Making money off free content, Boomerang edition

By Felix Salmon
October 3, 2011
Boomerang, is listed at $25.95, although you can get it for $15.04 at Amazon, or just $10.39 for the Kindle version. (It's $12.99 on iBooks.)

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Michael Lewis’s new book, Boomerang, is listed at $25.95, although you can get it for $15.04 at Amazon, or just $10.39 for the Kindle version. (It’s $12.99 on iBooks.)

These are entirely reasonable prices to pay for a new book by Michael Lewis. But here’s the thing: the entire book, with the exception of a very short introduction, is available for free on the web. In its entirety, the book comprises Lewis’s Vanity Fair pieces on Iceland; Greece; Ireland; Germany; and California. That’s it. Follow those links, print them out or Instapaper them, and you have Boomerang right there. The hardback doesn’t even come with an index.

Still, that hasn’t stopped the Kindle edition of Boomerang from reaching #1 on the Amazon nonfiction bestseller list, with the hardback at #2.

All of which is further proof, if proof be needed, that giving your stuff away for free can be the best way of selling it for significant sums of money. David Pogue has worked this out; Adam Mansbach turned a children’s book into a money machine the same way.

Which leaves only one question: What exactly does Boomerang, the title, mean? I asked Norton; they said they’d get back to me.

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