The Awesome Book of free stuff

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What is “Theoretical Value”

I did like the idea of being able to say that any given freebie was worth something, and therefore represented an individual saving, the whole idea being to put a theoretical sum on the front cover to give an indication of what one might save by using the information in this book.

When something is given away it is very difficult to estimate what its theoretical “value” or “price” is worth. In the case of a Simulation programme which replaces the need to purchase an actual device, you could say the software is worth the device cost. However, in the case of, say, a book, it is possible to estimate the value of the book in terms of the Author's time simply to type and publish the document.

Suppose we based this on the number of words, assuming a maximum typing speed of around 60 wpm (which is actually optomistically fast for the average user, more like a trained touch-typist, and does not take into account research time, graphics production, etc.) and made an arbitrary hourly rate of minimum (UK) wage of £6.50. So, for example, a book of 29228 words, 1122k would work out at 487 minutes, or roughly 8 hours, times £6.50 per hour = £52. Obviously the Author would plan to sell more than one book, so they would price it much lower. Typical prices to print are going to be around a couple of thousand dollars for 100 books. Averaging a unit price of around $10 a book.

Having thought about this long and hard, I conclude that a theoretical value is impossible to judge accurately, so I simply took a guess as to what that item might be worth to me to purchase. If it is a small book, like a simple pamphlet, then I would perhaps price it at around £1. A medium sized book would, on average, cost around £15 by the time the Author had put on his own mark up to make a profit. Many e-books sell for much less, depending on the reputation of an Author.

Some books going free once were sold and had a price at one time but have run out of copyright, so they are freely available. You can pick up Library stock for sale occasionally, or get books in second hand shops. Nowadays people often put them online as free downloads. Like the Gutenberg Project which has 38,000 free books. Sometimes it is possible to work out values or find it in old catalogues. Or base it on the average price of a book at that time. When a free book is available, it is sometimes possible to find an equivalent version which is on sale for a fixed price, and perhaps take an average of the commercial “competitors”.

There is no real theoretical price that would be dependable, it is purely a ‘guesstimate’ on my part. My ex-wife used to be very good at judging the value of just about anything, and was surprisingly accurate. I am not so clever in that respect, but I do know what something is worth to me. Often if someone wants me to do a job for them, rather than give them a price I prefer to ask “what is it worth to you?”, and see if I find that an agreeable reward for my time, labour and inconvenience to accommodate their requirements.

I need to pay my way in the world and believe my labour is valuable, my time is possibly much more valuable to me, each of us only has so many days to walk this beautiful Earth. Work, however is beneficial, it can be sociable, it is character-forming, it often involves learning new skills that are worthwhile, and a good job well done can often bring in more business by recommendations. At the end of the day there is also the sheer satisfaction of creation and a job well done.

So, to conclude, my theoretical value is purely a rough estimate based on what that item might be worth to me – in my opinion.


I live in the UK, so I am sorry that this book, and my website has a slight UK bias, that is simply because my online browsing will default to local sites, and obviously I am more familiar with UK resources – however, with a little lateral thinking, you should easily be able to find equivalent services in your home country. Sometimes this works the other way and US sources are not available in the UK. I have tried hard to keep everything international. Perhaps future editions might be specific to different countries.

I might also explain that this volume uses what we call “The Queen’s English” so no apologies for that, but there is no need to inform me that you think humour should be spelt humor, or color instead of colour. I may soon produce an American English version, but don’t hold your breath. Waddya want for free?
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The Awesome Book of free stuff iconThis book is copyright of James George Whitelaw and is available free of charge for you to download and read in an electronic format. This book may not be

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The Awesome Book of free stuff iconThis book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with

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