- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Hyperion; First Edition edition (July 7, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1401322905
- ISBN-13: 978-1401322908
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (200 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #379,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Free: The Future of a Radical Price First Edition Edition
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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)
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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
I personally thought that Free provided thoughtful examples of unique strategies individuals and firms can implement in order to be successful in a rapidly growing digital economy. Anderson utilizes a number of examples ranging from Jell-O giving away free recipe books to Nine Inch Nails allowing fans to download their entire album for free; to illustrate how not charging for certain services can create more value through other revenue channels. While I believe that Anderson stated a lot of obvious facts and common business practices, I found his explanations of how certain products can be free to be very informative. I think that the process of providing free trials, selling premium versions of software, and creating new medias for advertisers to reach consumers will likely continue to evolve. However, I do not think free will be as prevalent as Anderson implies. Many of the tangible products Anderson used to emphasize his points were second rate and rarely best in class. Even when consumers could receive the products Anderson highlighted for free, few, if any of the physical products were actually sales leaders in their respective markets. Consumers will always desire brand name premium products, and will likely pay the extra money to obtain the products they truly desire. While more and more products will be made available monetarily free, consumers will have to consider what else they are sacrificing when they opt for the free product.
As certain industries are opening up to this concept over the internet (ie. Music, movies), Anderson reminds readers that there are hidden costs of free for both consumers and companies. These costs can range from the lack of value in the free product, to increasing environment concerns, to decrease in product quality. Anderson does a great job at pointing out the advantages and the disadvantages of free.
I liked Free by Anderson much more than The Long Tail, also by Anderson and was about the infinite amount of choices offered on the internet. I thought Anderson explored and developed his thoughts more so in Free than in The Long Tail. The concept of "free" is not new, however, I would recommend this book to business owners, even if their business isn't done primarily over internet. Sometimes business owners feel that giving away products or services for free will hurt their business, when in fact; it could really help their business. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to others.
Price will fall to the marginal cost (in the digital bits case, free) unless the provider has a monopoly and/or enjoys the network effect such as Microsoft (Office docs) and Facebook. This supports a winner takes all effect, driving competitors to very low numbers. Facebook can not charge for new members because it has value in the network = linking new people all the time. So they will generate revenue from scale - losing with 99 % of the users and making it from a small % of ad revenue. ( or perhaps - selling stock!)
I see that Guy Kawasaki and Tim Ferris both used ideas from Anderson in their recent promotions. Guy generated more "reputation" currency by offering free downloads of the Macintosh Way to people who "liked" his new book facebook page. Tim Ferris drove buys of the new 4 Hour Body , by offering a pdf of the 4 Hour Workweek to those who bought the new book. Tim drove his book to the top of Amazon very quickly = increased sales and reputation.
This is the best treatment of free and freemium out there. If you buy this very readible book, read and digest it. It contains numerous money making ideas. Do not treat it lightly! You can get the audiobook still free at Chris' blog (long tail) :
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is a few years old now, and thus some of the info and examples...Read more