 2022 at 7:29 pm
      Permalink

      Yes, you can use a free Amazon ISBN and then publish elsewhere with a different ISBN, Ben.

      But it would be better to start the right way and use one ISBN wherever you publish your book.

      Amazon allows you to use your own ISBN.

      If you have different ISBNs for your book, your sales data and reviews will be split.

      Reply
  • Avatar for Spencer Stern
    August 31, 2022 at 9:50 am
    Permalink

    Thanks for this article, Derek.

    In short, you’ve covered all ways that one can or can’t delete a published book. I haven’t found any hard deletion methods around what you’ve already mentioned although a softer delete option may exist if Amazon allows it…

    Even if one *inadvertently* self published a paperback book perhaps out of anger, frustration, haste or some other negative emotion (without thinking it through properly) at the time they will NEVER be able to remove it from the Amazon website. Always best to keep any compulsive self publishing to Kindle eBooks only as they CAN be removed and the sales page will 404 ‘not found’ error eventually.

    So, my only ‘workaround’ suggestion [which I haven’t tried yet btw] is to update the Primary author of an unpublished book to a pen name which *should* disassociate it, at least from yourself so the page remains on Amazon but not easily linked back to your main author page. Frankly, I don’t know why KDP support is not that helpful in sorting things out for us like this. If this is acceptable to change the primary author to allow the book to continue selling with more privacy protection for the original author if they published something sensitive, raw/unedited, etc. that now groups under a pen name it’ll allow that book/content to remain sellable.

    I guess Amazon assumes every book has value even if published incorrectly or badly (e.g. unedited) as long as it might sell 1 or more copies. Therefore it would be helpful to post-hoc disassociate from a (paperback) book published in haphazardly previous.

    In closing, the main caveat when self-publishing an ISBN assigned *paperback* is to know in advance that it’s going to be ‘out there’ permanently even when it goes out-of-print unlike a non-ISBN kindle eBook so far as a sales page with good/bad reviews is concerned.

    Reply
    • Avatar for Derek Haines
      August 31, 2022 at 10:02 am
      Permalink

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Spencer.

      I’d be interested to know if your workaround of changing the primary author works.

      Reply
      • Avatar for Spencer Stern
        August 31, 2022 at 10:39 pm
        Permalink

        Unfortunately I found out it’s one of the locked details once previously published and as usual Amazon’s kdp support couldn’t or wouldn’t offer a viable alternative way to disassociate with a book published other than to publish anew in the way you want and effectively ignore your old unpublished book as a zombie listing on their site.

        Reply
        • Avatar for Derek Haines
          September 1, 2022 at 8:46 am
          Permalink

          Thanks for the update, Spencer.

          Well, at least it was worth a try.

          Reply
  • Avatar for Ogundiya Tolulope
    June 29, 2022 at 10:33 am
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    i published a book on Amazon but the book was blocked. why is it and what do i do?

    Reply
    • Avatar for Derek Haines
      June 29, 2022 at 10:35 am
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      You have to contact Amazon KDP Help to ask why your book was blocked.

      Reply
  • Avatar for Christine Laud
    April 1, 2022 at 10:20 pm
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    Thank you for providing such valuable information. Do authors benefit from third party’s sale? I am concerned that you can unpublished your work, and third parties can still have access. What can the writing community do to stop this practice?

    Reply
    • Avatar for Derek Haines
      April 2, 2022 at 1:22 pm
      Permalink

      No, authors earn nothing from third-party sales on Amazon. Think of it like how a regular secondhand bookstore sells books. There is no royalty paid in this case, and they also sell out of print books. So in fact, nothing has changed in this respect. Therefore, there is no way to stop the process because it is perfectly legal.

      Reply
  • Avatar for Steve Boyce
    March 7, 2022 at 7:33 pm
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    I have just bought ten ISBN numbers, all I wanted to do was to unpublish my books to add my own ones

    Reply
  • Avatar for Ronald K. Godfrey
    February 10, 2022 at 7:38 am
    Permalink

    I am new with the amazon author center I created a page and added some of my books on it only for me to find that the categories I uploaded my books I can’t find the kindle version in there any more can some one help me out with it ?

    Reply
  • Avatar for June Armstrong
    January 11, 2022 at 1:09 pm
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    Learn How You Can Delete A Book After It Has Been Published.
    Clicked for this headline. Misleading.

    Reply
    • Avatar for Derek Haines
      January 11, 2022 at 1:17 pm
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      I struggle to understand why you find the title or the content of the article misleading.

      Reply
  • Avatar for Barbara Hamilton
    October 9, 2021 at 2:45 am
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    I am an Australian citizen living in Australia and have never lived in the U.S. though visited many times.
    I have unpublished my books from sale with Amazon and Smashwords however, self publishing books through U.S. companies I’ve had to register with IRS. Even though I haven’t had any book sales for several years I’ve had to complete the required IRS form every year. As I’ve withdrawn my books from sale do I still have to submit an IRS form or is there some way I can be removed from the IRS system?

    Reply
    • Avatar for Derek Haines
      October 9, 2021 at 9:14 am
      Permalink

      As far as I understand, Barbara, you can’t unregister from the IRS system. But you can ignore any requests to update your US tax information if publishers ask you to do so and you are not earning any income. Another option might be to try to delete your publishing account.

      Reply
  • Avatar for Jemima Pett
    February 28, 2021 at 10:48 pm
    Permalink

    I unpublished a paperback version of the first three books in my Princelings series. After looking into it, I discovered all the things you said. And then I saw that some people were offering it at a ridiculously inflated price in the third-party sellers area.
    Solution: I have a separate seller account in my own name. I offer ‘secondhand as new’ copies at a price below the sharks. Well, I still have about ten in a box somewhere.
    And I made sure the old version blurb states it has an out-of-date version of the stories.

    Reply
  • Avatar for Derek Haines
    February 27, 2021 at 3:36 pm
    Permalink

    Yes, Leon. It’s your book, so you can do as you wish. But it is frustrating with KDP that changing the paper grade means publishing a new book. It was the same with Createspace. I don’t understand why it is, and surely it’s not a huge technical difficulty for Amazon. But that’s the way it is, unfortunately.

    Reply
  • Avatar for Leon Stevens
    February 27, 2021 at 3:17 pm
    Permalink

    Thanks for the insight. I always found this aspect of KDP frustrating. I unpublished my paperback because I realized that it had the wrong paper color selected. Not a huge deal, but I wanted my book to look right.

    Who reads all the Unpublish information before they publish? So now I have an out-of-print book.

    “You can republish a book with a new title and cover, and it will be like publishing a completely new book.” – Never thought of this. I have the ISBN. It’s mine. I can do what I what with it, right?

    Reply
    • Avatar for Susan Roulusonis Pione
      September 3, 2021 at 7:19 pm
      Permalink

      I published a book and ebook on Amazon with their free ISBNs. I have since purchased my own ISBNs and would like to republish my book through IngramSpark. Can I just delete the print copy from Amazon and leave the ebook? Ideally, I wanted to publish both through IngramSpark, but I don’t want to lose my Amazon reviews. With what you said, if I delete the book and it remains there for 3rd-party sellers, does that mean my reviews will remain?

      I’d also heard that I could co-publish the book at Ingram with my new ISBN; is that true?

      Thank you!

      Reply
      • Avatar for Derek Haines
        September 3, 2021 at 7:32 pm
        Permalink

        I’m certainly not an expert on this topic, Susan.

        However, I believe that if you delete a print book on Amazon, your reviews will remain for 3rd party sellers. It might pay to check with Amazon KDP, though.

        But I’m not sure what you mean by co-publish on IngramSpark, so I can’t comment on this point.

        Reply

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