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The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More (2006)

by Chris Anderson

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3,371892,664 (3.86)27
The long tail is an examination of the phenomenon Chris Anderson, the editor-in-chief of Wired magazine, first wrote about in the September 2004 issue in which he presented a powerful truth about the new economics of business in the digital age based on unlimited supply. This is a must-listen for anyone trying to position their companies for a 21st century marketplace, along with being a mind-expanding listen for consumers and producers alike.… (more)

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When this was published it was a seminal book that defined the new business model for the internet. Since then, things have moved on, and some of the subjected predicted in the book never did come to pass.

In essence, the long Tail is the niche products and services that large stores and business cannot justify holding, when they only sell one or two a year. A small business could offer this prior to the internet coming along, but it was primarily mail order, or very specialised.

Along come the internet, and suddenly your customers could find you far easier than ever before, and you could justify stocking the item that sold one a month. With the advent of digital products, the sales capacity is infinite.

It is very well written, and i really enjoyed reading it. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
Makes me very uncomfortable regarding just how much writing I should be doing to keep up... ( )
  Loryndalar | Mar 19, 2020 |
I picked up a bunch of business books last weekend at the secondhand bookshop and have learnt a valuable lesson - whilst fiction books still remain relevant even if published 20, 50, 100 years ago, the same cannot be said for business books, particularly those orientated around digital businesses. Note to self - check the publication date next time!

This would have been a great read had I read it in 2006 when it first came out, but 13 years later it is outdated as technology has moved so quickly. To [[Chris Anderson]]'s credit he was pretty much on the ball in this book about the extent to which the internet would affect our shopping habits for music, television and movie media and general products. By 2006 many of these patterns had already started to emerge, but were nowhere near developed to the extent they are today. For example, he refers to Blockbuster in this book, which hadn't yet been completely killed off by the market shift towards Netflix.

It was still an interesting read, as the long tail (i.e. finding hugely successful markets at the niche end of shopping habits) is what's made zillions of dollars for Jeff Bezos and lots of smaller entrepreneurs. Very simply, although less people buy certain goods at the long end of the tail (on a graph of purchasing habits), when you aggregate the numbers of those people times the number of niche products they're interested in purchasing it creates a huge overall market, and online stores (which aren't limited by physical shop shelf space) have enabled businesses to capitalise on that.

Still some interesting points to take from the book at a general business level, but just too outdated for where we've moved on to (Instagram wasn't even a twinkle in someone's eye in 2006, and Etsy and YouTube were just getting going). I think there's a more up-to-date version of this book that would have been a better read.

2.5 stars - interesting and well written, but just dated. ( )
  AlisonY | Mar 23, 2019 |
3 ( )
  ronchan | Nov 14, 2016 |
the story of digital disruption, what you missed and why you missed it ... ( )
  Brumby18 | Aug 20, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)

The real novelty of Anderson’s book is not his thesis but its representation in the form of a neat, readily graspable picture: the long-tail curve. For decades, economists and scientists have been using this graph, which is formally known as a power-law distribution, to describe things like the distribution of wealth or the relative size of cities. By applying the long tail to the online world, Anderson brings intellectual order to what often looks like pointless activity.
added by mikeg2 | editThe New Yorker, John Cassidy (Jul 10, 2006)
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