The Future of Content

Late last week, we fea­tured the free audio and text ver­sions of Chris Ander­son­’s new book, Free: The Future of a Rad­i­cal Price. Today, we high­light a con­ver­sa­tion that recent­ly took place at The Aspen Insti­tute’s Ideas Fes­ti­val, and it focus­es on a sim­i­lar ques­tion, real­ly the main ques­tion pre­oc­cu­py­ing many busi­ness lead­ers these days : How to make mon­ey in an era when con­sumers expect infor­ma­tion-based prod­ucts (books, news­pa­pers, etc.) to be free. The talk is mod­er­at­ed by James Fal­lows, and fea­tures Josh Tyrang­iel (man­ag­ing edi­tor of, Priscil­la Painton (edi­tor-in-chief of the Simon & Schus­ter adult trade imprint), Bob Pittman (for­mer CEO of MTV Net­works, AOL Net­works), and Deirdre Stan­ley (exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and gen­er­al coun­sel for Thom­son Reuters). It runs an hour plus.

Music Gets Back at the Man

Bril­liant­ly done. If only we could all respond to cor­po­rate shenani­gans this art­ful­ly…

(PS It turns out that, once this video went viral, Unit­ed had some sec­ond thoughts. More here.)

via Andrew Sul­li­van

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Update: How to Get “Free” Anywhere

Ok, sor­ry to bela­bor this. Ear­li­er today, I men­tioned that you could down­load the audio­book of Chris Ander­son­’s Free: The Future of a Rad­i­cal Price at Audi­ble for no cost. It turns out that the Audi­ble offer isn’t avail­able to a world­wide audi­ence. It may just be avail­able to US res­i­dents. The good news is that I pinged Chris Ander­son on Twit­ter, and asked if there’s a uni­ver­sal ver­sion out there. And he kind­ly point­ed me in the right direc­tion. Here’s the deal: you can get a uni­ver­sal­ly free ver­sion over on Wired’s web­site. The page is here, and the zip file is here. Hope that helps.

Note: I’ve added Ander­son­’s zip file to our col­lec­tion of Free Audio Books. There, I’ve also recent­ly added a cou­ple of relat­ed works: Lawrence Lessig’s Free Cul­ture and Cory Doc­torow’s Con­tent: Select­ed Essays on Tech­nol­o­gy, Cre­ativ­i­ty, Copy­right and the Future of the Future . You can find them housed under Non-Fic­tion.

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Now Download Free Audiobook of Chris Anderson’s “Free”

A quick update: Yes­ter­day, I men­tioned that you can grab on Google Books and Scribd a free e‑book of Chris Ander­son­’s lat­est work, Free: The Future of a Rad­i­cal Price. Today, I dis­cov­ered that you can also down­load an audio­book ver­sion of Free over at It will cost you noth­ing. But you will need to reg­is­ter with Audi­ble, pro­vid­ing name, email, user­name, etc.  If you find that you live in a geo­graph­i­cal mar­ket that Audi­ble won’t serve, then you can down­load a uni­ver­sal­ly free ver­sion at’s web site. The page is here, and the zip file is here.

Sep­a­rate­ly, if  you start a 14 day free tri­al with Audi­ble, you can down­load two free audio books. This will give you access to many cur­rent best­sellers (Mal­colm Glad­well, David Sedaris, Barack Oba­ma, etc.). Whether you stick with the mem­ber­ship (as I did), or can­cel, you can keep the free books. Get more details here.

Last­ly, if you want many oth­er free audio­books, check out our big col­lec­tion of clas­sics.

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Free e‑Book of Chris Anderson’s “Free”

Chris Ander­son, the Wired Mag­a­zine Edi­tor who is best known for The Long Tail, has pub­lished his lat­est book, Free: The Future of a Rad­i­cal Price. You can buy it on Ama­zon, or read a free ver­sion on Scribd. As you may know, this book has already gen­er­at­ed some con­tro­ver­sy. To begin with, Ander­son has had to answer charges that he pla­gia­rized mate­r­i­al from Wikipedia. And then Mal­colm Glad­well (the author of Out­liers, The Tip­ping Point and Blink) gives Free a rough review in The New York­er.

PS You can now down­load an audio ver­sion as a free zip file here.

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View from the Bookstore Shelf

I’m proud to say my first nov­el, JACK WAKES UP, is avail­able in hun­dreds of book­stores nationwide—Barnes & Nobles, Bor­ders, Inde­pen­dent Book­sellers, and most-like­ly the store clos­est to you. Three Rivers Press (Ran­dom House) has sent out 6,000 copies of the book for peo­ple to buy.

So now what? And how does it feel?

Well, appar­ent­ly, I keep blog­ging, pod­cast­ing, and doing my damn­d­est to get the book to sell. That’s fine with me. I’m com­fort­able in the social media/Web 2.0 space and I can tweet my head off and Face­book-share with the best of them. But is this the nir­vana I’ve pined for, worked hard toward and wait­ed to achieve? In a word: No.

My main point is this: as writ­ers we bet­ter enjoy the climb as we’re going up the moun­tain; the process has to be enjoy­able. For me, this hap­pened when I built an audi­ence by pod­cast­ing my fic­tion as free, seri­al­ized audio­books. Once I devel­oped a rela­tion­ship with fans, I had the feel of being a real writer, a suc­cess, way before my book ever hit a sin­gle store or shelf.

Why was that good? Because the old mod­el toward writ­ing suc­cess (get­ting fans by find­ing read­ers in stores, in print) takes a very, very long time. Even for the luck­i­est of us—and I now count myself among these (see para­graph one)—this takes mul­ti­ple books and at least a few years after your first major-mar­ket pub­li­ca­tion. I know many of us come to writ­ing for what it gives us in our rooms, the lit­tle vac­u­ums in which we work, but in all hon­esty it just feels bet­ter when you know there are peo­ple who actu­al­ly want to read what you’re work­ing on—especially peo­ple who aren’t relat­ed to you or going to cri­tique you. Let’s just accept that. It doesn’t make us bad writ­ers to admit we want read­ers. (more…)

McNamara & The Fog of War

Robert McNa­ma­ra, the archi­tect of the failed Viet­nam War, died ear­li­er this week. He was a major force on the Amer­i­can polit­i­cal scene through­out the 1960s. Then, he re-emerged in 2004, when Errol Mor­ris released The Fog of War, an Oscar-win­ning doc­u­men­tary that fea­tures McNa­ma­ra look­ing back on his career and high­light­ing the lessons learned from the Viet­nam expe­ri­ence.  You can watch the film above. (Admit­ted­ly the film qual­i­ty is not the best.) Or you can buy it here.

In the mean­time, a quick fac­toid: After McNa­ma­ra left the John­son admin­is­tra­tion under a fair amount of dis­grace, he was appoint­ed to lead The World Bank. Fast for­ward to 2005, and we have Paul Wol­fowitz, a key archi­tect of the Iraq War, leav­ing the Dept. of Defense also under dis­grace and get­ting to lead The World Bank. Now we know where our next mil­i­tary bun­gler will go and save some face…

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Dominic West (aka Jimmy McNulty) Reads Jane Austen

If you’ve watched The Wire, you know him as Jim­my McNul­ty, the smart, booz­ing Bal­ti­more cop that likes an occa­sion­al romp and goes rogue here and there. Now, here’s your chance to see anoth­er side of Dominic, the side that’s more at home, at least geo­graph­i­cal­ly speak­ing. Here we have, as Ed tells us, the British actor, an Eton prod­uct, “read­ing Pride and Prej­u­dice (he’s a first-rate read­er) and then smirk­ing before he game­ly sips some Carte Noire cof­fee.” Watch it here, and thanks Ed for the tip.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Bill Moy­ers with The Wire’s David Simon

The Cre­ator of the Wire on Amer­i­can Urban Decline

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.