Free: The Future of a Radical Price
Just a perhaps ironic observation re: Chris Anderson's new book FREE: The Future of a Radical Price.
Note: FREE "makes the compelling case that in many instances businesses can profit more from giving things away than they can by charging for them." - Source: Amazon.com.
Near the end of C.C. Chapman's interview of Chris Anderson in his great Managing the Gray podcast, Chris Anderson said that he was offering his latest book FREE for free in its digital forms (viewable online and unabridged audio).
And while the unabridged 6-hour audio would be no-cost, the abridged 3-hour audio would be sold for $7.49. Don't believe me? Well, it's stated on Chris Anderson's The Long Tail blog.
Reason: The shorter version is worth more because time is money and it saves people time. Saving time has "value".
Unabridged/Full Audio Book at Audible.com
So you can download the single 101 MB file in Audible's Format 4 (which uses MP3 compression), or in other formats if you prefer.
Cost: Your name, email address, and joining Audible.com for...free (you get the picture).
And you can go to Hyperion's site and download the "Abridged" audio book in 16 MP3 files totaling 136 MB.
Cost: Your email address and some time (which is money) to download all of the files.
DISCONNECT: But wasn't the "Abridged" audio supposed to be sold for $7.49?
Note: I'm no expert at audio compression, but my guess is that these files (totaling 136 MB) might actually be the "Unabridged" version (101 MB file at Audible.com which is supposed to be free). A quick sampling of the Prologue of each of these sounded the same to me.
- Prologue at Hyperion's site: "01_Prologue-Abridged.mp3" - 6057 KB
Question: Did the Publisher Get the Memo?
So if Audible.com and Hyperion's audio book versions are the same (unabridged), we have to wonder if Hyperion:
- Just made an error in labeling the audio book: "Abridged" vs. "Unabridged", even though "Abridged" is shown in the description as well as in the file name of all 16 files.
- Made an error in pricing the "Abridged" audio book for free instead of the intended $7.49. Or,
- ...drumroll, please...
- Just couldn't bear the thought of giving the book away for free unless it was "Abridged".
- In other words: So much value is usually attached to the full work for the full price, that simply giving away the full audio book for free may have been unacceptable/undoable for the publisher.
- Perhaps they simply couldn't bring themselves to give away the full book and label it as such.
- Even though the author felt the "Abridged" audio book was worth more.
- Unless of course, the publisher didn't read the book, but that would be impossible (and we're sure that's not the case)!
- Disclaimer: I haven't had time to read the book yet either, but from C.C. Chapman's interview with Chris Anderson, I'm pretty sure what his intention was/is, not to mention that it's stated on his The Long Tail blog.
- And if I missed the point on all of this, then my apologies in advance to everyone involved: Hyperion, Amazon, Chris Anderson (who we love!), C.C. Chapman (who we love!), etc. And if you're feeling this way, please see: The bullet point below as well as "The Bottom Line: Everyone Wins!" below...
- And realistically, Hyperion probably deserves huge "Kudos!" for offering 16 chapters (abridged or unabridged) for free online, given an industry that's probably more disposed to giving away one free chapter online. So, "Bravo Hyperion!"
Bottom Line: Everyone Wins!
And the funny thing is: It doesn't really matter because everyone wins.
Hyperion: "Your email will only be used to send you information about our other great books." So Hyperion gets some free marketing privileges.
Audible.com: Similarly, Audible gets some free marketing privileges, your free membership...and Audible Inc. is a subsidiary of Amazon.com. Hmmm...
Plus you need to download Audible's AudibleManager software to play Audible's files in their proprietary formats, so as users ("members") accumulate more audio book files over time, this will create switching costs a la Michael Porter's Five Forces so customers will be more likely to stick with Audible rather than switch to another audio book provider.
Amazon: See paragraph above and image of book above leading to Amazon's site.
Chris Anderson: Because his book is getting great publicity and we'll probably buy the dead-tree version anyway because it's easier to highlight and looks cooler when you carry it around (unless you have a Kindle 2...made my Amazon...of course). And we love Chris Anderson anyway!
- Steal This Book
The Biggest Loser...not! - Steal This Book by Abbie Hoffman
And unfortunately "The Biggest Loser" could have been Abbie Hoffman, author of Steal this Book, because he came before his time and he missed it by one word: "Free"...or did he?
Premise: While a free book is "a steal", stealing the book reduces your book sales to the point that you don't make any money (at least back in the day when there were only dead-tree books).
Reality: "Abbie Hoffman couldn't get anyone to publish Steal This Book --thirty publishers turned it down. When the book was released, bookstores wouldn't carry it. Newspapers, TV and radio all refused to run advertisements. But despite these setbacks, Steal This Book found its way on to the Best Seller list in 1971. ...The book sold more than quarter of a million copies between April and November 1971." - Source: Amazon.
"It's embarrassing you try to overthrow the government and you wind up on the Best Seller's List."
-- Abbie Hoffman - Source: Amazon.
"A driving force behind the social revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, Hoffman inspired a generation to challenge the status quo. — Studs Terkel"
- Source: Amazon.
Bottom Bottom Line: Social (Media) Revolution
So from one "social revolution" in the 1960's and 1970's...to a "social media revolution" in the 2000's (and who can argue with that term given what's been happening recently in Iran and Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook?).
Perhaps FREE (The Future of a Radical Price) is the Steal This Book of the 2000's? And with the current buzz re: FREE, it certainly seems to be.
And perhaps ironically, there's also a Kindle version of Steal This Book now, and interestingly the warning on Amazon's page states:
"Warning: The Publisher assumes no liability for damages arising from you trying ANYTHING mentioned in this book. The world of 2005 is far less tolerant than the world of 1971." - Source: Amazon.
And for publishing itself, it might end up that the concept of "Free" is a radical concept both before it's time, yet very effective, in giving some taste of a product (like the entire unabridged book or audio book!), and then upselling to something perceived to be of more value (abridged book that takes less time, or in a desirable format like Kindle, or the book in paper).
Free vs. One Cent
Marketing Over Coffee's podcast last week mentioned the concept of "Free vs. one cent" (e.g., Predictably Irrational) and having a "premium" version/strategy which people are willing to pay for like a physical book, DVD, consulting service, speaking engagement, etc. And yes, this may be a "tired and worn" concept now...but apparently it works all the way to the bank:
For example, using free eBooks etc. to promote listbuilding, email/ eNewsletter marketing, etc. (especially since email marketing is one of the most tried-and-true methods of internet marketing and social media marketing is still proving-out and establishing its business case).
MOC also quoted David Meerman Scott at Podcamp Boston as saying: "Free is where you start, not where you end"...because you can't eat attention.
So we'll see if the current buzz/attention re: FREE's marketing model helps us all put food on our tables. Great: now we can be "internet foodies" instead of "internet marketers".
Links to free versions of FREE: The Future of a Radical Price:
- Check with Chris Anderson's The Long Tail blog for updates to free releases of "FREE", e.g., coming soon: "free FREE on Kindle and other ebook readers, including the iPhone".
Transparency note: No affiliate links were used in the blog post above nor was any compensation of any kind received by the blog post author.
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