Review of the book: The Long Tail. Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More

The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of MoreThe Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Google was influenced by the theory presented in this book. Originally the Author Chris Anderson presented it as a article in the magazine Wired, as Editor in Chief. And Google was back then in 2001 “just” the fastest growing search engine on the planet. For the record, Google borrowed the business model that was pioneered by Bill Gross few years earlier. And Google has built the most affective Long Tail advertising machine the world has ever seen. And if only because of that this book is worth reading.

In short: Long Tail is “market” of millions of markets of dozens. Where market could be anything. Also something that author refers to like: “all-amateur, laptop culture”. Not written by the author of this book, but mentioned as the perfect example of Long Tail is on Wikipedia written definition of Long Tail.

Bottom line: a Long Tail is just culture unfiltered by economic scarcity. So, our culture is moving from a relatively small number of hits toward a huge number of niches in the tail. And this is what author explains in depth. Some cases being really interesting especially if you are not from USA but would like to learn something new about past decades in the States.

What enabled the Long Tail?

The Long Tail enabled:

  • democratization of the production tools,
  • falling costs of consumption by democratized distribution,
  • connection between supply and demand.

More interesting details

Internet is about filtering. And we had filters even in pre-online times. Just we didn’t notice them. Author divides filters into pre-filtes and post-filters. Cases for the first are: editors, record label scouts, studio executives, department store buyers, marketers, advertisers and cases for the later are blogs, play-lists, reviews (like this ones on Goodreads), customers, recommendations, consumers. In Long Tail all you need are effective filters. You should be able to find what you want as you move down the Tail to your “nichebusters” (by Eric Schonfeld).

Very interesting to me author also explains or better to say de-constructs some other generally accepted theories or rules. Like 80/20 Rule of Pareto/Zipf distributions. In economy this rule is used to explain that 20 percent of products account for 80 percent of revenues. Or more generally that 20 percent of our time accounts for 80 percent of our productivity. Originally Pareto observed and calculated that in his times about 20 percent of population owned 80 percent of the wealth. And what has Long Tail to do it? Nothing. Just don’t be discouraged by this rule because the Long Tail does work. Because we live in on-line era where different (economic) rules apply. If you sold Top 20 ring-tones for 80 percent of sales in the newspaper era, this felt to just 40 percent of sales when users could search on-line from nearly 20.000 ring-tones on-line.

Cool Long Tail ideas

Some other Long Tail ideas from the book are:

  • cool commercials you choose to watch
  • presentations from conferences you wish you could have attended
  • self-publishing market with BookSurge as leading print-on-demand business
  • self-publishing as marketing vehicles to enhance your academic reputation, market your consultancy or earn you speaking fees or just leave your mark on the world
  • services that aggregate only SEC filings

And did you know that ontology is a word that means different things in different disciplines?

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