The Skimmer

1 minute read
Alex Altman

Free: The Future of a Radical Price

By Chris Anderson Hyperion; 274 pages

As companies struggle to keep afloat in an age of abundance, Anderson posits a provocative solution: give your wares away gratis. An idea “as powerful as it is misunderstood,” Free has become a multibillion-dollar business model tailor-made for the Internet economy. As digital-infrastructure costs approach zero, Anderson argues that Free often pays off, whether it involves giving away cell phones to hawk monthly plans or embracing piracy to spark demand for merchandise. He also explains how charging even a penny can scramble consumer psychology and sketches a blueprint for competing with juggernauts, like Google, that have harnessed the force of a unique digit–“the hole where the price should be, the void at the till.” The editor in chief of Wired magazine and best-selling author of The Long Tail, Anderson capitalizes Free into a concept whose meaning sometimes crumples under his sweeping pronouncements. By his calculation, however, a flawed book remains a savvy bet–not least because the publicity will boost the author’s brand on the lecture circuit.


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