O'Reilly has to have a strategy. I think his strategy is similarly different to what Mod discussed when he made the content of Art Space Tokyo free via the website. However, their strategies differ in that Mod's free content is only available via the website. To gain access to a book version of Art Space Tokyo, you need to purchase it. O'Reilly's giving his formatted copy away for free. So he has to have some reason for doing, meaning it has paid off or he thinks it will. So, my initial thought on the sustainability of "gift economies" is that it is possible. If it wasn't, why would O'Reilly be investing in it?
In a society where it's harder to sell hard copies of books, O'Reilly may be onto something. I wonder if he is more likely to get people to buy the book if they can see it first. Does making it free compel some readers to purchase it? As we've discussed in class, there is something about owning something as opposed to just viewing and accessing it. He's also getting his work out there. Giving his book away for free is almost of way of marketing it without the high cost often associated with marketing. By offering you his work, he's able to build up his name and credibility. You don't have to pay to access credible information. That's saying something in this day and age and has to foster some goodwill.
I immediately associated O'Reilly with artists who distribute their work under a Creative Commons license. What makes him any different from other artists? It's my understanding that artists want to share their work and want others to have access to it without paying for it. The same applies to O'Reilly's readers, and I sense they'll respect him for it. We're back to the goodwill.
So, I guess this takes me to answering: Is a "gift economy" sustainable? Why or why not? It seems like the answer is situational. How is the "gift" marketed? How is the "gift" received by audiences? If the gift adds value and will lead to sales--even if they aren't required--I think it can become sustainable. If the costs up-front to create the "gift" aren't too high, I believe sustainability is a possibility.