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The author of The Long Tail unveils his radical vision of the new economy

About the Author

Chris Anderson is Editor-in-Chief of Wired magazine, a position he took in 2001. Since then he has led the magazine to nine National Magazine Award nominations, winning the top prize for General Excellence in 2005, 2007 and 2009. AdAge magazine named him Editor of the Year in 2005. Previously he was at The Economist, and Nature and Science magazines. He is the author of the internationally acclaimed The Long Tail, which was shortlisted for the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award in 2006 and won the Loeb Award for best business book in 2007. He lives in Northern California with his wife and five children.


While the best things in life may be free, a business model based on giving stuff away seems a little crazy. But Anderson (editor in chief, Wired), who made a big splash with The Long Tail, tells us that this business model is already here. In The Long Tail, he showed how online businesses were making good by selling less of more, that is, by selling a huge range of niche or low-volume products that added up to big bucks. Here he demonstrates that the concept of making money by giving things away has already taken hold in the digital world. Verdict With explanations of basic economic principles like supply and demand and an analysis of the differences between products in the physical world and those in the digital world, Anderson makes the Free premise sound quite reasonable. Lots of companies are making lots of money from "free." Google and Yahoo, for instance, have some of the biggest computer server complexes in the world, yet they let us use their email, news, and search services every day. While this book may not be free, it will generate interest among both academic and general readers.-Carol J. Elsen, Univ. of Wisconsin, Whitewater Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

"Turns traditional economics upside down" * Guardian *
"Even if you're a freesheet-reading Spotify user, this is the best GBP18.99 you'll ever spend" * GQ *
"An insightful, steady and scrupulous analysis" * Financial Times *
"There are many books about the workings of the new economy, but Anderson ... [is] ... one of the most reliable and skilful guides. Free is worth the money" * Management Today *
"An enjoyable jaunt through business land" * Daily Telegraph *

In the digital marketplace, the most effective price is no price at all, argues Anderson (The Long Tail). He illustrates how savvy businesses are raking it in with indirect routes from product to revenue with such models as cross-subsidies (giving away a DVR to sell cable service) and freemiums (offering Flickr for free while selling the superior FlickrPro to serious users). New media models have allowed successes like Obama's campaign "billboards" on Xbox Live, Webkinz dolls and Radiohead's name-your-own-price experiment with its latest album. A generational and global shift is at play-those below 30 won't pay for information, knowing it will be available somewhere for free, and in China, piracy accounts for about 95% of music consumption-to the delight of artists and labels, who profit off free publicity through concerts and merchandising. Anderson provides a thorough overview of the history of pricing and commerce, the "mental transaction costs" that differentiate zero and any other price into two entirely different markets, the psychology of digital piracy and the open-source war between Microsoft and Linux. As in Anderson's previous book, the thought-provoking material is matched by a delivery that is nothing short of scintillating. (July) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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