Why are kdp books ‘currently unavailable’

We’ve published almost 300 books on Amazon’s kdp platform, and more and more regularly we see this on books we’ve just published:

“Currently unavailable”

This is really strange: Amazon uses a print-on-demand (POD) system, which means that when a book is ordered, it is printed and shipped directly from the printing facility. This is a very efficient system, as it allows for books to be printed and shipped quickly and without the need for large print runs.

We think that this is because there are times when the printing facility may experience a backlog or delay in production, (big rushes around Christmas for example) so to prevent this backlog from growing even larger, we think Amazon may temporarily reduce the number of orders for POD books so they can meet

their ‘Prime’ delivery deadlines and avoid disappointing customers.

The issue of books being listed as “currently unavailable” on Amazon is usually a temporary one. Typically, the issue will resolve itself within a day or so as the backlog is cleared and production returns to normal levels. That’s our experience in the UK – the picture is a bit different internationally, with at least one client in Brazil having a delay of weeks on a kdp release.

March 2023 edit:

We continued collecting data after writing the above post, and there are gliches that are not fully explained. For example, the following two books were published within minutes of each other yesterday:

They are identicial sizes and almost identical number of pages. They use the same color of paper. But one is availible to buy and the other isn’t. This suggests that the issue isn’t as simple as “the┬áprint on demand machines are full”.