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Free: The Future of a Radical Price

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  16,206 ratings  ·  658 reviews

The New York Times bestselling author heralds the future of business in Free.

In his revolutionary bestseller, 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

Paperback, International Edition, 256 pages
Published July 7th 2009 by Hyperion (first published 2009)
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Dec 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Goodreads says that I'm "finished with Free", but I disagree. I love Free, and while listening to this audiobook (which was free), I was surprised by how much Free I'd taken advantage of in my life without even giving it a thought.

Chris Anderson says that my generation inherently understands (and to a point, expects) Free, and I'm proof of that. Hotmail, Yahoo!, Google, oh my! The internet is like the Free capital of the universe. I've never given a single thought to how these companies could g
Disclaimer: I won a free copy of this book from Goodreads First Reads.

Free is a pretty comprehensive overview of the free business model. Anderson first outlines the history of free, the economic and psychological reasons behind free, the reason that free can exist in today's digital world, and the ways it differs from so-called "20th century free."

Anderson's points are well made, complete, and interesting to read. However, I do believe that he ignores and/or understates the full implications o
Otis Chandler
Jun 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, business
A business classic that everyone should read. Explains 20th century and 21st century economics from a big picture perspective. The basic thesis is that while in the physical world (atoms), products have cost and thus companies can afford to give away small amounts of free samples (5%), or give away cheaper loss-leader related products in order to maintain profits. In the digital world things are reversed as products have little to no marginal cost and companies can afford to give away 95% of the ...more
In Free: The Future of a Radical Price Anderson insists that the way to profit online is to give products away. Of course, the intent of such a proclamation is to startle people unfamiliar with online dynamics -- which makes you wonder what tiny portion of his audience is actually startled. Even people from established industries such as newspapers and network television already know that their products only *appeared* to be free or nearly free to the consuming public. Their product certainly di ...more
Eskay Theaters & Smart Homes
This book was written during the initial years of the Social Media/Apps boom when people hadn't gotten used to the idea of being the product themselves (i.e. their data being sold to the highest bidders).
While everyone gleefully lapped up the 'free' services offered by the Apps, Chris was one of the first popular writers to ominously predict what would happen when we ourselves became the product.
Must read for all 21st Century Internet users.
Kara Babcock
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. Many younger users, on the other hand, think that Free, on the Internet at least, is a truism. Anderson says his goal is to convince us that neither camp has it completely right and that the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

This is an attitude that we can apply to the Internet in general. As newspap
Sep 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The gist of it is that the price of almost everything will gradually be driven towards being free (in its various forms). Considering this book was released in 2009, in the eight years since, we can already see how much of it turned out to be true. An informative read overall.
Jim Fonseca
Oct 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We've heard that information wants to be free. We're all for it as long as we are on the receiving rather than the giving end. The value of Chris Anderson's work is in showing us exactly how "free" can work. It turns out it's not a new idea: think radio and television in the days of antennas. Most Google services are free (paid for by ads). On-line textbooks can be free by selling add-ons such as the right to print chapters, study guides, audio summaries of chapters, downloads to electronic book ...more
Great Book !! I love the way that he explained things by using the concept of economics.
Arash Outadi
Aug 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was a really illuminating audio-back as someone who works in the tech industry.

Meaning I understood many of the basic principles that make the software industry different from regular ones (zero marginal cost for software products) but I hadn't really grasped many of the economic implications.

It was cool learning about all the different marketing and monetizing strategies.
It's something that I had never really thought about.
Sep 08, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this book primarily because it was, well, free, and because Chris Anderson is a well known author due to The Long Tail (which I never read but heard a lot about). In the introduction he describes how as he researched the book he encountered two different reactions to it - the younger crowd (under-30 I think it was) thought that the ideas were basically self-evident while the older crowd thought that there was no such thing as free and that there is no way you could build a business model ...more
Oct 11, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
Obviously this is written by someone who barely passed Econ 101 or Media/Marketing History core coursework for his bach's degree. Its a shame that so few journalist today have received a decent classical education in order to understand what is research, what is analysis and what is valuable literature. I almost expect to find a "free" copy of this book in the waiting room when I go in for my very costly root canal. This book tries to convince you not to fear the free. If you just came off readi ...more
Manas Vyas
Sep 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kinddle
Its is one of the most relevant books in present time as it reflects current and future style of business.

It is published in 2009 but still very significant in current times.

It is a must read and its freely available in soft format on net
Sarah Villalobos
This was one of the most interesting books I have read in a while that makes one consider advantages in marketability. I appreciated the historical references and have enjoyed telling people about these stories, especially Jello. Definitely a must-read.
Joseph Schwabauer
Loved this book. Some of the ideas may seem self-evident but taken as a whole, Anderson is pointing out some very relevant and often looked-over economics of the digital age. Highly recommend it for anyone interested in marketing.
K.M. Weiland
Apr 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Breezy, accessible, and generous. I came away with a truckload of new ideas and some interesting new viewpoints about Internet economics.
Alexander Fitzgerald
Free: The Future of a Radical Price is an enjoyable listen on Audible. It's a great value at the sticker price of $0.00. Chris Anderson does a great job of covering the history of free offerings to generate business. He also covers all the ways we take advantage of free services today without a second thought.

It was a fascinating take on the economics of specific business models. For a business owner, there were a few great ideas interspersed throughout the text. There were also a number of exa
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book and even a better price... Free! Chris Anderson does a great job explaining multiple ways to make money by giving away products/services for free. He does an even better job explaining the difference between giving it away and charging $0.01.

While reading this book, I came up with several ideas to give away products & services and hopefully increase market share and profits. Unfortunately, due to conventional thinking, pulling the trigger on these ideas may be tough. However, I would
Emily Ross
This was a pretty good book detailing a business method to increase profits; as much of an oxymoron as it seems, to increase business profits, give some products away for free (but only small amounts or some loss making products). This was obviously an example, as this audiobook was free on Audible.
That being said, this is a well known tactic so devoting an entire book to explaining it seemed pretty pointless.
Jerry Yoakum
Jan 07, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lot of good ideas and points made but the book is really showing its age. Hopefully Chris Anderson will release an updated edition.
May 08, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Posted on my book blog.

I bought this book hoping it would help me understand a little better the economics of the internet world. There's no doubt that the internet was built around the concept of Free, but like with every other topic I'm interested in, I missed reading a systematic study about what (if anything) had changed, and how. This book does a decent job at it, but it wasn't perfect.

It gives a historical account of Free, the different meanings it can have, and how people react to it. It
The great clash documented in this book is between the atom economy, which is in the business of selling stuff, such as food, clothing, cars, CDs and the byte economy, which is the business of selling knowledge, image, access and convenience through products that have no physical presence.

As a late-stage baby boomer myself, I have had my own difficulties wrapping my brain around ways of thinking that come naturally to the generation that has never known a non-digital world. How to proceed with
Jul 10, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
I'm almost finished with the book (note: the free Kindle version seems to have a lot of typographical errors) and have highlighted some of the thought-provoking quotes. FREE: The Future of a Radical Price It's a bit stodgy and slow to read -- however, the author writes about behavorial economics as it relates to "free" and I think that big business would find this book compelling.
Only thirty-two of the Top 100 companies today make things you can hold, from aerospace and motor vehicles to chemica
May 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 might be dry, it's explored in a very interesting way in this book.

The book starts by discussing free products and services that have been around for a long time, such as "buy one get one free" deals at stores. The author discusses the psychology of receiving things for free -- a topic that is fascinati
Tom Schulte
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel we may be decades away from truly realizing the economic changes caused by digitization changes the way music other media as well as software, games, etc. are distributed and marketed. Even though this book is a decade old, I feel it is still insightful how Anderson from his vantage as Editor-in-Chief of Wired magazine, a position he took in 2001, sees the history and landscape. Obviously billions are being made on free (Google, etc.) and billions lost (newspapers, artists and record labe ...more
Jul 17, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to Chris Anderson narrate this book for free (he made the MP3s available on his website), which made my commutes fly by. And I guess I'm proving him right by writing this review, but I can't help notice that I'm not buying a copy of his book now, whereas I otherwise would have. But Anderson's larger point is that digital goods inexorably fall to free, so it's time to get over it and use it to your advantage. As in The Long Tail, he does a good job of laying out the phenomena, explaini ...more
Majid Alfifi
Mar 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author talks about free business models and how they work such as Google free services that make money from ads. I would suppose the book will be very useful to those who want to make start-ups as it should enlighten them of what business model they should follow. It's also useful but to a lesser extent to those who just want to know how several so-called "free" services make money. Some of the author's sayings I still remember :) (every new abundance makes a new scarcity) so a business mode ...more
Jan 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 here. Not really a "how to" book, but more of a history of the free price point.

There is good coverage of the different meanings of "free", including buy-one-get-one-free, free with purchase, free basic versions that have paid premium versions, and many others. There is great information about how o
Aug 04, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Doesn't seem to say anything I haven't already read on Wikipedia and various news stories/blog posts. This book doesn't contain any special knowledge from the author and appears to be completely sourced from the internet. The free research part part goes along with his thesis I suppose, but it also means that this book is something anybody who spends a lot of time online could have produced today, given an editor and 40 hours a week to work on it.

If you like reading blogs and wished you could re
Jan 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is definitely the best book I have read in a LONG time! I didn't want it to end!

Unless you have been living in a cave for the past two decades, you are well aware that the business models of several different industries have gone through a dramatic change. Chris goes into detail and presents it in a very interesting way. Not just the ones we have heard the most about, like how music piracy has decimated the music labels income or how Craigslist has taken over the newspaper's classified ad
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Chris Anderson was named in April 2007 to the "Time 100," the newsmagazine's list of the 100 men and women whose power, talent or moral example is transforming the world. He is Editor-in-Chief of Wired magazine, a position he took in 2001, and he has led the magazine to six National Magazine Award nominations, winning the prestigious top prize for General Excellence in 2005 and 2007. He is the aut ...more

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When people really love a book, when they feel a book is right for them, enough people still want the physical form, the classic form of the book...
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“But our tendency to give scarcity more attention than abundance has caused us to ignore the many examples of abundance that have arisen in our own lifetime, like corn, for starters. The problem is that once something becomes abundant, we tend to ignore it,” 0 likes
“But when you want to mark a number on an abacus, what do you do if there are no stones in a column? The number 60 is one wedge in the sixties column and no wedges in the ones column. How do you write “no wedges”? The Babylonians needed a placeholder that represented nothing. They had to, in effect, invent zero. And so they created a new character, with no value, to signify an empty column. They denoted it with two slanted wedges.” 0 likes
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