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November 5, 2011

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Pirated Jobs' bio is big illicit hit

THE pirated version of Steve Jobs' biography has become the bestseller at the street stalls with authorized copies frequently sold out at bookstores in Shanghai.

Similar to the biography's popularity in overseas markets, the Jobs' biography has made a big splash in China. The Shanghai Book City on Fuzhou Road sold out all of its 1,800 copies within hours after its debut on October 24. The hot sales trend has continued in the past 12 days and the biography is always in short supply in local bookstores.

Many Apple fans are disappointed by the empty shelves but they soon find the pirated replicas, which are widely available throughout the pirate publication market. Street vendors display the biographies in English or Chinese in the most eye-catching places on their stalls and sell each book for about 20 yuan (US$3.10), much cheaper than the original editions.

The authorized Chinese version costs 68 yuan while the English copies are sold at US$17.88 on, over five times as expensive as the pirated versions.

Though these vendors know no English or any information about Jobs, they are very sensitive to market demand and are grateful to the Apple Co co-founder whose bio helped them earn a big fortune.

"My business soared after I started to sell the biography last week," said a woman vendor who sold pirated books on a tricycle on Beijing Road. "The book sold out very quickly. I need to replenish the stock again and again."

Another vendor on busy Nanjing Road W. saw a big sales boom because of the massive passenger flow near the subway station. "During rush hours, the books are even more easily sold out," he said.

However, some pirated books' content is totally different from original book, despite an identical cover. These pirated versions were especially rampant on the first two days after the book's official release.

Vendors in the city said the latest pirated version, which became available six days ago, was much closer to the official version.


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