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Hardcover | $34.00 Short | £24.95 | ISBN: 9780262016940 | 192 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 4 b&w photos, 2 b&w illus., 13 figures, 8 tables | December 2011
eBook | $24.00 Short | ISBN: 9780262301923 | 192 pp. | 4 b&w photos, 2 b&w illus., 13 figures, 8 tables | December 2011

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


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