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Hardcover | $32.00 Short | £22.95 | ISBN: 9780262016940 | 192 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 4 b&w photos, 2 b&w illus., 13 figures, 8 tables| December 2011
eBook | $22.00 Short | ISBN: 9780262301923 | 192 pp. | 4 b&w photos, 2 b&w illus., 13 figures, 8 tables| December 2011
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Gurus and Oracles

The Marketing of Information


We live in an “Information Age” of overabundant data and lightning-fast transmission. Yet although information and knowledge represent key factors in most economic decisions, we often forget that data, information, and knowledge are products created and traded within the knowledge economy. In Gurus and Oracles, Miklos Sarvary describes the information industry--the far-flung universe of companies whose core business is to sell information to decision makers. These companies include such long-established firms as Thomson Reuters (which began in 1850 with carrier pigeons relaying stock market news) as well as newer, dominant players like Google and Facebook. Sarvary highlights the special characteristics of information and knowledge and analyzes the unusual behaviors of the markets for them. He shows how technology contributes to the spectacular growth of this sector and how new markets for information change our economic environment.

Research in economics, business strategy, and marketing has shown that information is different from other goods and services; this is especially true in competitive settings and may result in strange competitive market outcomes. For example, Sarvary points out, unreliable information may be more expensive than reliable information; information sellers may be better off inviting competitors into their market because this may allow them to increase their prices; and competition may lead to increased media bias--but this may benefit consumers who want to discover the truth. In Gurus and Oracles, Sarvary explores the implications of these and other peculiarities for information buyers and sellers.

About the Author

Miklos Sarvary is Professor of Marketing, Dean of Executive Education, and Director of the Learning Information Center at INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France.

Table of Contents

  • Gurus and Oracles
  • Gurus and Oracles
  • The Marketing of Information
  • Miklos Sarvary
  • The MIT Press
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • London, England
  • ©
  • 2012
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.
  • MIT Press books may be purchased at special quantity discounts for business or sales promotional use. For information, please email or write to Special Sales Department, The MIT Press, 55 Hayward Street, Cambridge, MA 02142.
  • This book was set in Sabon by Graphic Composition, Inc., Bogart, Georgia. Printed and bound in the United States of America.
  • {Comp: Please fill in compositor and location}
  • Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
  • Sarvary, M. (Miklos)
  • Gurus and oracles : the marketing of information / Miklos Sarvary.
  •  p. cm.
  • Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • ISBN 978-0-262-01694-0 (hbk. : alk. paper)
  • 1. Information services industry. 2. Information networks. 3. Information technology. I. Title.
  • HD9999.I492S28 2012
  • 001.068'8—dc23
  • 2011023271
  • 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
  • Contents
  • Introduction: The Information Industry
  • vii
  • I The Economics of Information
  • 1
  • 1 Is There a Market for Information?
  • 3
  • 2 Decisions and Information
  • 9
  • 3 Competitive Pricing of Information
  • 27
  • 4 Why Information Sellers May Lie
  • 49
  • II Bringing Information to Market
  • 69
  • 5 The Information Value Chain
  • 71
  • 6 Networks, Interfaces, and Search
  • 91
  • 7 Branding Information
  • 115
  • 8 R&D for Information and Knowledge
  • 131
  • 9 Conclusion
  • 155
  • Notes
  • 159
  • References
  • 167
  • Index
  • 173


"Miklos Sarvary's Gurus and Oracles provides a powerful analytical lens onto the dynamics of increasingly dominant information markets. While highly accessible and largely devoid of academic jargon, it is not for the faint-hearted. It is a serious read! But one that promises to be an authoritative text for those interested in information market fundamentals, be it as a keen student of the modern economy, regulators, or those tasked with navigating its competitive waters. It certainly made me think, ask new questions, and view information markets with a keener eye."
Professor Nader Tavassoli, London Business School and Non-Executive Chairman, The Brand Inside

"Miklos Sarvary's research is the first to consider markets for information from both rigorous academic and pragmatic perspectives. The book clearly explains why the markets for gurus and other sellers of information cannot be compared to sellers of other products and services. While this book should certainly upset a few gurus, it will also help sellers of traditional information--including newspapers, high-end data vendors, the Googles of the world, and educational publishers--look at their market in an entirely new way."
Philip M. Parker, Chair Professor of Management Science, INSEAD

"Information can be valuable but in a markedly different manner from traditional products. This book provides a unique and timely perspective on the economics of information and helps us understand the forces moving information markets."
Zsolt Katona, Assistant Professor of Marketing, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley

"Gurus and Oracles entertainingly offers unique insight into the fascinating and increasingly important market for information, whose participants include some of the world's famous companies like Google, Bloomberg, and McKinsey & Company. Miklos Sarvary wonderfully brings together seminal research from many disciplines to explain how this market behaves."
Harrison Hong, John Sculley '66 Professor of Economics and Finance, Princeton University