BookMooch: Lessons in solving the problem of ‘free.’

All this talk of “free” being the future of business sure has people nervous. Small wonder. You got into the startup thing to make money! But the concept of ‘free’ is hip, and aint’ going away anytime soon. This is creating new and very real burdens for young founders — how do you manage and grow a business built on a model of giving things away for nothing? Well, today I got a bunch of tips on how to make ‘free’ pay, from a serial entrepreneur who is doing it.

I attended the monthly High Tech Lunch in Berkeley, California where the guest speaker was John Buckman, the founder of Lyris and later, Magnatune, both of which are still going. John’s current startup, called BookMooch.com, founded in August 2006, is an exchange site where readers swap books from their home libraries with one another — for free.

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