The Free Economy

“Every industry that becomes digital, eventually becomes FREE” - Chris Anderson

Wired's cover story for March by editor Chris Anderson is well worth reading. Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business

I think it's interesting to note that public libraries have always operated on the "free" premise. But in a world where digital business models are also shifting to "free", I wonder what this mean for libraries? Can we compete by maintaining not-for-profit models and organizational structures? Or do we need to shift to (or invent) new models in order to be sustainable in an abundant and "free economy" ?

BTW: If you don't feel like reading the full article, you can get the highlights from Chris Anderson's 3 minute video.

Chris Anderson discusses "Free."

Video produced by Annaliza Savage and edited by Michael Lennon.

PS: Is anyone sensing a follow-up book to Anderson's best seller, The Long Tail?

PSS: Yup, I thought so. Post note at the end of the article "Chris Anderson is the editor in chief of Wired and author of The Long Tail. His next book, FREE, will be published in 2009 by Hyperion."


Sean Robinson said...

I am not buying what he is selling. The math does not work at the most fundamental level. The equation time = money is not going away anything soon. The best example is his new book, "Free". If he really believes in the gift economy I am sure that he would happy send me a copy. I of course will pay for the nominal cost of paper. This reminds me of the .com argument that stated that the old economic model was dead and we were dealing with a new economy. I am confident I will be able to buy his "Free" book at $19.95 from Amazon when it comes out and if I wait eighteen months I am sure I could buy if for $4.95 used. Well maybe he's right, that's almost free :-).

Anonymous said...


While I think you are correct about being able to find "Free" in a bookstore in the near future, I wouldn't be suprised if Mr. Anderson chooses to also release his book in a free digital format if the publisher allows him to just like Lawrence Lessig.

sowens said...

Hmm. Maybe he is counting on lots of library sales so the he becomes a self fulling profit (yes I meant that) - Free- to the masses who borrow it from us. I guess this concept is not getting to me because so many necessities are not free.

As far as libraries are concerned the only thing we have not tried is paying people to use us. Maybe that's our future - a library discover card -it pays to read.