Monday, 23 April 2012

World Book Night And Piracy

By Richard Jay Parker

Tonight sees a substantial celebration of the written word which is being held in the UK,  Ireland, Germany and the USA.  The 23rd was chosen mainly because it's the birth and death day of Shakespeare.

The main event involves a massive give away of books written by authors who have waived their royalties.  The idea is to remind people about the joy of reading and introduce others to its pleasure.  Whatever your opinion of its effectiveness, it's a well-intentioned promotion and the books involved in last year's give away have all enjoyed a boost in sales.

At the same time a publisher, Wiley, is suing a peer-to-peer file-sharing site for making their 'For Dummies' titles available.  It's estimated that its users have downloaded the books 74000 times for free.

It's a lot of lost revenue for Wiley but it's a massively popular series and one wonders how many of their sales have been amplified by word of mouth engendered by the free downloads.

As I've said in previous blogs - it's impossible to gauge word of mouth but in a new world where readers expect some of their content to be free of charge it's another headache for publishers to get to grips with.  How much giving away leads to increased sales?  It worked for Stieg Larsson's publisher and World Book Night seems to be another example of how this can work for other authors.

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