Sunday, August 11, 2013

Book #42. Free, by Chris Anderson

Free, by Chris Anderson, unabridged audio read by the author.

Chris Anderson, the author of The Long Tail, came back with an exploration of the economics of pricing for the modern world. One of the trends apparent in a technology-based world is the power of the free product -- this blog and my podcasts, for example. Anderson covers many aspects of the internet economy, from the ad-supported model, the freemium model, the gift economy, the app economy, and even pirating.

Some of these pricing models are not new, such as free radio, and ad-supported TV and newspapers, and Anderson writes about the history of those industries. Anderson does a good job talking about the music industry, and how record labels have always been against change, even the free model of receiving music via the radio. His concepts of "atoms" versus "bits" is valuable, as is the notion of "abundance thinking," as a means of promoting economic growth.
Anderson is quick to point out that the word "free" has two meanings ("no cost" and "liberty") and although the two definitions may relate to each other, the "no cost" definition is the important one for new media.

This is a three-year-old book, and in many management texts, that is not a problem. But in this case, it makes for some out-of-date examples, such as the claim that the hottest hardware category is netbooks. But the key concepts of the book are still noteworthy, and the straight economic discussions are very worthwhile.

Source: NoiseTrade website, which has a pay-what-you-want model

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