So I was at a reception the other day, talking to someone about the internet and the free/gift economy and how it’s the inevitable future of a lot of industries, including journalism. The discussion invariably turned to Chris Anderson’s Free: The Future of a Radical Price and I talked up the book and Anderson’s theories.
“So you liked the book, then?” asked my colleague.
“No, not really.” I said, after a pause.
Considering my enthusiasm over Anderson’s last book, The Long Tail, and my own defense of the free/gift economy model on this very blog, my cool reception to “Free” surprised the hell out of me, too.
With all the hype and debate surrounding Chris Anderson’s book, months before it was even released, it’s no wonder that the backlash started less than a week after it officially hit bookstores. Earlier this year, the influential Wired editor and author of The Long Tail brought his thesis of giving products away as marketing strategy to South by Southwest and was greeted with as much skepticism as enthusiasm from attendees (myself included). So Malcolm Gladwell’s review of the book in the New Yorker summed up a lot of the overall criticism of the book, even before it was released: