Chris Anderson is Wired for success

Chris Anderson and SPI fans
Chris Anderson and SPI fans

His crisp Condé Nast business card says Editor-in-Chief. Yet, says Chris Anderson, if one of his five children follows in his footsteps someday, his or her business card will likely read “Community Manager.”  “Things are changing,” says the editor of one of the smartest, most irreverent and internet and tech-savvy magazines ever created. Wired coined phrases such as “crowd sourcing”   and “new atheism.” Anderson himself invented the term  “Long Tail and also wrote a bestselling book about the value of selling large numbers of unique or niche items in relatively small quantities. Now, paradigm-shifter Anderson is back with his new book “Free: The Future of a Radical Price,” out July 7th from Hyperion.  Summer Publishing Institute students were lucky enough to snag advance copies….free!

In a wide-ranging chat with SPI students, Anderson touched on a number of topics:

On The Long Tail: “It’s the most pirated business book in China and I am incredibly proud of that.  Think of all the people who worked to copy it and get it out on the streets. Look at all that organic demand!”

On the power of the Internet: “It does not discriminate between small and large.  It has room for everything on its shelf. And it’s all about doing what you want, finding what you like. We’ve learned we don’t just want blockbusters. The Long Tail is everything else. The real shape of consumer demand is that we like American Idol and our niche subjects, too. There’s no top 40 playlist on the Internet: we have to make our own.”

On paid vs. free: “It’s a mistake to look at only a monetary economy. You have to look at non-monetary credits, too, like attention and reputation. Things like page ranks, number of Twitter followers, and your Facebook page can become convertible currency. If you can achieve wealth in one economy, you can achieve it in another. For example, I don’t care if I make money from “Free.” I make money from speeches [Ed note: Chris spoke to SPI students for free.]. It’s the same model as a band that gives away its music and makes money on tours. Your job is to be known for something that has some value and to convert it into something else you want, maybe a job or an interview for a job.”

On success: “We have many different levels of success now. If a book sells 10,000 copies, that’s a business. If a band sells 10,000 albums, that’s a business. The old model stigmatized niches as failure. Things have changed.”

On what is media: Who are we competing with? Time magazine or Twitter?

by Andrea Chambers

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