paidContent - Anderson Sets His 'Free' Free, In Audio And Abridged Forms

This story was written by Robert Andrews.
Well, he had to practice what he’s preaching. Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson, whose Long Tail follow-up Free describes the freemium business model, is releasing versions of the title for free…

—UK publisher Random House, at the launch event last week and in an upcoming promo with BrandRepublic.com, is giving away free abridged paperback versions of the book.

Anderson says that’s “in association with Adobe” - the exact relationship there isn’t detailed but it’s basically subsidisation of the sort we’ll assume is dissected in the book when it hits shelves Tuesday. Anderson does say: “This special sponsored paperback edition is the entire book minus, if memory serves, the appendixes.”

—And European streaming music service du jour Spotify is hosting the three-hour audio book, narrated by Anderson, to both its free and premium UK users, saying Anderson “has had a great influence on Spotify ... The Long Tail, has been required reading in our office since day one”. The title may even be a new business line for the service as it looks to add enough value to its premium line-up that people will pay its 9.99-a-month ad-free subscription: “Were going to trial it, see what people think and who knows, maybe this is the start of something new for us.”

The real reason Free can be free, of course, is that - like The Long Tail and countless other concept books before it, Free is probably worth far more to Anderson than its 288 pages alone. A book can be allowed to pull in relatively little income if it’s viewed as an ongoing project - Free will raise Anderson’s profile higher, leading to lucrative speaking slots and who knows what other opportunities. In that way, it’s kind of a embodiment of the concept itself.

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By Robert Andrews