3 posts categorized "Books I've Read"

02/19/2010

Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson

free future of a radical price Chris Anderson book cover art

Chris Anderson - Free: The Future of a Radical Price

I recently completed Chris Anderson's Free: The Future of a Radical Price in fragmented bits of reading. It's a great book for thinking one's way into the implications of free as a price and such related concepts as freemium pricing strategies.

At the same time, it's a rather frustrating book if evaluated from an academic perspective with few proper citations and open-ended, uncited use of chunks of Wikipedia and other writers' content!

It's a rare book that merits serious consideration after such excesses have been exposed but Free is just that kind of book. Of particular relevance for this blog, studying ways to monetize free content is very much on the minds of open access advocates searching for sustainable business models. Free offers a great brainstorming tool with notes from related efforts including open source software.

"Free use but paid via other means" is also a key pricing strategies for libraries supported by taxes, donations, student fees and the like. We don't pay each time we take out the books but we or other folks like us pay by other means. Open access business models often take similar routes.

The interrelationship of free web content and open access publishing also was explored in the release of free editions of Free for limited time in digital formats.

So, yes, I'm recommending Chris Anderson's Free: The Future of a Radical Price with reservations because, if taken for what it's worth, it's quite a good book!

Chris Anderson blogs or blogged at The Long Tail where you can currently find a downloadable list of "notes and sources for the book" Free.

Wired Magazine:
Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business

02/18/2010

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen The Black Dossier cover art

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier

I originally checked out The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier due to news about an attempt at censorship but quickly came to appreciate the book itself. The combination of a graphic novel in which a "Black Dossier" is a key element of the plot and is included in the book itself in the form of various documents mixed into the pages of the illustrated tale is thought provoking.

In fact, this work got me thinking quite a bit about the relationship of such hybrid works to various electronic offerings. For example, ereaders and such devices are always more complicated than they at first appear, acquiring extra little bits and pieces of equipment. Oddly enough, The Black Dossier includes a 3D section requiring an extra bit of equipment in the form of 3D glasses!

The mix of texts mean that readers drawn in by a graphic novel may not want to read every last page just as a documentary on DVD may acquire more viewers than related documents on an accompanying DVD-ROM.

One clear difference is the fully integrated nature of The Black Dossier, a book that includes all its elements in one package. A reader might become attached to such a book in a different manner than one might become attached to an ebook one accesses on an ereader. Perhaps the ereader will get all the future love once reserved for physical books themselves.

But thinking about The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier also inspired a new blog category, Books I've Read, in order to separate the discussions on particular books and the changing nature and concept of the book, until now jammed together in Books.

01/24/2010

Cormac McCarthy and The End of The Road

Cormac McCarthy - The Road book cover art

Cormac McCarthy - The Road

I finished reading Cormac McCarthy's The Road a couple of days ago and, man, that was an intense book. Just one of those acts of perfection one is lucky enough to encounter in life every now and then. It's my first novel by McCarthy and I look forward to reading more.

I'm a lifetime fan of post-apocalyptic science fiction going back to my youth and my love of books like Robinson Crusoe and The Swiss Family Robinson are closely related. I wouldn't call this science fiction though I think it would be interesting to think through the implications of considering The Road a work of science fiction.

In any case, this is some sparse, stark writing that dropped me into a very bleak world that really made me question why the characters were choosing to continue to live. Though I've seen some hard times, obviously nothing as severe as the characters in The Road, I've never seriously questioned my will to live. In The Road, such a desire became almost inexplicable.

I did not think that there was a believable ending that could redeem this tale in a manner that reaffirmed the characters' will to live until I read it. I had some thoughts in mind but it was all Hollywood junk. I still can't believe McCarthy pulled it off so organically and believably. However, I've read other reviews by disappointed readers so, maybe I'm just weird!

Nevertheless, I was grateful for that ending. And for this marvelous book.

Thank you, Cormac McCarthy.

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