On Corn Power and Newspaper Subscriptions

This week’s book learning is part 1 of a 2 part series comprising of 4 of my favorite insights from ‘Free’ by Chris Anderson.

Corn Power – Corn is a multi billion dollar industry and one of the world’s most planted crops. I have always wondered why since not many seem to eat corn! Here’s the story –

Water to starch. Rice, wheat and corn are considered the main 3 crops. While rice is high on protein but difficult to grow and wheat is the exact oppoiste, corn is both high on protein and easy to grow.
Since corn is the most efficient converter of water and sun light into starch, we use corn for more than we can imagine.

Corn supermarkets. More than 25% of the products in a super market are derived from corn. Soaps, shampoos, toothpastes, the boxes they are packed in, and even the compounds that the super markets are built with are based on corn!

Chicken nugget. The chicken nugget is the perfect embodiment of corn power – corn is the basis for the feed of the chicken, corn oil, the golden color, and smell.

The big reason corn and food have gotten expensive is that corn began to be used for the production of ethanol for fuel. This has truly tested the limits of corn.

Newpaper subscriptions and subscription pricing

– A fun fact about subscription pricing – it almost always doesn’t exist to maximize revenue. Newspapers make money from advertisements and advertisers pay higher for subscribed newspapers

– Additionally, making a customer pay a penny is a really troublesome (Can you imagine entering card details online for 1p?) So, they are just better off charging more for it!


Sketch by EB

Free by Chris Anderson has a bunch of very interesting insights on the concept of “free” and how it has shaped today’s world. “Book bytes” from the book are here.

We have 2 more insights – the dynamics of free and interesting applications to business coming up next week..