Perhaps The Sequel Can Be 'Don't F**king Worry About Piracy'

from the just-a-suggestion dept

As I’m still a relatively new parent, way too many people have forwarded me copies or links to the PDF of the suddenly viral “children’s” book Go the F**k to Sleep in the last few weeks. If you haven’t seen it yet (and you’re a parent), it’s worth checking out, as it’ll probably give you a chuckle for putting into words what you’ve thought many times, delightfully packaged in a near-perfect replica of so many children’s books. Honestly, upon seeing it, I went searching to see where I could buy a physical copy (which, don’t worry, I’ll keep far away from the actual stack of baby books), and was disappointed to see that it wasn’t coming out until the fall.

Except… the viral nature of the whole thing has turned a silly faux-children’s book, with absolutely no marketing behind it, and which hasn’t been released yet, into a bestseller:
Because of all of this attention, the publisher, Akashic, has moved up the publication date to June, and has planned a much bigger print run. It also resulted in the movie rights (yes, the movie rights) already being sold. And it’s all because of what could technically be called piracy.

And here’s the really ridiculous part. Despite all of this, Akashic appears to believe that it’s still in its best interests to go after those hosting copies of the PDF or graphics, and have them take it down.

And Akashic [has] been doing what they can to control distribution of the document by asking people to take down any posted PDFs. This may not be much. “As the publisher of this book, our responsibility is to tackle instances of piracy when we become aware of them,” Ahmad said, “That’s just doing a service to our authors, ourselves, book sellers, distributors, to everyone involved in the successful making and promotion of a book.”

But, um, how is that “a service” to the author or the publisher? There appears to be a ton of evidence that the very lack of their ability to stop that is a huge part of the reason why the book is a massive success story. It seems like yet another case where people focus on the “but we must stop piracy!” without considering what that means for the bottom line.

Plenty of authors (and musicians and filmmakers) have already made this leap into recognizing that just because it’s available for free, doesn’t mean you can’t make a ton of money with it. It just seems weird that Akashic seems to recognize the value it got from all this “piracy” on one hand, while at the very same time, talking about how it needs to stop it “as a service” to itself and its authors.

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Comments on “Perhaps The Sequel Can Be 'Don't F**king Worry About Piracy'”

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51 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Wait, so what’s the ton of evidence that the PDF hosting is contributing to the sales?

I’ve received a ton of links, etc. for this book as well, but I don’t think I saw any with PDFs hosted, as opposed to what appeared to be approved excerpts.

What’s the basis for equating the viral success with the PDF hosting?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Um, simply repeating the conclusion that “the pdf has increased the demand” isn’t the same as supporting that conclusion.

As I stated, I saw links to articles about the book that included excerpts and showed the cover, but did not host any PDFs. That is how I saw it.

Where is the “ton of evidence” that the unauthorized PDF hosting is driving demand as opposed to the authorized excerpts?

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Well, if the article is correct, the “authorized excerpts” were illegal too; and if piracy didn’t help, it sure as hell didn’t hurt.

“Akashic appears to believe that it’s still in its best interests to go after those hosting copies of the PDF or graphics

If they could push the release date up and increase the run, why were they waiting until fall?

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“Wait, which part of the article suggests authorized excerpts were illegal?”

The one I quoted (The “or graphics” part in case you missed it)

“Of course, I don’t think assuming every bit of the article is 100% accurate is a good move.”

I don’t assume shit, hence the “if” part of my sentence.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“”The copies have been proliferating since this craziness started,” said Ibrahim Ahmad, senior editor at the Brooklyn-based press, “With a PDF, you can make so many duplicates and people have just been forwarding it.”

Also:

“This volume had a few key properties that enabled its electronic popularity: an undeniable title, a good-looking cover and a short length, making it easy to read, post and pass on. Also, the long lag time between the book’s pre-sale (it was originally scheduled to go on sale in October) and the buzz made online sharing necessary.”

Hell, the main reason it went viral is because people spread it. There was NO advertising for it.

“One benefit of the illegal action seems clear. “Up until this week,” Ahmad said, “we have done nothing to promote this book.””

So all signs point to piracy and the pdf, with its availability, allowing people to talk and discuss the book, deciding if they want to buy it when it comes out.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

You seem to be equating all viral sharing with sharing of PDFs, which I don’t think is supportable. There has been plenty of sharing links to articles about the book.

I don’t think the notion that nobody would share links to articles about the book if there were no PDF is supportable either.

At any rate, it’s certainly not a “ton of evidence.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Um…what articles? They said they had done nothing to promote the book.

Granted, “nothing” may be a hyperbole. But if they hadn’t done in promotion, that means no articles (reviews are a major part of promotion).

If there were articles written without any pre-review copies sent to anyone, that means the reviewers read the pirated copies.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Okay… Work with me here…

People saw the content. They saw the pdfs and bought those. People being people, someone said “you gotta read this”. Then, they sent the pdf to someone else. So it went viral from that. It was funny and out of 100 people, let’s say 10 want the book. And some people, knowing more than one person, may have linked to the Amazon page, where people decided to buy the pdf for themselves. I would venture to guess that people want to see this first, then decided to buy.

Personally, I heard a snippet of this on the radio, when a DJ was talking about the stories he read after he puts his kid to sleep. So if you’ll excuse me, now that I know the title…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

I’m not sure what you’re asking me.

Let’s say their is “content” A and “content” B. A is the description, cover page, and excerpt that, apparently, was distributed by the publisher. B is the entire book as a PDF file.

From what I’ve seen, there was viral publicity based on A. So where is the evidence that B contributed any more publicity than that generated (or that which would have been generated) by A alone?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Another excellent reason to add a Moron button next to Insightful.

“Where is the “ton of evidence” that the unauthorized PDF hosting is driving demand as opposed to the authorized excerpts?”

Yeah it happens ALL the time genius. We often see books with absolutely no marketing jump to the top of the Amazon bestseller list. It couldn’t possibly be all those eyes on the PDFs who actually liked it so much that they want a physical copy. No that couldn’t possibly be it. It just magically happened.

Excepts and cover shots with no marketing behind them have often produced bestselling results. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid. (Do I need a (R) or TM with that?)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“The part where it had no marketing, and yet an explosion of interest and endorsements.”

As I clearly stated, there were articles and links to articles about this book that went viral without any PDF hosting. For example, I think Wire or BoingBoing or something had an article/post about it that didn’t host any PDF without authorization. Rather, it had excerpts of the book and an image of the cover, without any further hosting of PDF pages or anything.

I have no idea whether the unauthorized PDF hosting/distribution has had any effect, positive or negative, on book sales in comparision to a hypothetical world in which only the approved excerpts of the book were distributed. However, I can attest that I received numerous links to this book from friends that did not have anything to do with PDF hosting.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

As I clearly stated, there were articles and links to articles about this book that went viral without any PDF hosting. For example, I think Wire or BoingBoing or something had an article/post about it…

Again, the has been “no marketing” for this book. So where, exactly, do you suppose the BoingBoing submitter got ahold of the book to review it? They quoted a passage from the book, so clearly they have seen more than just the cover. Use your head McFly!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

But that approved, publisher-sourced description, excerpt, and cover page did go viral (that’s what I got links to from numerous sources).

So I’m wondering where the evidence is that the source of viral success was the unapproved PDF distribution?

It seems plausible to me that it would have reached a similar viral success without the PDF distribution, based on what was put out by the publisher/author.

ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

So I’m wondering where the evidence is that the source of viral success was the unapproved PDF distribution?

The numerous stories that point to the unapproved PDF distribution. Sure, not many admit to reading it themselves, but they almost all mention the fact. You apparently think that there’s no reason for that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

So, if there are numerous stories that point to piracy as the reason record companies are hurting financially, you would just accept that as a true cause and effect conclusion, right?

Other people’s conclusions aren’t evidence. They certainly aren’t a “ton of evidence.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

Wait, so how is “some people agree with me” evidence?

Anyway, everyone notes that the PDF has gone viral. I’m not disputing that.

I’m questioning whether there is any evidence (or a “ton of evidence”) that viral publicity and/or success of the book orders is attributable to the PDF’s viral distribution.

There is actual evidence that stories about the book were being shared *apart from the PDF*. I have seen no evidence that it is the PDF, and *not* the other viral publicity, that drove sales/success.

I’m also not saying that is untrue. I’m just saying I’ve seen no evidence of that, so it strikes me as a double standard to claim that there is a “ton of evidence” for that from someone who always asks for empirical evidence to back up claims he doesn’t like or agree with.

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Are you just mad that nobody sent you a link to the pdf, or what?

Well, how ’bout this. Buzz was built up on the book through articles. People wanted to see the whole book out of curiosity. It won’t be released for 6 months? In the age of information we have to wait 6 months for a dinosaur publishing company to print and deliver the material? Obviously somebody leaked the book in full, arguably bringing a lot more attention to the book since now people can look at all of it instead just a few excerpts. As some mentioned, they will now buy the book when it comes out. Others won’t, and they probably wouldn’t have anyways. So what does it matter if the book is out in full on pdf or jpeg on some website?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

As I said before, I’m not sure what effect, if any, the availability of the PDF has had on sales of the book. Some people read it, are satisfied with the novelty, and don’t buy a copy. Some people read it, write a good review, and that causes others to order a copy. I don’t know the net result.

I just thought, for someone who so often criticizes claims not based on empirical evidence, claiming a “ton of evidence” supports that notion that sales were driven by the PDF distribution, as opposed to the viral publicity having little or nothing to do with the PDF distribution, was suspect.

Mary R (profile) says:

From the wtf department

“as it’ll probably give you a chuckle for putting into words what you’ve thought many times…”

chuckle? perhaps. But I never had such thoughts.

As for pseudo-children’s books “It’s A Book” by Lane Smith was well worth the $. What this article brings to mind is the old truism that the “you get what you pay for”. This particular item is not worth the paper it’s printed on, imo.

So is copying a pdf really stealing if people are only downloading it because of curiosity and have no interest whatsoever in displaying the thing on their coffee table? Does piracy take place if “no harm” was in fact done, and the volume of sales will be the same regardless of the availability of a preview copy?

Case in point: I can go to the bookstore and read the entire book without buying it. Does that make me a criminal? This isn’t freaking Harry Potter. Releasing content before its actual release date… is it really going to matter?

*Shrug* Whatevah.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: From the wtf department

Piracy is an action, not an outcome; so yes, piracy did happen even if there was no harm. However, since there is no marketing campaign and you can’t go to the book store and read it, I would say that piracy ether did no harm whatsoever, or more likely helped.

And every parent has had those thoughts (It’s the reason the book is funny and not child abuse). It’s the actions you take in response to those thoughts that make you a good parent or not.

I would so totally buy this for my sister (and she would display it), but if they’re going after the people who helped them sell it, I don’t know.

Robert Doyle (profile) says:

At least they are only asking

From reading this, it seems like they are requesting people remove the hosted copies. You are required to do this to a certain extent to actually protect your IP – if people can show a lack of enforcement, the IP can be deemed abandoned. This doesn’t feel in the same vein as much of the other stuff reported on here, and I don’t think it is a great idea to do away with all IP rights – many people would lose the incentive to create if all they got for it was a feeling of satisfaction. (I said ‘most’ all of you flamers – I fully admit that there are many who create for the joy of it)

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