Free

I’ve been trying to read this book since its release. When it was released last year, you could read the entire thing on Google Books, listen to the audio book, or you could buy the book.

The thing about the first two options was that it was free to read on Google Books or to download the audio book. A book about free that released part of itself for free? Unreal!

In those early days I read the first few chapters, listened to the first chapter, and promised myself I’d get back to it. I never did. By the time an opportunity arose where I could listen to it, I encountered a problem.

I could still listen to it, its MP3s were playable on my iPod, it’s just that I failed to take into account how hard it is to listen to anything at 35,000 feet in the air when your ears are popping and you’re sitting next to an airplane engine.

Fortunately, the paperback version of this book was due to be out in a few days. I bought the paperback and read it completely before I had to leave Arizona. I was hoping there’d be an extra bonus chapter like Anderson had in the paperback version of his last book, The Long(er) Tail.

The book is about how different companies have used free to make money. One example I love and have most likely mentioned on this blog before was the one where Prince released a copy of his latest CD for free in a British newspaper. If you bought a copy of the paper that day, you got Prince’s CD as a pack-in bonus.

Prince went on to sell out over 20 concerts in the UK that month. He made millions of dollars.

Another example is the British newspaper that gave away an entire 60-piece cutlery set. They gave away one piece per day. In reality, the paper only had 2 or 3 cent invested in each fork or spoon, but probably a few cents more in each serving spoon or whatever. If you missed a paper, your cutlery set was missing a piece.

This book has prompted a “what if” scenario in my head that I would like to see if I can sell to an actual magazine. If a magazine buys it, yay, I’ll tell you about it. If not, I’ll most likely write it here. I’ll keep you posted, dear reader.

I think it goes without saying that I enjoyed this book. Of course, I’m a bit biased. I’ve had a subscription to Wired Magazine for nearly 3 years. I even read the issue where Mr. Anderson first posits his idea for Free.

Free book page on Hyperion.

Original article on Free on Wired.com.

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