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Free: The Future of a Radical Price [Kindle Edition]

Chris Anderson
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (189 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $8.89
You Save: $7.11 (44%)
Sold by: Hachette Book Group

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Book Description

The online economy offers challenges to traditional businesses as well as incredible opportunities. Chris Anderson makes the compelling case that in many instances businesses can succeed best by giving away more than they charge for. Known as "Freemium," this combination of free and paid is emerging as one of the most powerful digital business models. In Free, Chris Anderson explores this radical idea for the new global economy and demonstrates how it can be harnessed for the benefit of consumers and businesses alike. In the twenty-first century, Free is more than just a promotional gimmick: It's a business strategy that is essential to a company's successful future.

Download the audiobook of Free for free! Details inside the book.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In the digital marketplace, the most effective price is no price at all, argues Anderson (The Long Tail). He illustrates how savvy businesses are raking it in with indirect routes from product to revenue with such models as cross-subsidies (giving away a DVR to sell cable service) and freemiums (offering Flickr for free while selling the superior FlickrPro to serious users). New media models have allowed successes like Obama's campaign billboards on Xbox Live, Webkinz dolls and Radiohead's name-your-own-price experiment with its latest album. A generational and global shift is at play—those below 30 won't pay for information, knowing it will be available somewhere for free, and in China, piracy accounts for about 95% of music consumption—to the delight of artists and labels, who profit off free publicity through concerts and merchandising. Anderson provides a thorough overview of the history of pricing and commerce, the mental transaction costs that differentiate zero and any other price into two entirely different markets, the psychology of digital piracy and the open-source war between Microsoft and Linux. As in Anderson's previous book, the thought-provoking material is matched by a delivery that is nothing short of scintillating. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Although Chris Anderson puts forward an intriguing argument in this cheerful, optimistic book, many critics remained unconvinced. They praised his engaging writing style, his amusing examples and anecdotes, and his clear explanations of complicated concepts and technologies, but they still questioned his conclusions. In addition to Anderson's own admission that YouTube -- one of his chief examples -- has been a financial black hole for Google, reviewers cited their own examples of industries that seem to run counter to Free's generalizations, such as broadcast television's fiscal struggles in the face of premium cable's expansion. Though some trends seem to point in the direction of Free, the jury remains out for the present.

Product Details

  • File Size: 652 KB
  • Print Length: 210 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1446409554
  • Publisher: Hyperion (July 7, 2009)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002DYJR4G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,566 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
103 of 114 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great ideas and even better when implemented July 24, 2009
I read the original WIRED magazine article written by Mr. Anderson that this book is based on back in February 2008; I've been anxiously awaiting this book... and I've just finished it.

First off, I've implemented a few "freebies" in the past year that I give away in my line of work; the question was whether it would pay off. It did. I offered something of value (to me, and I believe to my customer) and waited to see if interest in the free item would increase sales of a companion item. Sales were there.

So many people are attacking the book for various reasons, but for me the key question for rating this book was "Is the author's information accurate and can it hold up to real-world results?" The answer is Yes.

A lot of things in the book aren't relevant to me, but I've taken what I can from it (in addition to the original article) and made some changes in how I do business. (I'm a small business owner, not a corporate giant.)

You can agree or disagree with the book's overall theme, but my findings are that the book has a solid grasp on how any business that has any Internet-related sales or support must adapt. The author's argument about how costs are moving to zero for the "bits" world is dead-on.

I find it humorous that so many negative reviews of the book are simply about the price of the book (or the lack of price for some of the free versions). The book is about the concept of Free. Some people are seeing "Free" on the cover and whining that it has a price???

The book isn't light reading - it's got some complicated concepts that the reader must grasp, especially business owners.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Freeconomics August 19, 2009
Because of the ongoing drop in the cost of bandwith, storage and computer processing power, which brings the cost of each of these digital age services to almost zero, "free" is becoming a more prevalent price with real power. For the business person and others wishing to profit from "free", the trick is to figure out how to sell services or products related to the free one. Author Chris Anderson, who also wrote Long Tail, The, Revised and Updated Edition: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More uses Google as one of his primary examples of how free functions in this new economy. Google provides free internet searches and makes money off the targeted ads and premium products. Music groups have gotten on board, and have let go of the idea that they muist rely on copyright protection, and have benefited handsomely by giving away their music and more than making up for it in concerts, premium versions of their music and band-related paraphernelia. Not all "free" providers have managed to "monetize" their offerings. Facebook and Twitter are two examples, although the latter is on the verge of attempting to do so.

The above successes have occured in what Anderson labels the "bits" world that relies on the electronic generation of information, but free can also work in what Anderson calls the "atoms" world, where products are things you can hold or services that you can experience. Telecommunications companies, for example, give you a free cell phone but make their money on usage and ring tones. Anderson provides a good number of examples in table form of both bits and atoms free.
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22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
I was eager to read "Free," since as an author with an online presence myself, I have used free strategies and would like to know how to implement them more effectively.

The book really hooked me in the beginning, but wandered thoughout the middle as a hodgepodge of poorly-chosen or explained examples, and then finished more strongly with summaries of free-style strategies.

My biggest disappointment was that in the 274-page guide, Anderson devoted barely two pages to the strategy of free books in particular. I thought this was an important case study that deserved more coverage, as it can tie together an older model of book publishing with new media and free electronic outreach.

I really objected to some of the overlooked opportunities to discuss the ethics of some free models, such as the "free" electronic health record and practice management software that is given to doctors in return for their patients' anonymized medical chart information. The patients' health history data is resold for $50 to $500 per chart. I am extremely uncomfortable with that kind of commercialization of the doctor-patient relationship, which I assume goes on without the patients' knowledge or consent. Yet Anderson does not discuss this as a problem.

He brings up the Corn Economy and the impact of cheap, ubiquitous corn, invoking Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, while largely missing the point that industrial corn-dominated agriculture with its economies of scale is in the process of ruining our diet and environment. Free in the short term can have disastrous, displaced costs in the long term.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and insightful
Great book. Very insightful. It brings to light many of the ways in which astute entrepreneurs have leveraged free as a way to amass large audiences and open up ancillary (but... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Daniel E Ripoll
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting take on the rise of the non-monetized economy, so to...
Very interesting take on the new developments, brought in by the internet, especially non-monetized aspects such as blogging, wiki, open source software, etc.. Read more
Published 4 months ago by DaleO
4.0 out of 5 stars All Internet player should read it
the book explained the inevitable trend of internet. Give examples of how different industry and people handled this trend. It was a good reading.
Published 5 months ago by Yudan Jin
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting ideas...
Very interesting ideas presented in a very concise way. I look forward to putting many of these ideas into practice in my business.
Published 6 months ago by Ralph Velasco
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it when I first bought a computer.
Anticipates how corporations with foresight are using the concept of 'free' offers to advertise online. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Robert Michael Fink
5.0 out of 5 stars very much worth the read! :)
Also the author of Long Tail Theory. A quick conclusion that free does not really free...but selling integrity (free at first, revenue later).. Read more
Published 6 months ago by David Ip
3.0 out of 5 stars Free: one guys view
An interesting attempt at defending free pricing tactics.

A recommended read for those who don't understand why free happens. Read more
Published 10 months ago by jason Mortensen
5.0 out of 5 stars A great look at the economy of 'free'
An interesting look a the economic factors involved with 'free.' It covers the move from an economy based on physical atoms to one based on digital bits, how 'free' can be used... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Adam Moliski
4.0 out of 5 stars Making Free Work!
Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- "The "free" part of freemium is simple, but the "premium" part is... Read more
Published 13 months ago by O. Halabieh
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun economics lesson for old timers and newbies
Chris has created a fun listen/read, that instructs and reflects on how technology has helped us sell more, by giving away "valued Stuff". Read more
Published 14 months ago by tester
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More About the Author

I'm the editor of Wired Magazine and the author of "The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More", "FREE: The Future of a Radical Price" and "Makers: The New Industrial Revolution".

I live in Berkeley, CA, with my wife and five children.

In my spare time, I have a hobby-gone-wrong in the form of an aerial robotics community at DIY Drones and 3D Robotics, a company I co-founded that makes aerial robotic technolgy. We develop open source autopilots and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which some people find thrilling and others find worrying. You can make up your own mind:

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Topic From this Discussion
"Free" is not free
What's funny about this thread is that the book _is_ free. -- free audio version right there. I just downloaded the whole thing and listened to the Introduction. Even though it says "abridged" it was the same as the print version. And inside the book it says that... Read More
Jul 2, 2009 by John Hilton |  See all 12 posts
Beware: Book contains plagiarism
Seems to me there are two different issues:

1. Listing passages from Wikipedia without attribution (which Anderson admits should never have happened); and
2. Using Wikipedia, even with attribution, as a definitive source again and again. Anderson calls it "the greatest trove of... Read More
Jul 22, 2009 by Tough Cookie |  See all 8 posts
why is this selling for full price
Actually the product (digital version) is available for free at the sony ebookstore. I imagine it it will shortly be the same price on the kindle soon as amazon seems to match all of sony's promotional deals on ebooks. If you don't have a sony reader you can still read it on your computer....
Jul 15, 2009 by J. Mabrey |  See all 4 posts
Why isn't "Free" available on Kindle???
It will be available for the Kindle within the next week - for free! From the author's blog:

"Next up, in the coming week: free FREE on Kindle and other ebook readers, including the iPhone."
Jul 8, 2009 by Joshua Drescher |  See all 7 posts
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