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I recently came across this promising book and while I did find several online shops who sell it as "paperback", I was unable to find an ebook version of it. Even though the website clearly sells ebooks as well as paper books.

The only exception was for Amazon.

Example of a bookstore selling the paper version but not the ebook: Barnes and Noble

So, why is that? Why don't bookstores always sell the ebook version of a story when they sell the (recently published) paper version of it?

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In order for an author to participate in KDP Select, the book must be offered in electronic format only on Amazon, though it can be offered in other forms in other venues.

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The reason for some newly-published books being available on paper but not digitally is that the author can refuse to publish it as an e-book. For example, when Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was published in 2005, J. K. Rowling was refusing e-book versions for the Harry Potter books:

J.K. Rowling has not permitted any of the six Potter books to be released in electronic form, not even during the peak of the e-book craze a few years ago. Neil Blair, a lawyer with Rowling's literary agency, would only say that "this has not been an area that we have sought to license" and did not comment directly on whether pirated e-books, a common phenomena for Potter titles, were hurting sales.
("J.K. Rowling refuses e-books for Potter", USA Today, 14 June 2005)

The article also mentions that "books by (...) many other popular children's authors, including Lemony Snicket, Cornelia Funke and R.L. Stine" are (or were, possibly) not available digitally. The article briefly discusses the reasons for this:

Several reasons are cited, from authors preferring books on paper to concerns over digital piracy to competition from television and other media. But the greatest problem is the lack of a popular reading device, a handicap that has held back the whole e-book business from the start.

The article is 15 years old by now and e-book readers have become much more widely available. However, this does not change the fact that authors can refuse to have their books published in digital format.

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  • Thanks for the explanation. Though, in this specific case, I do wonder why I was able to find an ebook version on Amazon but not on Barnes and Noble (or any other bookstore I visited).
    – Ælis
    Apr 29 '20 at 15:32
  • @Ælis I suspect that the reason is specific to Amazon but I can't find evidence for that at the moment.
    – Tsundoku
    Apr 29 '20 at 15:35

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