Multimillion-selling author links with Pirate Bay, saying 'the more people "pirate" a book, the better'
Bestselling Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho is joining in with a new promotion on the notorious file-sharing site the Pirate Bay, and calling on "pirates of the world" to "unite and pirate everything I've ever written".
Coelho has long been a supporter of illegal downloads of his writing, ever since a pirated Russian edition of The Alchemist was posted online in 1999 and, far from damaging sales in the country, sent them soaring to a million copies by 2002 and more than 12m today. His latest move goes a step further, however, joining in with a new programme on The Pirate Bay and exhorting readers to download all his work for free.
Signing off as "The Pirate Coelho", the author told readers on his blog about "a new and interesting system to promote the arts" on The Pirate Bay. "Do you have a band? Are you an aspiring movie producer? A comedian? A cartoon artist? They will replace the front page logo with a link to your work," wrote Coelho. "As soon as I learned about it, I decided to participate. Several of my books are there, and … the physical sales of my books are growing since my readers post them in P2P sites."
"Welcome," said Coelho, "to download my books for free and, if you enjoy them, buy a hard copy – the way we have to tell to the industry that greed leads to nowhere."
From his debut The Alchemist, a fable of a young Andalucian shepherd boy, to his most recent book Aleph, which describes "a remarkable and transformative journey of self- discovery", Coelho's spiritual writing has sold 300m copies around the world. The author has said in the past that "you can add another 20% for pirated editions".
His link-up with The Pirate Bay was widely praised by readers, who described him as a visionary ("maybe I won't buy a book from you right now (because I already have like 5), but I will tell every person I know about this"), a "role model for all of mankind" and a hero. "Ahoy Mr. Coelho, You sir are right, by downloading your books I was determined to buy the hard copy! If I wasn't a pirate I never would read your books! I consider it a preview, if you like it, buy it!" said one reader.
Last month Coelho laid out his opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act, calling it a "REAL DANGER, not only for Americans, but for all of us, as the law – if approved – will affect the whole planet".
Although Coelho admitted that as an author he should be defending intellectual property, he went on to call on the "pirates of the world" to "unite and pirate everything" he has ever written.
"The good old days, when each idea had an owner, are gone forever. First, because all anyone ever does is recycle the same four themes: a love story between two people, a love triangle, the struggle for power, and the story of a journey. Second, because all writers want what they write to be read, whether in a newspaper, blog, pamphlet, or on a wall," he said. "The more often we hear a song on the radio, the keener we are to buy the CD. It's the same with literature. The more people 'pirate' a book, the better. If they like the beginning, they'll buy the whole book the next day, because there's nothing more tiring than reading long screeds of text on a computer screen."