• by Chris Anderson
  • Narrated by Chris Anderson
  • 7 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The New York Times best-selling author heralds the future of business in Free. In his revolutionary best seller, The Long Tail, Chris Anderson demonstrated how the online marketplace creates niche markets, allowing products and consumers to connect in a way that has never been possible before. Now, in Free, he makes the compelling case that, in many instances, businesses can profit more from giving things away than they can by charging for them. Far more than a promotional gimmick, Free is a business strategy that may well be essential to a company's survival. The costs associated with the growing online economy are trending toward zero at an incredible rate. Never in the course of human history have the primary inputs to an industrial economy fallen in price so fast and for so long.Just think that in 1961 a single transistor cost $10; now Intel's latest chip has two billion transistors and sells for $300 (or 0.000015 cents per transistor - effectively too cheap to price). The traditional economics of scarcity just don't apply to bandwidth, processing power, and hard-drive storage. Yet this is just one engine behind the new Free, a reality that goes beyond a marketing gimmick or a cross-subsidy. Anderson also points to the growth of the reputation economy; explains different models for unleashing the power of Free; and shows how to compete when your competitors are giving away what you're trying to sell.In Free, Chris Anderson explores this radical idea for the new global economy and demonstrates how this revolutionary price can be harnessed for the benefit of consumers and businesses alike.


What the Critics Say

"As in Anderson's previous book, the thought-provoking material is matched by a delivery that is nothing short of scintillating." (Publishers Weekly)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Thought Provoking

Anderson in "The Long Tail" taught us about doing business on the internet. He showed us how everyone could find a niche market to serve. In "Free" he tells us what happens when the cost of doing business on the Web reaches zero. Everyone will not be satisfied with his presentation here, but it is certainly thought provoking.

In this timely volume Anderson first puts the concept of "Free" into historical context. This is an informative section and necessary for a full understanding of what follows. Subsequently, he makes and illustrates his belief that in the electronic market place the cost of doing business will soon reach zero and free is always a choice. All of this he does well. I felt sections dealing with business outside of the electronic environment were weaker,but still interesting. I hope that we see other books on these timely subjects.

The book stimulates speculation on the part of the listener. For example, when computing power goes to zero routine medical diagnostics should cost the health care system zero! As well, physicians may well be freed (sorry) to spend more time on sicker patients. Or, as the cost of electricity from a Wind Farm nears zero, will power hungry vendors (Google server farms comes to mind) move geographically nearer to those sources of power to benefit?

An aside - Anderson's book has a number of side bars in each chapter. In the audio book those are opened and closed with a little "bong" sound. I came to look forward to every such aside.

I hope we hear more from Anderson. He doesn't answer all of the questions and everyone could nitpick. However, he raises issues, illuminates current conditions, and provokes thought. Pretty good combination.
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- Roy


I loved "Free" for 3 reasons:

Reason 1: Anderson is a terrific storyteller. Free is one of those books where you learn some, think some, and have fun during the ride. The main argument for Free is that the economics of digital goods pushes the price of these goods to their marginal cost of production, which in the case of digital copies is close enough to zero to set that price at free. Further, the price of free enables all sorts of businesses and opportunities, providing opportunities for new business models, profits and services.

Reason 2: The growth of free has all sorts of implications for higher education. Nowadays a lifelong learner can receive a wonderful education from Web content ranging from TED talks to lectues on iTunesU and YouTube/EDU. Educational content is now free. This forces us in higher education to rethink our own value propositions and where we exist in a digital economy built around abundance of quality curricular and lecture content as opposed the scarcity model that traditional lecturing/courses is built upon.

Reason 3: Anderson made the unabridged audio edition of Free available for free on Audible and some other outlets. This price encouraged a bunch of us at Dartmouth to read the book together, generated some great discussions and debate. Having the book freely available to our community proved to be an excellent argument for the library overcoming the scarcity of digital books to have them available to our community. I admire Anderson to no end for putting his money where his mouth is and offering the digital copy at the price of production. I'd gladly pay more in Educause conference fees to listen Anderson keynote one of our conferences.
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- Joshua Kim "mostly nonfiction listener"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-02-2009
  • Publisher: Hyperion