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Chris, It all makes sense to me, charge for the physical and give away the digital – sort of. Firstly, you have the argument for possession. It’s a physical asset with a monetary value driven by the cost of production, distribution and presentation – along with the consumers’ willingness to pay. Second you have the argument for exposure. A novel idea attracts headlines, which in turn gather eyeballs which on balance leads to sales. It’s the fact you’re doing it, and on one else is (not quite true, I know) which give the idea its lilt. Third, you have the argument for experimentation. Those who wouldn’t or couldn’t buy the book but happy to consume the content through other means, thus not depriving you of sales but increasing your fan base, right? All three are debatable and, of course, extracting the ‘net effect’ is the key. For whom? The publisher, I guess. This is why I say ‘sort of’ – should the entire business go down this route, wouldn’t advances (investment) offered by publishers decline? In addition, if we all went down this route, wouldn’t the novelty of the concept be eroded - and with it the exposure-effect that it once gained? This would remove positive effects of point two – or at least dilute them considerably. Finally, if a secondary market based around ‘free’ takes hold, surely that would put pressure on the primary (physical) market as cross-elasticity’s kick in. Reducing the margin on books overall – and forgoing potential value as perceived by the consumer. All these points are, admittedly, jumping the gun – but I like throwing them out there to stress the caution of your bold working title. Your last book was truly inspirational to me, but its title – with its focus on demand, not supply - let you down, even you admitted that. It’s really important you get this ‘working title’ nailed down correctly. My earlier post to the original idea stressed the importance of cross-subsidisation. To this, add supply chain too. The UK’s NHS service is free at the point of delivery – it sure ain’t free though. Many thanks and best of luck with this project, and thanks for blogging your way to a sequel too – its gonna be a trip! Will Page, Economist
Toggle Commented Jun 5, 2007 on Three things about "FREE" at The Long Tail
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Chris, Personally, I'm concerned that the 'overall' concept could be picked apart my exposing cross subsidisation within the media model. Sure, price is falling. It's lost its share of wallett (demand) and there is no rival aspect to conumption (supply). My own work and explained this in greater detail, but that does not imply that the word FREE is correct. When you sign up to a cell phone talk package and the handset in thrown in for free, you know Nokia got paid further upstream. But when you sign up to an ISP and you access all that media content for free, you NEED to know there is a disconnect as compensation is not taking place. By the time you get your book published, that disconnet might have been closed with new licensing schemes. It could be free at the front end, but value will be captured. Another example - MTV built its business model around FREE music. But if you were to claim that as evidence, you would have shot yourself in the foot. MTV have faced legal battles since day one and are now gradually coming to the table to accept that music should be values and copyright holders should be compensated. The same thing is happening with Myspace - a knee jerk reaction would suggest you could say that its FREE too, except there's a multimillion pound ad model and its sharing none of the spoils. Indeed, compare the Myspace success story with the Yahoo moderate story - Yahoo went legal first, traction second. Myspace was traction first, legal possibly second. People might smirk at Yahoo lagging behind, but at least they did it legit. My point - Its easy to make money out of FREE by not doing it legit. Chris, cross-subsidisation is rampant, more so that you might initally think. Perhaps Chapter One should begin with the story of RCA who entered the music industry NOT to sell music (as it was FREE on the radio) but to sell Radio Muisc Boxes. The final chapter could finish with Apple, who do put a price on music, but who's iPod is dominated by content that was FREE in some form (or at least involved no marginal cost to upload). Look forward to the next blog and its great to be able to post on here again. Will Page
Toggle Commented May 26, 2007 on My Next Book: "FREE" at The Long Tail
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