9 September 2009 • 7:00 am

Making Money From Giving Things Away

free_cover_200After a bit of a slog, I am now done reading Free: The Future of A Radical Price (Hyperion; $26.99), by Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired magazine. You may have heard of Anderson from his 2006 bestseller, The Long Tail. Anderson’s book hit my radar screen from several directions at once over the summer, including an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air (listen for free) with one of my favorite interviewers, Terry Gross, and a review in the New Yorker (read it for free) by one of my favorite authors, Malcolm Gladwell. When Gross and Gladwell are both talking about the same thing, it is hard for me to resist. So in keeping with the spirit of the topic, I used an old model of free, and got the book from our local public library. Free is also available as an abridged audio book for free (of course), online at   

Anderson offers an initially breezy, but eventually somewhat tedious journey through the concept of free. Even the word itself (which I swear must appear an average of ten times on each page) has to be parsed – free as in “freedom” and free as in “at no cost.” To ensure our comprehensive understanding of the phenomena of free, Anderson journeys from history into behavioral science, literature (science fiction), and pop culture.