Roy Osherove, author of The Art of Unit Testing, was naturally angry when he discovered pirated copies of his book on RapidShare and some people even had the guts to openly share links to those illegal versions of the book on Twitter.
It took him about three years to write the book which now sells for $40 and Roy makes about $2 for every print copy sold on Amazon. The download version of the same book costs around $25 though royalty earned from the sale of these PDF copies is even less.
Since there’s little you can do to prevent people from downloading your PDF books, Roy is trying a unique experiment – he has put some Rapidshare links on his blog from where people can download the full PDF version of his book without spending a penny. The idea is that this may convince some readers into buying either the printed or digital version of the book once they have read the pirated copy.
Science fiction writer Cory Doctorow is known for giving away PDF copies of all his novels for free (under a Creative Commons License) and this in turn helps in increasing the sale of his printed books.
Twice in my career, ‘blind’ people e-mailed me, requesting a PDF of one of my books. Both times, I sent one over – and both times, it was all over the piracy sites within 48 hours, free for anyone to download. I’ve got a mortgage and three kids to put through college, and it broke my heart! Unfortunately, the bad apples have once again spoiled it for everyone else.
So will Roy’s experiment work? A quick poll on his blog suggests that 39% of the readers will either buy or have already bought a legal version after reading the pirated copy but 20% say they will just keep the pirated version and not buy a legal copy even if they like the book. Don’t think that’s good news for tech authors.