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BitTorrent as a Book Publicity Tool

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.

Bill Pollock of No Starch Press, publisher of both Cult books, is taking a waiting-and-watching approach to the free dowloads:

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.

(Via TorrentFreak)

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Comments: 6

  1. I recall that some years ago Seth Godin provided a free download of the full text of one of his books before it was published. As far as I am aware, he did not repeat the exercise.

    The problem with pirating one’s own books, as I see it, is that sooner or later you will see 50,000 printed in Ningbo and dumped for a dollar each on domestic markets.

    And when you try to do something about it, a judge will find that having colluded in undermining your own copyright, you are the author of your own misfortune.

  2. So the experiment has started – has there been any followup on the results?

    cheers… -Adam

  3. @Adam: I touched base with Bill Pollock a few weeks ago and he said it’s still too early to gauge the experiment. However, I hope to follow up with him within the next couple months to see where things stand.

    This is absolutely an area that requires follow-up, whether it’s with the “Cult of Mac” example or another publisher.

  4. I think the key is the format in which the self-pirating version is placed. For example, for my novel, Road to Reboot, I placed a Flash version on my site that contained the first chapter. Then made an e-book version (PDF style) elsewhere, or through my email address.

    The downside of placing the entire text on the site is that it is prone to abuse.

  5. @James Joyce : Seth has two series of books: ebooks he gives away and printed books he sells. I think it’s a very good model. I don’t believe in giving your books away. Unlike software given away, ebooks don’t need support, so there’s no incentive to buy them.

    I do give ebooks versions of my books for free to those who buy my print books and bother to write me and ask. Works like a charm, makes the readers happy that they can get something from the author and actually communicate with the author and I see almost no piracy.

  6. I don’t believe that my work should be completely appropriated for free; simply because my landlord won’t let me live rent-free.

    That being said, my publisher and I are offering chapter excerpts of my books anywhere we can get our grubby little uploaded files on!For example: You can read a chapter excerpt of my latest book, HANDLE TiME, at GOODREADS.

    I respect the coin my readers shell out for my words; and I will always give them a free taste of my latest tales; on some website, or the other.