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Alchemist Author Says Giving Away His Books Increases Sales

abstract:This article was first published in 2009. Our reason for re-publishing it is at the very bottom. That plus the ability to see spelling mistakes and grammar that needed corrections! So thanks.
Brazilian author, Paul Coelho of The Alchemist gave a keynote address at the Digital Life Design 08 conference in Munich, Germany (watch the video). Why would a Portuguese author with an entry in the Guinness World Record Book as the most successful living author in book sales worldwide (150M copies sold in 150 countries) be a guest at a digital conference? Because he has embraced the digital era like no other writer. Coelho spoke about his experiences using peer to peer file sharing and social networking, and he gave the three conclusions he has come to as a consequence of this activity. The first was the surprising realization that by giving away his books for free via digital downloads on the internet, his printed book sales have increased remarkably.* This has led him to challenge his publisher's protectionism and claim that current copyright laws are outdated. I will get to the history of copyright laws later. For now, check out Pirate Coelho. The second of his observations is how rapidly world languages are evolving with the common use of internet slang, SMS and so forth to communicate. People use "u" for "you", and "4" for "for" in French, German, Spanish—in all languages, not just English, and Coelho predicts that in 20 years our languages will be very different as a consequence. The third experience is an enriched connectedness to his readers around the world through the internet. This point he finds the most rewarding aspect of all. Coelho is a man who has embraced new technology and recognizes its power to connect people the world over. He has been named "the Googliest author"—a reference to Google's ongoing attempts to digitize the world libraries, which has posed a perceived threat to publishers and adherents to copyright laws. Listen to his story of a party invitation...


November 27, 2018
— Coelho likes to tell the story where he decided to offer the first ten people answering his blog an invitation to his summer party in the countryside of Spain. He received an overwhelming interest but the first 10 people happened to be located from around the globe: Japan, Sweden, Spain, America and so on. He was astounded but also dismayed. Did these people from afar realize that he was not offering any money for airfare, or hotel or transportation? And did they realize that the party was only going to last for 2 hours? Yes, they all responded, and they still wanted to come. And so he sent them the complex directions of how to get to his summer retreat and suggested places to stay, etc. To his delight and amazement, the ten people all came and had a fabulous time. The woman from Japan told him that coming to his party was the first time she had ever left her country. He was astounded. He now has plans for another party to connect to readers. This one will be located in Paris where it is more central and easier for people to come.

I think that Paul Coehlo is a fantastic example of forward-thinking individuals who embrace technology rather than fear it, and whose experience is breaking down the barriers between closed, proprietary thinking and open source thinking. Publishing is on the same forefronts as the music industry as the software industry, and as the communications industry. All of the companies that seek to limit, protect and own are falling by the wayside to the bit torrents and the Skype's of the world.

Where commerce sites or applications in these areas have been successful, it is in restructuring the price scale. People have downloaded over a billion songs from iTunes for 99 cents. People are happy to pay $1.99-5.99 for applications on their iPhone, including digital books, digital media. For more insight into the digital future, log on to the DLD website.

The History of Copyrights

The concept of copyright originates with the Statute of Anne (1710) in Britain. It established the author of a work as the owner of the right to copy that work and the concept of a fixed term for that copyright. It was created as an act "for the encouragement of learning", as it had been noted at the time that publishers were reprinting the works of authors without their consent "to their very great detriment, and too often to the Ruin of them and their Families". As such, copyright was first created with the intention that authors might have some control over the printing of their work and to receive some financial recompense, so that this would encourage them to write more books and thus to aid the flow of ideas and learning. As the act itself says: "for the encouragement of learned men to compose and write useful books".

The Statute of Anne was the first real copyright act and gave the authors rights for a fixed period, a fourteen-year term for all works published the Statute, after which the copyright expired. Copyright has grown from a legal concept regulating copying rights in the publishing of books and maps to one with a significant effect on nearly every modern industry, covering such items as sound recordings, films, photographs, software, and architectural works. Subsequently, the Copyright Clause of the United States Constitution (1787) authorized copyright legislation: "To promote the Progress of Science..., by securing for limited Times to Authors.... the exclusive Right to their... Writings."

Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works

The 1886 Berne Convention first established recognition of copyrights among sovereign nations, rather than merely bilaterally. Under the Berne Convention, copyrights for creative works do not have to be asserted or declared, as they are automatically in force at creation. In these countries, there is no requirement for an author to "register" or "apply for" a copyright, or to mark his or her works with a copyright symbol or other legend. As soon as a work is "fixed", that is, written or recorded on some physical medium, its author is automatically entitled to all copyrights in the work, and to any derivative works unless and until the author explicitly disclaims them, or until the copyright expires. The Berne Convention also resulted in foreign authors being treated equivalently to domestic authors, in any country signed onto the Convention. The UK signed the Berne Convention in 1887 but did not implement large parts of it until 100 years later with the passage of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988. The USA did not sign the Berne Convention until 1989.

Other International Conventions

The United States and most Latin American countries instead entered into the Buenos Aires Convention in 1910, which required a copyright notice (such as "all rights reserved") on the work, and permitted signatory nations to limit the duration of copyrights to shorter and renewable terms. The Universal Copyright Convention was drafted in 1952 as another less demanding alternative to the Berne Convention, and ratified by nations such as the Soviet Union and developing nations.—Wikipedia

His Books

Here is a list of all of Coelho's books. Take a chance which one is available for free download at his site, and then purchase the remaining books you want for your home library.

THE ZAHIR (2005)
MAKTUB (1994)
BRIDA (1990)

Originally from Brazil, Paulo began his career by first joining forces with rock star Raul Seixas, composing 120 song lyrics that revolutionized Brazilian rock music.

In 1986, Paulo walked the Road to Santiago, and reconverted to Christianity, finding, again, the faith bequeathed to him by the Jesuit fathers of his school years. He would later describe this experience in his first book, The Pilgrimage, published in 1987. The following year, his second book, The Alchemist established his worldwide reputation. The novel has already achieved the status of a universally admired modern classic.

Paulo Coelho is an advocate of multiculturalism through his work with UNESCO as a Special Counsellor for Intercultural Dialogues and Spiritual Convergences. Paulo was appointed as United Nations Messenger of Peace in 2007, allowing him to continue to promote intercultural dialogue and to focus on children's needs.

As an interesting side-bar, BookBuffet was just contacted by a company called Course Hero with a free link to their infographics on prominent literary figures' books. It looks like an interesting tool for readers, so I agreed to share it here. The one issue is that an article about freeware is liking to a for-pay site, so take advantage of this access while you can.



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