Chris Anderson’s new book, Free, is available on Scribd for free for a limited time. It is a great promotional strategy for the paper and e-book editions of the book, but it doesn’t answer the question about how to make “free” a sustainable price. The book ventures to answer the question, though I haven’t found substantive answers other than the idea that, once you have an audience, it can be milked. The limited free access on Scribd may be enough to convert free readers to paying readers, so that they can actually put the text to use, but beyond the promotional value of the short-lived giveaway, it is hard to see what changed. That would make Free a temporary price, not the inevitable answer to building great businesses.
Meghan Keane reports that Anderson answers the tough question with: “Give away the book. And pray.”
Great, a faith-based solution for publishing is exactly what we need.