The one-sentence summary

The Internet has turned traditional economics upside down by making many things free, so look carefully at your reputation and the time you demand from your customers.


  • FREEOld economic certainties are being undermined by a growing flood of free goods. This has become possible because production and distribution costs in many sectors have plummeted to unthinkable levels.
  • The flexibility of the online world allows producers to trade ever more creatively, offering items for free to make real or perceived gains elsewhere.
  • As an increasing number of things become freely available, our decisions to make use of them are determined by the popular reputation of what’s on offer and the time we have available for it.
  • In the future when we talk of the money economy, we will really be talking about the reputation and time economy.
  • The loss leader concept is giving away one thing to get another: the internet has taken this to a new level.
  • The economics of atoms is based on tangible items. The economics of bits is based on storage space and is intangible, leading to ‘freeconomics’.
  • There are three prices: something, nothing (free) and less than nothing – this is negative price, where you get paid to use a product. There is a gym in Denmark where you pay nothing as long as you go at least once a week.


  • Compare with Seth Godin’s Unleashing the Ideavirus: 20 years ago the top 100 companies either dug something out of the ground or turned a natural resource into something you could hold. This is now only 32 – the others sell ideas.
  • The demand you get at a price of zero is many times higher than at a very low price – the ‘penny gap’ identified by Kopelman.
  • Modern business models should: 1. Build a community around free information. 2. Use it to design something that people want. 3. Let those with more money buy more polished versions of the product. 4. Keep repeating the process.
  • Learning curve was invented by Ebbinghaus in c.19 to describe improvements when people memorised tasks over many repetitions.
  • Information wants to be free: 1. Access to computers should be unlimited. 2. All information should be free. 3. Mistrust authority. 4. Computers can change your life for the better.

  • Ten principles of Abundance Thinking:
  1. If it’s digital, sooner or later it’s going to be free.
  2. Atoms would like to be free too.
  3. You can’t stop Free.
  4. You can make money from Free.
  5. Redefine your market.
  6. Round down.
  7. Sooner or later you will compete with Free.
  8. Embrace waste.
  9. Free makes other things more valuable.
  10. Manage for abundance, not scarcity.


  • Not much. There is much to ponder here about modern markets.