We Read It So You Don’t Have to: ‘Free’

Chris Anderson's free unpacks a paradox of the online market-place—people making money charging nothing. What was once just a marketing gimmick has morphed into the basis of a trillion-dollar economy. The key is the near-zero costs of selling online. Highlights:

In November 2008, Monty Python gave away popular clips on YouTube. By February its DVD sales were up 23,000 percent on Amazon. This is win-win "freeconomics": because some pay a premium, everyone gets to graze for nothing.

Consumers win, too. Economists say everything carries a cost—even if it's hidden or distributed—but the "cost" of online infotainment is so distributed that it's imperceptible.

Free logic reaches beyond the digital ghetto. Companies trafficking in ideas drop prices as the execution of said ideas gets more efficient. The cost of DNA sequencing, for instance, falls 50 percent every 1.9 years.

Generation Google has absorbed Free market dynamics the same way we absorb "Newtonian mechanics when we learn to catch a ball," Anderson says. So there's no going back: making money this way is the future.

Join the Discussion