I heard from Michael Grecco about his new ebook on lighting and wanted to know more about finding the original book on torrent sites and how that spurred him on to create an electronic version. Here’s what he had to say:
In 2006, I released a book that grew from a very well received lecture series called “Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait” that I gave at the Photo Plus Expo. The goal of the book was to describe what I had learned about lighting over the course of my career. In writing the book I made the decision to hold nothing back. The book went on to be a best seller, briefly hitting number 291 on Amazon (out of the millions of books they have). We sold over 30,000 copies worldwide. I was thrilled with the results and, to this day, the book continues to sell
A few years ago a friend recommended that I start a “Google Alert” for my name and projects. Google will send you an email anytime you are mentioned on the Internet, which is an amazingly useful tool to monitor the Internet coverage of yourself and your projects. I discovered that “Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait” was very popular on torrent download and share sites. At the time, I just smiled and thought there was little to do about it; I guess it was just nice to be popular.
Then I thought, why not offer the book digitally? My book agent checked the contract and we both agreed that I had retained the electronic rights. When the book was first published by Watson Guptill (great publishing house- they did a fantastic job!), no one understood the value of digital rights, so the issue never made it into the contract. I consulted, my 19 year-old son, Dakota, who is into game design, to see if this was something he could program. Dakota did the coding of the book; we worked together on optimizing the images in size and resolution so that they looked great. We also re-did the lighting diagrams, taking them up a notch by giving them more details and making them read better on the device. Then we added a bonus chapter for purchasers of the eBook.
In retrospect, I understand that the torrents were infringing my book, but as we investigated, some sites actually did not have the book available- they were just using the name to entice people to subscribe to their torrent site. Researching who actually had the book, and who did not, was a huge undertaking. But what I realized was that these sharing sites were telling me that there was an unfulfilled demand for a serious photography book, in an electronic format, about lighting. We expect, with the eBook release of “Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait,” for the electronic theft to disappear as photographers find the original–and superior–version available at an affordable price.
If the book continues to be successful, we are looking to provide other photographers with our publishing and marketing infrastructure to help them publish their books electronically through our newly formed company, Naked Editions. I am curious to learn what your readers think.