Free copies of The Cult of Mac and The Cult of iPod are available for download through the popular BitTorrent tracker, The Pirate Bay. Finding book downloads on BitTorrent isn’t unusual, but this situation differs because the books were posted by the author and publisher.
Leander Kahney, author of both books, explains the move on his blog:
We came up with the idea after reading about the amazing success to bestselling author Paulo Coelho, who seeds his own books to file-sharing networks and then promotes them on his blog. Coelho claims great success with “pirating” his own books, saying it has had a slow but dramatic effect on sales.
I’ve been in publishing for just over 20 years and my training has not been to give books away. But I think there’s something to this and logic tells me that if we increase the visibility of our titles, we’ll sell more books.
The definitive connection between downloads and sales is hard to pin down, but O’Reilly’s 2007 case study concluded that free digital copies do not harm book sales.