There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Listened to a podcast featuring Chris Anderson of Wired Magazine on the IT
Conversations network
last night while out walking.

His talk centred around his motivation and proposed proposed model for giving away his next book for free.

This was a pretty painless 30 minutes for a quick whip around of the notions of free that we are all familiar with, but have not maybe considered for our own businesses.

Yet everyone is familiar with the low cost printer where you pay premium for the replacement ink; or the cheap flight where you pay for onboard entertainment and refreshment; or most annoying of all, the cheap “razor system” with the expensive blades.

Most of the models that Anderson discusses not surprisingly, were based around publishing and books, with the ideas and statistics being particularly interesting. For example, making selected chapters available in PDF format, giving away audio versions, etc;

An example was given from Make Magazine where downloadable instructions were getting something like 5.7% click-thru rates on embedded advertisements. Impressive.

So what is the motivation for giving stuff away for free? Of course it has to be based on selling the customer something else. Free is the way to maximise the audience – you give it away in the expectation that you will be able to sell other products or services. Anderson’s own expectation is very simple – with free books, he believes he will sell more speaking events.

The link to the show notes and podcast are here – i really like his take on what makes books indispensable –

“excellent battery life, fanstasic sceen resolution, portable, looks good on your shelf and easy to flip through”

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