I’m excited to announce that starting today, Google Books will offer free downloads of these and more than one million more public domain books in an additional format, EPUB. By adding support for EPUB downloads, we’re hoping to make these books more accessible by helping people around the world to find and read them in more places.
I don’t expect that to draw you in for a very exciting post. What I do want to share with you is that he believes that the future of commerce and business, especially over the Internet, is in giving things away for free. An article about this very subject was the cover story in Wired about a year ago, and Anderson is writing a book that will be out in July called, simply, Free.
Pay attention to this one, because it’s possibly very revolutionary and is likely to turn some heads. He thinks you should be giving stuff away in order to make money.
He’s not necessarily talking about the Gilette model, either:
Thanks to Gillette, the idea that you can make money by giving something away is no longer radical. But until recently, practically everything “free” was really just the result of what economists would call a cross-subsidy: You’d get one thing free if you bought another, or you’d get a product free only if you paid for a service.
As examples, he mentions that after experimenting with paid content, both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal are now free to read on the Web (excepting some information in WSJ). At the time of this writing, I can even browse NYT on my iPod touch, using an application they wrote that is also free to download.