The 5% Sweet Spot

Chris Anderson says his new book Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business will be unleashed – free- upon the world on July 6th. As popular as his first book The Long Tail was, I’m sure I’m not the only anxious to read his latest thoughts.

In the interview he had with Guy Kawaski, Anderson does say that he expects the free version of his book to spur print sales. Something many in the industry are watching, I know. How does a publisher make money at giving their products away for free? While I’m sure the book will contain nothing as useful or solid as the formula filled The Art and Science of Book Publishing, Anderson says

“If you can convert 5 percent of users to paid, you can cover your costs. Anything above that, and it becomes extremely popular.”

I haven’t started crunching the numbers yet, but that seems to assume a very slim overhead. But it gives us a starting point. Something for the industry to aim for or pass. We’ll see. Five percent it is.

One of these days I am going to have to make it to SXSW…. but until then, thank the internet gods for blogs and twitter.