Books: Does piracy now = marketing?

Torrentfreak has the fascinating tale of an author — Brazilian-born “magical realist” novelist Paulo Coelho — who has been busily “pirating” his own books, including setting up a dedicated website to point potential readers to BitTorrented copies of his various novels. Coelho says in a video at the Digital, Life and Design conference in Munich (which I’ve embedded below) that when he uploaded Russian versions of his books to P2P networks, his sales started to skyrocket in Russia.

As Mike notes at Techdirt, this is more evidence that peer-to-peer networks and other methods of “piracy” can actually be used as alternative marketing and distribution methods. Coelho isn’t the only one experimenting with P2P networks and giving away his books — Techdirt has also written about other authors that have done the same thing, including Charles Sheehan-Miles, who notes that obscurity is much worse than piracy.

Mike also mentioned in a comment on my earlier music-related post that author David Levine, an economics professor and an expert in game theory and intellectual property, has put his new book Against Intellectual Monopoly up in PDF format on his website for anyone to download. Prof. Levine looks at why copyright, patents and other mechanisms for protecting intellectual property don’t actually do what they claim, and in fact have a largely negative effect on society in general.


11 thoughts on “Books: Does piracy now = marketing?

  1. So let me see if I get this straight…p2p is responsible for album sales declining last year but responsible for skyrocketing book sales. But somehow this is evidence that p2p is an effective marketing tool for both. That makes perfect sense. Oh no, I'm picking on you again, better call a bunch of twitter people to protect you 🙂

    No, no…I kid…I'm just messin' with you

    But seriously, in the case of a book the physical copy is vastly superior to the digital version (sorry Kindle). So digital distribution is an effective marketing tool for books. That isn't true of music which sounds the same on an iPod no matter what.

    I'm not saying it isn't true of music too, I don't think it is but my point is just to point out that they are different concepts and what is true for one isn't necessarily true for the other.

    • Nice to hear from you again so soon, Tom. And you'll notice that no one
      responded to my Twitter call 🙂

      First of all, who said that p2p was responsible for album sales declining? I
      never said it was, and I certainly don't think it's the only factor. —
      perhaps not even the major factor. Legal music downloads, of which there
      have been a few hundred million or so this year, likely have a lot to do
      with it as well.

      In any case, you're quite right that books differ from music, in part
      because people still want the physical product. But I fail to see why p2p
      can't be considered marketing in either case — in the case of the music
      industry it's just marketing for something different, such as a concert tour
      or a T-shirt or a special boxed set of discs. Same concept.

  2. I've heard of this to some extent, but thanks for clarifying. I do know some people are putting links and other promotional material in ebooks, then giving them away for free. If the ebook gets passed around, it becomes a free viral marketing strategy for whatever they are promoting inside. Some also say that because Google likes .pdfs, they get a ton of backlinks if the ebook is distributed and posted around on the net (because they put a link to their site in the .pdf and Google reads .pdfs).

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  6. piracy is a big concern on the net. content owners are finding it hard to protect their content from thieves. however, its one good thing that google came out wit duplicate content penaly and sites copying other site's content will not go very far anymore

  7. i am a14 year old girl and i was wondering if anyone knew of any good books i could rent at the library today. i uasually rent nonfiction beauty books and meg cabot books but i rented them all already

  8. i am a14 year old girl and i was wondering if anyone knew of any good books i could rent at the library today. i uasually rent nonfiction beauty books and meg cabot books but i rented them all already

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