Coelho thinks that giving people the possibility to swap his books for free, actually has a positive effect on sales. In a keynote speech at the Digital, Life, Design conference in Munich he gave some strikingly good examples. When he uploaded the Russian translation of “The Alchemist”, sales in Russia went from around a 1.000 books per year to 100.000 and then to a million and more (Watch the video here).
What about publishers?
Coelho gives the same Russian example. Apparently, interviewer Kathy Brooks hadn’t heard of this sales boost before and she reacted very surprised. “What about your publisher?”, she asked in amazement. “They come to me and shout: this is not legal”, Coelho said. He then replies he’s just linking and that it’s not his fault. His American publisher wasn’t too pleased though. After a rather imitating call from CEO Jane Friedman, Coelho chose a middle way and made the book viewable – but not downloadable. The torrent links are still up there though. Why? Coelho: “You’ll have to share in order to get some revenue”.
“At the end of the day, it doesn’t hurt your sales. People download the book but don’t read it They wait for the hard copy anyway”, Coelho continued. “Don’t be fooled by the publishers who say that piracy costs authors money.”
How the information overload influences writing
Co-host Loic Le Meur asked how the well-known information overload influences Coelho’s writing. The writer replied that he always had a dream of going to a lodge in the mountains and write the book of his life. So Coelho went to the Pyrenees and wrote his book. The result? The most boring piece of writing he had ever produced.
Coelho: “From now on I live a normal life when I write a book, since I’ve to stay connected to reality”. The Brazilian author builds up creative tension throughout a busy day. After having breakfast, reading newspapers, checking email, lunch and meeting with friends – Coelho finally frees 30 minutes to write: “Then I always wind up writing for five hours. My texts need to be touched by life.”