April 28, 2008
Paulo Coelho, arguably the most famous living Brazilian fiction writer, has responded to the growth of file sharing and digital reproduction of copyrighted works in an unusual way.
As described in this JB Online story (pt-BR), Coelho – whose books have been translated into several dozen languages and have sold over 10 million copies worldwide – quietly started an anonymous blog (http://piratecoelho.wordpress.com) that maintained accurate links to versions of his texts available online. Many of the online copies were unauthorized, but Coelho managed to convince his publishers that his activities would not reduce sales. As he details in the following long quote (my translation), the result was quite the opposite of what conventional culture industry thinking about ¨intellectual property¨ suggests:
(Interviewer) – Why create a site to direct internet users to locations where they could download your books for free?
(Coelho) – I believe that offering free books online stimulates sales in the ¨real¨ world. I had an experience in Russia in the late 90´s that was eye-opening in this regard. We were havng difficulties with sales there and the explanation always came back that distribution was very difficult in that part of the world. In 1996, we had only sold one thousand books. At the end of 1997, a translation of Brida appeared on some peer-2-peer sites and sales began to take off. In 1998, we sold ten thousand copies. In 1999, one hundred thousand. In 2000, the number grew to over one million copies! It wasn´t a coincidence: the Internet enabled the word of mouth to take effect and to spread; as a result, readers began to exert pressure in bookstores, which, on their own, then began to order more copies…
(h/t Marcelo D’Elia Branco)