The great Brazilian author Paul Coelho is a person with a strategic mind. The publisher of his first book titled The Alchemist dropped him in 1999, soon after he discovered that the book was failing to fetch riches. The Alchemist was published in 1988 and at that time, it struggled to sell 1,000 copies. In the first year, it failed to achieve a Best Seller tag. Any book whose minimum 5,000 copies are sold within a territory is considered a bestseller. If the same number of sales is achieved overseas, it is considered an international bestseller.
Lack of sales meant it was time to take a radical step and Coelho considered his options. It was in these circumstances that his obsession for the Internet grew and his act brought about a revolution in the e-book market. On his own website, he pitched down the cost of his book to free availability of the entire book. The book received tremendous response because of his strategic move.
Without any additional promotional cost, the print sales shot up. Within a year, the book managed to sell 10,000 copies, followed by a 100, 000 copies the next year. Since then, The Alchemist has sold more than 11 million copies worldwide and has been translated into some 41 languages. It was his awe-aspiring move that that led to the tremendous success of his book..
“I’m convinced it was putting it up for free on the Internet that made the difference,” he said in an interview at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos.
“It’s very difficult to read a book on your computer. People start printing out their own copies. But if they like the book, after reading 30-40 pages they just go out and buy it,” he further elaborated.
His belief for putting up the books on the Internet is quite against the publisher’s point of view. The publishers feel that the electronic medium will kill the business of printed books since people would find it more convenient to just download a book than go ahead and buy it. This would also mean a huge cut in the profits. But he wants the publishers to adapt to the strategy of Internet marketing as it has helped him greatly in his past.
“I don’t understand why publishers don’t understand that this new medium is not killing books,” Coelho says. “I’m doing it mostly because the joy of a writer is to be read. But at the end of the day, you will sell more books.”
Coelho’s net obsession costs $15000 a month, which he prefers to pay out of his own pocket. He also spends three hours daily on the Internet interacting with his readers who send him about 1,000 e-mails everyday. At present, he is having six full-time staff members who extend their services to manage the net activities.
Coelho, whose fiction explores universal themes of spiritual aspiration and brotherhood in unpretentious language, has been a star of the Forum for 11 years. Apart from his inspirational books, he has inspired millions by his business strategy. As can be seen, e-books have become immensely popular. Many writers go ahead and make their books available online. Not only does this ensure increased popularity for the author, it means easier accessibility to the book as well. By making his book available on the Internet, he was effectively able to garner more readership for his books. His immense popularity stands testimony to the fact this his strategy has indeed been highly successful.