Piracy — Doing it to yourself

In case you missed it, great article by Julie Bosman of the NY Times about Paul Coehlo. We are reprinting a portion here, but go to the site to read the full interview that goes with. Copyright for this belongs to the NY Times.


Best-Selling Author Gives Away His Work

By  Published: September 26, 2011

A publishing industry that is being transformed by all things digital could learn some things from Paulo Coelho, the 64-year-old Brazilian novelist. Years ago he upended conventional wisdom in the book business by pirating his own work, making it available online in countries where it was not easily found, using the argument that ideas should be disseminated free. More recently he has proved that authors can successfully build their audiences by reaching out to readers directly through social media. He ignites conversations about his work by discussing it with his fans while he is writing.

Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Paulo Coelho.

That philosophy has helped him sell tens of millions of books, most prominently “The Alchemist,” an allegorical novel that has been on the New York Times best-seller list for 194 weeks and is still a regular fixture in paperback on the front tables of bookstores.

This week Mr. Coelho releases his latest novel, “Aleph,” a book that tells the story of his own epiphany while on a pilgrimage through Asia in 2006 on the Trans-Siberian Railway. (Aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, with many mystical meanings.) While Mr. Coelho spent four years gathering material for the book, he wrote it in only three weeks.

Spreading the word about the book should be easy; he has become a sort of Twitter mystic, writing messages in English and his native Portuguese and building a following of 2.4 million people. (A recent example: “When your legs are tired, walk with your heart.”) In 2010 Forbes named him the second-most-influential celebrity on Twitter, behind only Justin Bieber.

Mr. Coelho continues to give his work away free by linking to Web sites that have posted his books, asking only that if readers like the book, they buy a copy, “so we can tell to the industry that sharing contents is not life threatening to the book business,” as he wrote in one post.

From his home in Geneva, Mr. Coelho spoke about his new book, his feeling of connection to Jorge Luis Borges and his leisure time spent networking with his fans on Facebook and Twitter. Following are edited excerpts.

Published in: on September 28, 2011 at 9:55 AM  Leave a Comment  
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