Will all books soon be free? Wired editor-in-chief thinks so

Review: “Free: The Future of a Radical Price” by Chris Anderson
By Jessica Roytoday9 a.m.

Despite the fact that Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson’s latest book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price, wasn’t released until this week, it has still managed to generate much pre-publication discussion about the future of the digital economy. Anderson found himself enmeshed in a pre-publication plagiarism scandal two weeks ago when the Virginia Quarterly Review found that some passages in the book directly matched Wikipedia entries. (Anderson quickly apologized, blaming inaccurate citing and overall carelessness.)

Then, of course, there’s the actual content of the book, which has been received by journalists and business-minded folks in decidedly polarizing ways. Malcolm Gladwell unleashed a scathing review of Free in last week’s New Yorker, scolding Anderson for adhering to the freeconomy as an “iron law” and writing, “The only iron law here is the one too obvious to write a book about, which is that the digital age has so transformed the ways in which things are made and sold that there are no iron laws.” (Plenty of responses followed.)

But for Anderson, Free is indeed the ultimate destiny of our economy. “Sooner or later every company is going to have to figure out how to use Free or compete with Free, one way or another,” he writes in the beginning of the book. This assertion will probably look depressingly familiar to journalists who’ve watched their traditional business models fall apart in the wild west of the web, where “free” is the gold standard.  Read more

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