Pirate copies of Anéantir, the new Houellebecq, available two weeks before its release

With 300,000 copies printed, the next Goncourt 2010 novel is due out in bookstores on January 7, 2022. But several versions of the book are already circulating for free on the Internet. Flammarion’s legal and IT departments are trying to stem the leaks.

When the first buyers flock to bookstores on January 7 for the new Michel Houellebecq, Annihilate, others will have already read a pirated copy downloaded before Christmas. And the scorned author can not do anything about it, like his publisher, Flammarion.

Many sites illegally offer thousands of free e-books, earning money from intrusive advertisements. The vast majority are books already published: just buy the digital version, and make it available to everyone.

But in the case of a book as awaited as a novel by Houellebecq, one of the French authors the most translated and sold abroad, with 300,000 copies planned for this release, it was necessary to obtain a copy beforehand. Which is much more difficult … but not impossible, obviously.

“It seems that the text is already circulating on the networks, in a quality PDF, according to the echoes that I have”, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday, a blogger specializing in electronic books, Hervé Bienvault. Wednesday, The Parisian relaying the information first, talking about a PDF file on a website that another Twitter user claimed to have. There are in fact, notes AFP, two sites where we find this quality copy as well as a third site which allows to obtain, still illegally, an Epub version (intended for e-readers), filled with computer slag.

Hervé Bienvault evokes that day “8,000 downloads on a single Quebec site”, and “Many possible choices” like “a Russian server” and “Mirror sites well known to academic circles”. Contacted by AFP, the publisher Flammarion replied that its legal and IT departments were doing their best to obtain the closure of the internet pages in question.

It is to sink into an infernal maze. For example, the first website on which Flammarion found Annihilate is domiciled in the United States, then returns to various storage sites domiciled in France, Germany and the United States. To succeed in “killing” all these internet pages, the steps are extremely tedious.

Not a journalist’s copy

This is not the first time that Houellebecq has been hacked. End of December 2014, Submission, which was due for release on January 7, 2015, was also hacked. At the time, it was unheard of in France. We strongly suspected the pirate of having scanned, with unsophisticated means, a copy intended for a journalist. The case will not be followed up: no investigation, no culprit of this flagrant violation of copyright.

This time the illegal PDF file ofAnnihilate end of 2021 does not seem to come from a journalist. The Book Identifier (ISBN) number is not complete, with “X’s” in place of the last seven digits, while print copies have a full ISBN. And on the other hand the scan, impeccable, appears to be made from sheets printed flat, not bound in volume, while the journalists have received a volume ready for sale.

Flammarion wrote to them in mid-December: “Out of respect for the readers who will not find it before this date [la sortie le 7 janvier], we ask you very solemnly to respect the embargo set for Thursday, December 30 ”. ATUtrly said to reveal nothing of the contents of the 736 pages. But a week before the deadline, they are no longer the only ones to have read the novel.

E-book piracy remains poorly punished. A single case in the matter ended up in French justice: in May, the correctional court of Nanterre sentenced nine people, members of the “Team AlexandriZ” who had pirated nearly 24,000 titles between 2010 and 2013.

SEE ALSO – Etienne de Montety: “Houellebecq knows how to tackle social issues by going beyond taboos. “

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