Much touted at Book Expo, Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Wired magazine edtior-in-chief Chris Anderson is drawing a round of negative publicity less than two weeks before its July publication, stemming from accusations that Anderson lifted content from the Web without attribution. Though the book has been in the news for several days, preorder activity on Amazon is relatively mild: Free is currently at #4897. Libraries we checked show some reserves, with between 10 and 25 copies on order.
The charges against Anderson first emerged in a post by Waldo Jaquith on the Virginia Quarterly Review blog, and were seconded by Edward Champion, who posted examples of possible plagarism from other websites on his own blog. Anderson, in turn, responded to Jaquith’s claims on his blog, stating that the unattributed passages would be rewritten or credited to Wikipedia in all digital and future print editions of the book.
It remains to be seen if the controversy will overshadow the book itself, which PW gave a starred review, saying “Anderson provides a thorough overview of the history of pricing and commerce…As in [his] previous book, the thought-provoking material is matched by a delivery that is nothing short of scintillating.”
Amazon has also posted a video interview with Anderson from Book Expo, taped before the controversy erupted, in which Anderson explains how business models involving “free” giveaways have evolved between the 20th and 21st centuries.