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Free: The Future of a Radical Price: The Economics of Abundance and Why Zero Pricing Is Changing the Face of Business Hardcover – 2 Jul 2009


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Business (2 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905211473
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905211470
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.9 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 381,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chris Anderson is Editor-in-Chief of Wired magazine, a position he took in 2001. Since then he has led the magazine to nine National Magazine Award nominations, winning the top prize for General Excellence in 2005, 2007 and 2009. AdAge magazine named him Editor of the Year in 2005. Previously he was at The Economist, Nature and Science magazines. He is the author of the internationally acclaimed The Long Tail, which was shortlisted for the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award in 2006 and won the Loeb Award for best business book in 2007. He lives in Northern California with his wife and five children.

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Review

"Turns traditional economics upside down" Guardian "Even if you're a freesheet-reading Spotify user, this is the best GBP18.99 you'll ever spend" GQ "an insightful, steady and scrupulous analysis" Financial Times "There are many books about the workings of the new economy, but Anderson ... [is] ... one of the most reliable and skilful guides. Free is worth the money" Management Today "an enjoyable jaunt through business land" Daily Telegraph

Book Description

The author of The Long Tail unveils his radical vision of the new economy

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli TOP 500 REVIEWER on 25 Aug 2009
Format: Hardcover
Economists swear there is no such thing as a free lunch. Someone always pays. That may be true in the "atoms" world of physical things, but Chris Anderson explains why it does not apply in the "bits" world of the Internet, where "free" is the ruling paradigm. If, as Stewart Brand (founder of the Whole Earth Catalogue and the Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link) said, "Information wants to be free," now it is, at least in many instances, particularly online. While the idea of giving things away as a promotion or loss leader isn't new, Anderson's fresh insight is that giveaways are becoming a business imperative that companies are going to have to accept and use. Actually, companies online and off can become immensely profitable when they give products or services away for free to bring customers in and to create the need for future ancillary product sales (in other words, take the printer and buy the ink). Anderson, author of The Long Tail and editor of Wired magazine, tells you how to make money by providing most of your offerings for free and charging for just a few of them. getAbstract recommends this perceptive, innovative, idiosyncratic book to all marketers.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Serghiou Const on 24 July 2009
Format: Hardcover
The author of the book, Chris Anderson, has solid credentials. He is the editor of Wired while he has previously held posts at The Economist, Nature and Science magazines. He is the author of the widely acclaimed and best selling 'The Long Tail'and was the recipient of the Loeb award for best business book in 2007.

The two books, 'The Long Tail' and 'Free' bear a family resemblance in that they are both based on the argument that rapid technological innovation has led to a paradigm shift in business model, product marketing, and cost. But unlike 'The Long Tail', 'Free' lacks an elegant underlying explanation for why some of the new models work and others do not, consequently while 'Free' is interesting is not as compelling as its illustrious sibling.

'The Long Tail' provided an illuminating perspective on the success of internet companies such as Amazon, eBay and Google. These very different companies were all exploiting the internet's capacity to open up niche markets that their rivals with physical facilities, limited precisely by the lack of physical space, could not.

The author divides the idea of Free into four subcategories:cross-subsidies e.g give away the razor, sell the blade;advertising-supported services from radio and television to websites;freemium in which a small subset of users pay for a premium version, supporting a free version for the majority;and non-monetary markets in which participants motivated by non-financial considerations develop things like open-source software and Wikipedia.

Obviously at least the first two categories are old and the author readily acknowledges that. He argues that Free is not new but it is changing. What is different, he argues, is that Free can be more widely applied in the digital era.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By S. Daintree on 7 July 2009
Format: Hardcover
Just finished this.

A good, interesting book, but very annoying that there are next to no references. It makes his arguments weaker as you can't verify his sources.

This is more of an academic gripe, and the book is very good aside from this.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Victor Smart on 23 Aug 2009
Format: Hardcover
In the spirit of Free, I didn't buy this book, but downloaded the ereader version gratis. The book's big claim is that Free is coming to dominate in business. This idea is propped up with some history of the roots of the concept of "zero". None of this is entirely convincing. And as you click through the pages, the grand thesis becomes much-diluted. What's left in an account of how business models are coping (in some cases with spectacular success) in a world where the marginal cost of all things digital falls by half each year: it's about digital abundance rather than gifting.
Still there is plenty of interesting, if not wildly new, material not least about how the Google business model rests on assuming in advance the giddy, inexorable lowering of data storage costs.
Anderson's take on things is pretty grounded in commercial realities - and certianly rings true for the digital world. But the forays into the non-digital world, such as the cheap-razors-expensive-blades Gillette model, are a little tired. There is also a touch of digital cheerleading. I read this on a trip to Kenya: injunctions to "manage for abundance, not scarcity" sound pretty hollow amid growing food scarcity.
But the way Anderson applies his perspective to some of the world's most exciting new businesses is intriguing and illuminating - and his conversational style in highly readable. Only digital natives, the under thirties, may find it all very predictable
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sofia Romualdo on 15 Jun 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book hoping it would help me understand a little better the economics of the internet world. There's no doubt that the internet was built around the concept of Free, but like with every other topic I'm interested in, I missed reading a systematic study about what (if anything) had changed, and how. This book does a decent job at it, but it wasn't perfect.

It gives a historical account of Free, the different meanings it can have, and how people react to it. It goes into the web world and those that have benefited from it, and those who have not, and why. It starts off well, but after a while, I felt like I was reading the same thing over and over again. It gets better again towards the end, but I struggled to keep going in the middle since not much was being added to the discussion.

At times this felt very much like a one-sided account. The book touched upon the negative consequences of free but largely dismissed them in the grand scheme of things, and I wasn't convinced it was actually that simple. Still, a decent book on the topic.
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