Book Authors See BitTorrent As a Promotional Tool

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Authors are becoming less concerned with piracy, and having pirated copies of their books listed on BitTorrent sites such as The Pirate Bay is even considered to be an honor to some. Particularly for book authors, piracy seems to be a useful promotional tool, rather than a threat.

pirate logoMore and more authors seem to recognize the power of BitTorrent as a means to generate more sales, and actually upload free copies onto BitTorrent themselves.

Best selling author Paulo Coelho posted several of his books on BitTorrent, which boosted his sales significantly. The success of Coelho later inspired Leander Kahney, the author of “The Cult of Mac” and “The Cult of iPod”, to do the same.

A recent discussion on the positives and negatives of piracy confirms changing attitudes towards it. The “behind the scenes” thread on O’Reilly Radar was started by Eric Freeman, who wrote:

“Any thoughts on the rise of Head First titles (mostly HFDP and HTML) on Pirate Bay? I’m trying to just take it as a sign there is strong interest in the books still.”

The consensus among the authors who replied seems to be that having one’s book listed on BitTorrent sites is a good thing, and might actually generate more sales.

Nat Torkington wrote in a reply:

“So long as the royalty checks are strong, take BitTorrent as a sign of success rather than a problem. A wise dog doesn’t let his fleas bother him.”

Phil Torrone of Make magazine added:

“Yup – seeing your books / magazines on Pirate Bay is always a good thing.”

Piracy is less of a threat to book publishers than it is to the music industry though. As Nat Torkington notes, most people still prefer printed copies: “The HF books work really well as books, so at best the torrents act as advertisements for the superior print product.”

For music it’s different, as most people now prefer MP3s. The music that is offered on filesharing networks is superior to the DRMed alternatives that are available through music stores such as iTunes. The only option for the music industry is to adapt to the needs of their customers and start competing with pirates.

In related news, our very own Matt Mason just got his book “The Pirate’s Dilemmaleaked on BitTorrent. Matt announced that an official “free” version will be available for download later, but I’m sure that he doesn’t mind people sharing this pirated copy.

(Via O’Reilly TOC)


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