In the mail yesterday, a letter from my non-fiction agent with confirmation that my books The Rough Guide to the Universe and The Rough Guide to Science Fiction Movies were officially out of print, and that the rights to them have reverted to me. While it’s nominally sad to have any book go out of print, I will note that the reason for going out of print was not related to lack of sales (both were selling fine, and The Universe indeed had a second edition), but because Rough Guides has decided to focus on travel books (its original core competency). I think you can try to make an argument that the Universe book, at least, is in some way a travel guide; however, the powers that be at RG appear to disagree. So that’s the end of these books’ lives as Rough Guides.
But is it the end of these books entirely? Well, that’s the nice thing about living in this particular publishing era, isn’t it: It doesn’t have to be. I could try to find a new publisher for the books (they would need new names, at the very least), or I could publish them myself, or I could repurpose the content for other books/projects, or I could just say “screw it” and put them up on my Web site. It’s up to me at this point (and, uh, a publisher wanting to release the book(s) in at least a couple of scenarios). The books aren’t dead; they just have different options now.
These two books being out of print means that all my Rough Guide books are now OOP (the other one, The Rough Guide to Online Finance, has been out of print for years and is never ever coming back). Three books out of print out of twenty, over the course of more than a dozen years, is not a bad percentage, actually.