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The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is…

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

by Chris Anderson

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Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
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This would have been a great read had I read it in 2006 when it first came out, but 13 years later it is outdated as technology has moved so quickly.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Still some interesting points to take from the book at a general business level, but just too outdated for where we've moved on to (Instagram wasn't even a twinkle in someone's eye in 2006, and Etsy and YouTube were just getting going).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 |
The Long Tail, as a concept, is one of those fundamental world forces that I barely begin to understand. Here's a stab at a concise definition of the concept, from Clay Shirky in 2003:

"For my part, when I used the term in "Powerlaws, Weblogs, and Inequality", I didn't think of it as a coinage at all -- linear distributions have heads and tails and the weblog tail is long and flat....Chris and I and lots of other people use the phrase to describe a particular kind of distribution, but Chris has taken it in the direction of Tipping Point, a phrase that conjures up a whole complex of related issues, particularly issues of the business aspects of media and culture, that I didn't. So from my pov, Chris should get credit for originality, not of the phrase but of its current application and vividness."

The Long Tail of technology's effect on consumer entertainment is a particularly interesting problem as it relates to the book industry. I've got more to post here, but time and shallow understanding constrain my typing fingers. I'll return later with more (to write). ( )
  evamat72 | Mar 31, 2016 |
shelved at: (Y) : Economics
  PeterKent2015 | Feb 14, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 74 (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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Examines how technology has changed the face of the marketplace, offering an abundance of variety to consumers who want more of a choice, and can get it because of the commercial viability of distribution, manufacturing, and marketing.

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