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

by | Permalink | Comments (6) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (6)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • 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

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.