Why don't publishers reprint when there's a big demand?

Over in another thread, I recommended the book Billion Dollar Baby by Bob Greene to someone asking about Alice Cooper. Then I was going to recommend a used copy from one of my used book sites…and found that paperbacks are going for $75, hard cover for $125–and up!

So my question is: why don’t they print more of these puppies? If the demand is that high, there must be a reasonable print quantity. Mustn’t there?

I felt the same way about Eric (Pratchett), but then they started re-releasing the hard covers in modern editions.

You and your friends are hardly evidence of a big demand, nor are eBay prices. There may only be a dozen people who are looking for the book, so their price on eBay reflects scarcity more than popularity.

Of course, nowadays publishers don’t reprint all that much, anyway. They make more money with new books. It used to be they’d reprint science fiction novels about every seven years, but that never happens any more unless a small press takes them on.

The publishing rights could’ve reverted back to the author, too.

True, but it’s rare to find an author who wouldn’t want his books reprinted. Hell, that’s one thing your agent is trying to do for you.

If there was a demonstrable “big demand,” the title would more than likely be in print. There are exceptions of course, which more often than not have to do with rights issues, but a book’s being in or out of print can usually be taken as an index of the actual demand.