More free outlets for FREE

FREE, the latest book from Chris Anderson, is now available for free in Scribd.com, Audible.com, direct mp3 download (courtesy to Wired.com), Google Books, and seemingly more to come. The no-cost download of the book is an experiment of Chris’s own research and theory about the “freemium” business model, which is to make your products and services freely available to everybody, while trying to get revenue from other indirect means such as advertisement, premium pro accounts, and many other creative ways.

First, I want to relate this concept of giving away free items to the book Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. In his book, namely at Chapter 3 – The Cost of Zero Cost, and Chapter 13 – Beer and Free Lunches, Dan illustrated some interesting researches on human psychology and behavior towards free products and services.

  • the experience of getting free things is pleasurable.
  • there is less sense of lost ties to free things. We don’t feel sorry for abandoning them after using it for a while, or even not used them at all.
  • even if the free items are not completely satisfying, we tend to forgive and keep using it.

Also, as illustrated in Chris Anderson’s another book The Long Tail and many other similar books that describe the new Internet business ecology, we know that:

  • the cost of maintaining atoms, which physical products and services, is relatively higher
  • the cost of maintaining electronic bits and bytes, such as online banking services, book store, music store…etc, is getting cheaper and cheaper, at a rate of getting about halved every year. For example, the cost of maintaining Youtube at 2010 will be half as much as 2009.
  • the technique of offering products by scarcity is not ideal nowadays. With the advancement of digital storage, commercial tools and internet technology, we can serve a large amount of products digitally with abundance. We can serve niche markets without the concern of shelf space, physical storage, logistic cost and so on.

It will be fun to see how the traditional media reacts to this. Will they freak out? Will they accept and adopt the model? Will they try hard to resist the trend of openness and free, even though more and more evidence shows that it is inevitable?

Another interesting thought about the free release of FREE is translation. As a participant of TED open translation project, I am very interested to see, that how this free availability of the book would trigger a wave of internationalization, in an unimaginable speed and near-professional quality. Inspired by a post in The Global Voices Online“Japan: ‘Yoshiharu Habu and Modern Shogi’, an Open Translation Project” published in May, is it possible to reproduce the same voluntary translation movement?

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