Friday, February 26, 2010

Book Review: Free: The Future of A Radical Price

Here's a conundrum of the modern age: people are getting used to not paying for digital content.
You, as a businessperson, have to deal with this problem.

This is the subject of Chris Anderson's Free: Future of a Radical Price. This book discusses the various revenue models you may have to adopt.

Here's an excerpt from the New York Times review:

"More precisely, the marginal cost of digital products, or the cost of delivering one additional copy, is approaching zero. The fixed cost of producing the first copy, however, may be as high as ever. All those servers and transmission lines, as cheap as they may be per gigabyte, require large initial investments. The articles still have to be written, the songs recorded, the movies made. The crucial business question, then, is how you cover those fixed costs. As many an airline bankruptcy demonstrates, it can be extremely hard to survive in a business with high fixed costs, low marginal costs and relatively easy entry. As long as serving one new customer costs next to nothing, the competition to attract as many customers as possible will drive prices toward zero. And zero doesn't pay the bills.

The answer, Anderson argues, lies in cross-subsidies: "shifting money around from product to product, person to person, between now and later, or into nonmonetary markets and back out again." Most obviously, online advertisers can subsidize content by paying for eyeballs or, in some cases, for detailed information on potential consumers. Less familiar is the "freemium" strategy, in which a site like Flickr offers one package of services free but charges for an ad-free package with more features, allowing a small fraction of users to subsidize the rest."

We just ordered our copy. It'll be here anyday. Check out is free.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Black Market

The black market shows up as the informal sector - economics in our online book catalog. Good articles on this subject can be found in our Business Source Complete or other business databases.

If you are doing a search on this topic, don't forget to search informal economy (or some derivation) as a keyword.

The "informal economy" is a fact of life for most of humanity. There are different reasons you might have a black market. The "informal" economy more accurately reflects demand (either with more expensive or cheaper goods), circumvents currency regulations, inflexible working regulations, or a number of other reasons depending on the context.

I'm just preparing Americans for a possible world that they know little of: currency controls, currency devaluation, how to negotiate the black market, etc...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Legal Treatises

Legal Treatises are great summaries of an area of law - property rights, divorce, contracts and so on. They're vital for getting an overview understanding of a legal area and all of its relevant historical legal decisions, concepts, definitions, rules and components.

This link takes you to all our treatises, but many of the treatises are about business subjects - bankruptcy, contracts and on and on.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Taxes By State

Didja know that Texas took in about $92.4 million from hunting and fishing licenses last year?

Find out how the amount of taxes collected on gasoline, estates, cigarettes, scuba suits and chocolate petit fours. Yes, it's detailed by state, so it's pretty interesting.
Oh, do I have fun with the allusions in these images.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Underwater Mortgages in Austin and Texas

Good question today: How many home mortgages in the Austin area are underwater (i.e. people owe more than the house is worth)?

The standard figures, from an organization called American CoreLogic, has come up with a report that is cited by several newspapers and business newspapers.

It includes the top 50 metropolitan areas by underwater status.

I would have put the report up in PDF form, but you must register for free beforehand, and I don't want to step on anybody's toes over at American CoreLogic.