How Paulo Coelho Started Pirating His Own Books (And Where You Can Find them)

Get ready for it. This week, Knopf will release Paulo Coelho’s latest novel, Aleph. And we’re taking bets on three questions. How many copies will be legally sold? (The Alchemist has sold more than 65 million copies.) How many copies will be pirated and given away? And to what extent will the circulation of illegal copies actually benefit legit sales?

In recent years, Coelho has become something of a willing conspirator in the pirating of his own work. Sometimes he links on his own blog to pirated copies floating around the web. Other times he makes the texts available (in multiple languages) in a nice shareable widget.

Coelho explains how his adventures in self-pirating got underway in a Q&A appearing in yesterday’s New York Times.

Q. You’ve also had success distributing your work free. You’re famous for posting pirated version of your books online, a very unorthodox move for an author.

A. I saw the first pirated edition of one of my books, so I said I’m going to post it online. There was a difficult moment in Russia; they didn’t have much paper. I put this first copy online and I sold, in the first year, 10,000 copies there. And in the second year it jumped to 100,000 copies. So I said, “It is working.” Then I started putting other books online, knowing that if people read a little bit and they like it, they are going to buy the book. My sales were growing and growing, and one day I was at a high-tech conference, and I made it public.

Q. Weren’t you afraid of making your publisher angry?

A. I was afraid, of course. But it was too late. When I returned to my place, the first phone call was from my publisher in the U.S. She said, “We have a problem.”

Q. You’re referring to Jane Friedman, who was then the very powerful chief executive of HarperCollins?

A. Yes, Jane. She’s tough. So I got this call from her, and I said, “Jane, what do you want me to do?” So she said, let’s do it officially, deliberately. Thanks to her my life in the U.S. changed.

The rest of the interview continues here. And, in the meantime, you can find several Coelho books catalogued in our collection of Free eBooks.

Related Content:

Paulo Coelho on The Fear of Failure

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Comments (6)
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  • Thank you Paulo… Keep rocking

  • Darren says:

    thank you very much Mr. Paulo Coelho.
    lets not call it piracy if the author would intentionally share his/her work online.


  • Gilberto Allesina says:

    The advantage of downloading Paulo Coelho’s books before buying one is that you’ll save your money and use it for books which quality is worth that price! Luckly when I started reading Alchemist Brazilian original version it was a borrowed book… I stopped in the third page to not offend my brain…

  • Jose costa sobrinho says:

    Congratulations, Paulo Coelho, for your open and comtemporary mind, in a time that cultural goods are shared democratically. The ” maluco beleza” soul still prevails.

  • Rahul says:

    Thank you Paulo Coelho. You are my best writer so let me quote a line from my favorite poet Bhuwan Thapaliya in your honor.

    “Poetry is, to me, the blood that circulates in my veins. It is the very foundation of my survival. Writing poetry is not only a mere hobby for me. It is my way of life. It is not merely a transient desire of my mind. It is the eternal desire of my heart. ” – Bhuwan Thapaliya

    Paulo is, to me, the blood that circulates in my veins. He is the very foundation of my survival. Reading his words is not only a mere hobby for me. It is my way of life.

    I salute you Paulo.

  • payam says:

    u are a big messenger for us.when my people in Iran are very sad through injustice government but Paolo’s words render hope for our Life

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