The following are a few books, videos and blog posts that can be a great inspiration and provide invaluable knowledge for working with the freemium model.


Books about the Economics of Free and Freemium

Free by Chris Anderson
This seminal book by Wired editor Chris Anderson explains how business models built around free have become increasingly popular. If you’re looking to create a freemium business model, this is a must-read.

The Wealth of Networks
In this book, one of the leading academics in the field explains how markets are reaching a more fundamental level due to Internet technology.

Chapter 2, in which the author explains information production and innovation from a basic economic viewpoint, is especially interesting.

Viral Loop
Viral Loop is short inspirational book that can be great for learning how to create a free product that will achieve viral growth.

Permission Marketing
Written in 1999, this book helped pioneer the idea of permission marketing. Working with freemium can be a great inspiration for seeing how a free product can be a “permission” to market premium products to users.


Books on method

I am personally a big fan of design thinking, lean startup and similar paradigms. The methods derived from these fields are great for working with digital disruption and business model design. The following are a few of the most useful books in this area.

The Design of Business
This is a great book about design thinking in business. This book has been a tremendous inspiration for the methods I have used and developed in my own work.

Lean Startup
Lean startups are new ventures working under wildly uncertain circumstances. Traditional management has proven extremely successful for working with ventures. Where there is less uncertainty, however, it falls short when working with startups.

Eric Rice gives us an alternative method for systematically managing ventures under wildly uncertain circumstances, i.e., in lean startup environments.

As freemium models are most often developed under uncertain circumstances, the lean startup methodology can be an excellent tool for freemium design.

Business Model Generation
This a great book describing a great tool, the business model Canvas. When I initially started working with freemium and business models, I was at a loss when it came to finding a good framework to explain the various types of business models.

I stumbled upon an extended list of other early work drafts. I became an avid commentator on this blog and a co-creator of the book.

This book is a must-read for anyone working in strategy or innovation, especially those working with freemium business models.




Bay Area Freemium Meet Up (
At regular intervals, people meet up in San Francisco to talk about freemium as a business model. The people behind this meet up have been so kind as to write summaries and take videos of these events, which can be found on their website.


Blog Posts

A classic blog post by Kevin Kelly explain the basics of how to make money in a world where the copy is free.

Eric Seufert of has designed a very interesting free-to-play spreadsheet revenue model. He also has a lot of other interesting content in the freemium field, especially regarding free-to-play mobile games.

Here is another very interesting blog post, in which Chris Anderson describes the four kinds of business models built around free.

Next is a fairly technical 2009 guide for creating a profitable freemium business. It is focused on SaaS software and includes a helpful spreadsheet.

This is an interesting post by Ranjith Kumaran of describing the lessons he learned through freemium.

From freemium’s infancy, Mike Masnick of has written interesting posts about the economy of abundance and freemium, as can be seen in this 2007 post.




An old video in which Tim O’Reilly explains his thoughts about free:

Tim O’Reilly makes the argument for Open Publishing @ TOC 2009 from Open Publishing Lab @ RIT on Vimeo.

Yochai Benkler explains open source economics:

Chris Anderson explains the freemium business model in 2009:

Phil Libin talks about the analytics of the Evernote freemium model:

Founder Showcase – Phil Libin Keynote from Founder Institute 1 on Vimeo.

A bunch of great videos from the freemium conference in 2010:

Phil Libin

Aron Levie

Drew Houston

Shaya Zedeh

Matt Brezina

Ben Chestnut