Now here's a Fast Company story that will surprise and delight! Adam Mansbach has written a humorous "children's book for adults" with the terrific title, "Go the F*** to Sleep." Mansbach wrote the story after experiencing the frustrations of trying to get his adorable two-year old daughter to sleep. All parents can relate! Mansbach's book hit #1 on the Amazon best-seller list this week, and it won't even be released for a few more weeks! How did this come to be? Well, a pirated copy in PDF form has been flying around the web. Tons of people have seen the story, and they found it very humorous. As a result, a ton of buzz has emerged about the book. That buzz has now driven the book to the top of Amazon's best-seller list. Here seems to be a case where a free version of a product has actually helped generate a ton of real revenue. Perhaps more publishers and media companies will derive lessons from this interesting case.
I'm sure Chris Anderson is smiling right now. Who is Chris Anderson? He's the best-selling author of two terrific books: The Long Tail and Free: The Future of a Radical Price. In the latter book, Anderson describes how companies can offer free products and services as part of their business model, and yet still derive solid profits for the firm as a whole. Mansbach's story reminds me of how important it is for all firms, especially media companies, to understand Anderson's compelling case for "free" business models.