Monday, August 10, 2009

Giving things away increases your traffic

Who says you need to charge for every dollar?

You can shell out nearly 30 bucks for Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired magazine and author of The Long Tail, or you can download the audiobook for free from publisher Hyperion's website or at It's available on Scribd, Google Books, Shortcovers and iTunes. All free, for varying lengths of time.

At the Hyperion site, you'll need to provide your e-mail address so it can send you information about its "other great books." The hope is that by giving you Free free, you'll become a paying customer for upcoming books.

Anderson skillfully makes the case that free is a business strategy here to stay and that increasingly, businesses will profit more from giving things away than by charging for them. "This new form of Free is based on the economics of bits, not atoms. It is a unique quality of the digital age that once something becomes software, it inevitably becomes free — in cost, certainly, and often in price."

In Free, he explores the evolution of the free economy, its various forms, how it works in industries from software to publishing to retailing, and where it's headed. He persistently drills home the point that "free" isn't just a marketing gimmick, such as the age-old game of offering free samples to lure in consumers.

Anderson kicks off his book with a dollop of free-marketing history — the tale of jiggly Jell-O gelatin. Invented in the late 1800s, it was "too foreign a food and too unknown a brand for turn-of-the-century consumers."

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