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The best things in life are free, or so the old saying goes. These days, however, it seems that more and more companies and retailers are trying to get us something for free, and it is becoming increasingly doubtful that all of those freebies are the best that life can offer. Nonetheless, all this free stuff has certainly contributed to making many aspects of our daily lives simpler and more convenient, especially when it comes to those parts of our lives that we spend in digital world.
The raise of free predates computers, and it has a venerable history in the annals of marketing. Chris Anderson, the editor in chief of the "Wired Magazine" and the author of insightful "Long tail," narrates the greatest highlights of the history giving products for free. He also explains the rationale behind how the prices get set in a free market, and the reason why in the absence of almost any production costs we can expect products to eventually end up free. The reason that there is a proliferation of free nowadays has everything to do with the fact that the cost of creating and moving bits of information around is essentially zero.
Anderson spends an entire chapter defending the free model against its many critics. He takes every common objection to free that has been heard in recent years and provides a cogent and well-informed refutation. How convincing his arguments are, however, may depend on your own attitude and point of view.
At the end of the book there is a list of fifty different business models where products or services are given out for free. This is a useful list for anyone considering a cutting-edge modern business, and for the rest of us it gives us an opportunity to take a look at what kinds of things can be obtained for free these days.
Overall, this is an interesting book that takes a look at modern economy form a very unique angle. Only the time will tell if the paradigms used in this analysis will survive the test of time or are they just the latest fad.
 

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“Free: The Future of a Radical Price” is another thought provoking book by Chris Anderson. In this book, he discusses the concept of “free” products and services. As we all know, nothing in this world is truly free, and Anderson elaborates this point over 200 pages of enjoyable and fast-paced text. Anyone who’s taken an economics class knows that, in most cases, competition is good for the consumer because price decreases and quality increases. What Chris Anderson is saying is that in order to attract more customers, this competition will inevitably lead to prices of zero.
Anderson states that the word “Free” comes from the social notion of freedom from slavery and cost; Anderson’s book focuses, of course, on the cost portion of this definition. He starts off by explaining an example almost everyone can relate to when he explains how Gillette would sell their razors super cheap in order to increase demand for the more expensive and higher profit margin disposable blades. This is an example of what Anderson calls a direct cross-subsidiary which is the first of his four “Free Models”. A direct cross-subsidiary means that in order to get consumers to buy one product, a company will sell that product’s compliment at a low price. The other three free-markets are the three-party market, freemiums, and non-monetary markets.
The three-party system is the most common of the Free markets. In this system, two parties interact for free, while a third party pays to participate in this exchange. For example, it is free to listen to the radio (aside from the fixed cost of buying a radio) because advertisers pay the broadcasters. Next, a freemium is something that is seen most commonly on the internet. An example Anderson gives in the book is the website Flickr. It does not cost anything to use Flickr, however, if you want to “go pro” for $2.00 a month to become a premium member, you get unlimited uploads, account stats, ad-free browsing, and other perks. Finally, the last of the Free markets is the non-monetary markets. These are instances where people choose to give things away with no expectation of payment. A great example of this is peer-to-peer file sharing. One person will upload an album and thousands of people will download this file from the original uploader or the thousands of other people who downloaded it. None of the downloader’s or uploaders benefit directly from this transaction, however, in the long run they benefit because a community is built where no one has to pay for music if they don’t want to.
As of the writing of this book, there is no way to properly calculate the value of the Free market, however, Anderson estimates that its value is somewhere around the $300 billion mark. Anderson ends the book with some nice tidbits. His “Ten Free Rules” sum up the book quite well, next, his freemium tactics give you a ways to think about offering freemiums to your own customers, his fifty business models built on Free bring even more real world context, and finally his gives a website where you can download this book in audio form, making this text literally free!
I really enjoyed the flow of this book, even more so than his previous work, “The Long Tail”. I feel that he grew as a writer between the time he wrote The Long Tail and Free. I stated before that I liked the conversationalist style of his writing, and with his new book he hasn’t changed his approach. This time around he chose to add in about a dozen “side-bars”. These all posed the question, “How can _____ be free?” In these side-bars, he explains how companies can afford to offer services such as Free DVR or to give away a free CD in a famous magazine. I don’t think that this book’s readership should be limited to the business and tech world; I think that everyone would enjoy this book. Although nothing in here is ground-breaking, the text was very entertaining. I was constantly thinking of how these ideas, strategies and principles showed up in my own life.
I give this
 

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Interesting and succinct in its explanation of various business models which offer in some way a service or product for free. The other 250 pages are historical context-based filler.

Review: Free: The Future of a Radical Price

User Review  - Katie Wilkie - Goodreads

Chris Anderson has written a book all about the phenomenon of "Free"--paying nothing for something--and how it is changing the way we do business in the digital age. Consumers in the past have been ... Read full review

Review: Free: The Future of a Radical Price

User Review  - Eli - Goodreads

This was not exactly what I expected it to be, but I thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless. This is a look back at how "free" has played into so many markets over the years and where it may take us from ... Read full review

Review: Free: The Future of a Radical Price

User Review  - Joe - Goodreads

This book examines the free economy, focusing on the changes to business and society caused by the ease and availability of free digital services and products. For a topic that might seem like it ... Read full review

Review: Free: The Future of a Radical Price

User Review  - Ben Babcock - Goodreads

At the beginning of Free, Chris Anderson presents a generalized dichotomy toward "Free." Some—mostly the older users—are suspicious of Free and insist they will have to pay somewhere down the line ... Read full review

Review: Free: The Future of a Radical Price

User Review  - Jose Ribeiro Neto - Goodreads

A book that makes us thinks about this new world on a new economy. Chris Anderson makes us reflect about the future and how the digital information becomes cheaper to be made available over the ... Read full review

Review: Free: The Future of a Radical Price

User Review  - Donald - Goodreads

I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in Economics, particularly the Economics of the Internet. Anderson does an amazing job describing the evolution of payment and profit, and how so many ... Read full review

Review: Free: The Future of a Radical Price

User Review  - Brooks - Goodreads

I enjoyed Chris Anderson's, The Long Tale, very much. This book was almost as good. I read this primarily for work, but I also pick up how far off the edge of technology I live as I become older. The ... Read full review


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