The bestselling author of the Alchemist, Paulo Coelho does not have a problem with book piracy. Instead he condones it and participates in the practice of uploading his own titles to the Pirate Bay.
Recently Paulo became aware of a teenager in India selling pirates copies of his books. The young man would download e-books from the internet in PDF format and take it to his local photocopying store to have it printed. Afterwards he would sell them for $5 to $10 each to tourists. Most people would be pissed, including the publisher. Paulo was diplomatic commenting “I know that people call this “pirate” editions. But for me this is an honor, and an honest way for this young man to make money.”
When Paulo Coelho first wrote the Alchemist in 1999 the book was failing in Russia. That year he sold only about 1,000 books, and his Russian publisher dropped him. But after he found another, Coelho took a radical step. On his own Web site, launched in 1996, he posted a digital Russian copy of “The Alchemist. The digital version of the book actually picked up sales immediately. Within a year he sold 10,000 copies; the next year around 100,000. By 2002 he was selling a total of a million copies of multiple titles. Today, Coelho’s sales in Russian are over 10 million and growing.
Paulo now thinks that free leads to more book sales. Since 2006 he has been sharing all of his digital books on popular Bittorrent sites and even directly linking to direct downloads in a section on his personal webpage called The Pirate Coelho.
Do you think its right for people to pirate books, make copies and sell them for a profit, without paying the author? Would you see it as an avenue to sell that reader other books you have written if they like your style of prose?
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.