Now here’s an interesting thing: a new children’s book, Go the F— to Sleep, has be catapulted to number one on Amazon’s best seller list, and has garnered a film option from Fox 2000 – all before the book has even been published.  It’s due out on June 14.  How?  Piracy!

Here is a snippet from Fast Company:

… What seems to set this book apart, hypothesizes The Bay Citizen, is the pirated PDF copy of the book that has gone absolutely viral.

Piracy, any publisher will tell you, is bad. It’s the scourge of the music industry. With the rise of e-reading, booksellers now fear it to a similar degree. Akashic has been fighting the rampant piracy of its best-seller, almost reflexively. As Ahmad told The Bay Citizen: “As the publisher of this book, our responsibilty is to tackle instances of piracy when we become aware of them…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 in this particular case, fighting piracy may not be doing a serivce to the book. Piracy, it seems, is what has driven the book’s real-world, money-making, flying-off-the-shelves success. The bootleg copy hasn’t replaced the actual artifact. It has only served as a sort of free advertising. Piracy can hurt publishers, but it can also help them. Call it the double-edged cutlass.

“I’m not sure we’d think it’s a bad thing,” the publicity director of McSweeney’s, Juliet Litman, told The Bay Citizen, of this instance of rampant piracy. May other publishers be so fortunate as to have their booty (profitably) plundered in the same manner as Akashic’s.


  1. I received this from my sister last week. I had no idea it was a real book, I thought it was a joke. Who would publish a book for children (and a movie apparently) where the f-word is on every page?

  2. This is another instance of pretty definitive proof that the knee-jerk horror most authors have for book piracy is foolish and short sighted.

  3. So HOW did it get popular then when its not for sale? Your argument is foolish DensityDuck. Sorry I refuse to believe a book makes #1 on Amazon’s best seller list on preorders based on the name along. People saw the pirated book or HEARD about the pirated book from someone that saw it and wanted to buy it. That IS why people give away free samples of products to generate interest in a product.

  4. You know the same reason book publishers give away copies of a book at conventions and why new authors trying to break into the market give away free copies of their book in the Kindle store. The difference of course being the pirated copies didn’t have DRM so they circulated faster and caused a lot MORE publicity and interest. Yeah sure if there is a new Harry Potter book coming out they don’t NEED publicity. If something on the order of that got pirated they MIGHT lose more sales than they gained. But a book that NEEDS publicity? Granted if it was a poorly done book, then getting an advance peek probably wouldn’t help on orders. Which makes me assume this IS a well done book. I haven’t seen it.

  5. Or like how Baen Books gives away books in their Free Library. When Mercedes Lackey put up a FREE book there, it increased sales on ALL the books she had in print. It gave people a chance to see one of her books for free. They LIKED it. They bought more of her books. People that had never read any of her books before were buying them because they got to try a freebie for nothing.

  6. “I refuse to believe a book makes #1 on Amazon’s best seller list on preorders based on the name along.(sic)”

    Because it’s totally impossible that you could just hear about the book. The only way a book ever gets popular is if people read it first!

  7. Oh, it is quite possible to just hear about a book. It however is VERY unlikely to get enough publicity BEFORE it is released to make #1 an Amazon JUST from people hearing about it.

    You stated it was stolen because it was popular. You seem unable to explain how IT got so popular and others not published don’t. Unless of course you look at the one difference with this book. It has been pirated. I would love to know WHEN it hit #1 ie was it before or after it was pirated?

    Just another case of advertizing pays even when its not planned by the publisher.

  8. Ok. I tell you what DensityDuck, you announce your soon to be published book. When it makes #1 on Amazon best seller list without being published and without a copy being leaked I will admit I was mistaken. When it doesn’t make #1 you can admit you were mistaken.

  9. This book is getting a huge amount of publicity – so much so i thought it was already out. I see it discussed in a lot of places. I’m sure this pre-release publicity is a major factor in it being #1 for pre-orders.

    oh, and btw, it’s not aimed at children. it’s aimed at their parents.

  10. Thanks for confirming that becca, I had assumed it was about raising children vice being a children’s book. The argument between me and DensityDuck is over which came first the popularity or the pirating of the book. He claims it was stolen because it was popular and I say the majority of its popularity as shown by it being #1 on Amazon is BECAUSE is was pirated and people were able to see the book and tell others about its contents. Short of something like Harry Potter I have never heard of ANY book being number #1 before it was released for sale before. So I see a correlation between it being leaked and the high pre-release orders. Without knowing when it was pirated and when orders peaked its hard to be positive of course.

The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail