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Publisher's Summary

In The Zero Marginal Cost Society, New York Times bestselling author Jeremy Rifkin argues that the capitalist era is passing—not quickly, but inevitably. The emerging Internet of Things is giving rise to a new economic system that will transform our way of life.
In this provocative new book, Rifkin argues that the coming together of the Communication Internet with the fledgling Energy Internet and Logistics Internet in a seamless twenty-first-century intelligent infrastructure—the Internet of Things—is boosting productivity to the point where the marginal cost of producing many goods and services is nearly zero, making them essentially free. The result is that corporate profits are beginning to dry up, property rights are weakening, and the conventional mind-set of scarcity is slowly giving way to the possibility of abundance. The zero marginal cost phenomenon is spawning a hybrid economy—part capitalist market and part “collaborative commons”—with far-reaching implications for society.
Rifkin describes how hundreds of millions of people are already transferring parts of their economic lives from capitalist markets to what he calls the global Collaborative Commons. “Prosumers” are making and sharing their own information, entertainment, green energy, and 3-D printed products at near zero marginal cost. They are also sharing cars, homes, clothes, and other items via social media sites, redistribution clubs, and cooperatives at low or near zero marginal cost. Students are even enrolling in free MOOCs, massive open online courses that operate at near zero marginal cost. And young social entrepreneurs are establishing ecologically sensitive businesses using crowd funding as well as creating alternative currencies in the new sharing economy. In this new world, social capital is as important as financial capital, access trumps ownership, cooperation supersedes competition, and “exchange value” in the capitalist marketplace is increasingly replaced by “sharable value” on the Collaborative Commons.
Rifkin concludes that while capitalism will be with us for the foreseeable future, albeit in an increasingly diminished role, it will not be the dominant economic paradigm by the second half of the twenty-first century. We are, Rifkin says, entering a world beyond markets, where we are learning how to live together in an increasingly interdependent global Collaborative Commons.
©2014 Jeremy Rifkin (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
2 out of 5 stars
By Pierre Parent on 07-26-17

Not a convincing argument-just stories & ideology

Would you try another book from Jeremy Rifkin and/or David Cochran Heath?

Probably not.

I was expecting an analysis of the impact that lower, close to zero marginal costs would have on businesses since the subtitle of the book included 'the eclipse of capitalism', but what I got was stories about how certain segments were seeing a rise of the collaborative commons. I don't disagree that these changes are occurring, but if anyone has paid attention to technology in society than they would already be aware of most of these stories.

What was lacking was a substantive analysis of how these changes would proceed. Instead there were general statements that the collaborative commons would push capitalism aside into a minor role in society. Mr. Rikfin never explains why that will happen. He doesn't provide any evidence that people will move from a profit seeking system to a 'good for all' system other than stories where this has happened in limited spaces.

There was also one major flaw in his economics and it was made right at the beginning and is key to his argument that capitalism is doomed. He states that price should equal marginal cost and thus as marginal cost gets close to zero then price will also get close to free. However economic theory states that marginal revenue equals marginal cost. As the president of a high-tech company I can state that this is also the principal that drives ours and our competitors' practices. This means that price will probably NOT go to zero even when marginal costs do. One just has to look at ebooks to find a mature industry that is already at near zero costs and prices are not zero (excluding promotions). If zero prices and the end of capitalism hasn't occurred in this industry why will it happen elsewhere.

Mr. Rifkin never tries to make a convincing case that it will. Instead he makes comments on why capitalism is bad, even though he grudgingly (it seems to me) admits that it has done more good than any other economic system. He seems to have a blind faith that the collaborative commons is a better system because it puts people and sharing first.

I'd be willing to place a bet that capitalism will be around longer than Mr. Rifkin believes, even if it is in a modified form. After all many of the positive stories that Mr. Rifkin talks about were initiated by capitalist companies, such as ride-sharing.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

I had to play the book at 1.5 speed to maintain my interest. Part of this was the lack for substantive content, some was the narration.

Any additional comments?

In the end this was a very disappointing book especially written by someone who is supposed to be an adviser to government leaders. It was a struggle to listen to the entire book, but I did hoping there would be more 'meat' at the end. Unfortunately there wasn't so this will be the first Audible book I return for a refund.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By "ge-ko" on 02-25-15

pleasant and inspiring..

.. but is it realistic? I kept wondering. It somehow appears too neat to be true and leaves aside so ongoing threat that the technological shift is just taken over and used by financial interests.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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