The Long Tail

Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More

by Chris Anderson

Number of pages: 256

Publisher: Hyperion

BBB Library: Sales and Marketing

ISBN: 978-1401302375

About the Author

Chris Anderson is the Editor in Chief of Wired magazine. In 2005, he was named editor of the year by Advertising Age magazine.


Editorial Review

The tracking of top-seller lists is a national obsession. Our culture is a massive popularity contest. We are consumed by hits—making them, choosing them, talking about them, and following their rise and fall. No surprise that hits have become the lens through which we observe our own culture. We define our age by our celebrities and mass-market products. They are the connective tissue of our common experience. Hits are starting to, gasp, rule less. Number one is still number one, but the sales that go with that are not what they once were. In short, although we still obsess over hits, they are not quite the economic force they once were. Where are those fickle consumers going instead? No single place. They are scattered to the winds as markets fragment into countless niches. The one big growth area is the WEB, but it is an un-categorizable sea of a million destinations, each defying in its own way the conventional logic of media and marketing. 

Book Reviews

"The Long Tail is an extension of an influential article published in Wired Magazine (Anderson, 2004). As a business concept, The long tail phenomenon is attractive because “products that are in low demand or have low sales volume can collectively make up a market share that rivals or exceeds the relatively few current bestsellers and blockbusters, if the store or distribution channel is large enough” (Wikipedia, 2006). The phrase long tail is from the name of the low-frequency portion of a statistical distribution."

"Chris Anderson uses his revolutionary book, The Long Tail to remind us, yet again, that we live in an unprecedented time of change and opportunity. Change in the way we buy, the way we sell and the way we interact throughout the process. It’s true – a lot is changing, and at an unbelievable rate. And yet… and yet, the fundamentals remain the same. Create something of value; create it with passion, and the world will respond. The classics are forever."

"Chris Anderson's The Long Tail does something that only the best books do—uncovers a phenomenon that's undeniably going on and makes clear sense of it. Anderson, the Wired editor-in-chief who first wrote about the Long Tail concept in 2004, had two moments of genius: He visualized the demand for certain products as a "power curve," and he came up with a catchy phrase to go with his observation. Like most good ideas, the Long Tail attaches to your mind and gets stuck there."

"Mr. Anderson’s book does an excellent job of spotting trends and fitting them into an easily accessible theoretical framework that helps explain the changing culture around us." New York Times

"'Niche' promotion has long been a commonplace of the cultural market, but when Anderson, the Californian editor of Wired magazine, came up with a new phrase to describe the buying and selling of books and records that were not necessarily bestsellers, he not only gave new life to an old concept, but also some useful theoretical underpinning to a market being transformed by online selling. The ongoing war between Microsoft and Google only makes his survey even more topical." The Guardian

Books on Related Topics

Wisdom to Share

It's quite extraordinary how much we've been able to increase our consumption bandwidth of information, scanning pages of Google search results and custom blog feeds.

Human attention is more expandable than money.

The primary effect of the Long Tail is to shift our taste toward niches, but to the extent we're more satisfied by what we're finding, we may well consume more of it.

If you love documentaries, video stores aren't for you—there are too many documentaries, and they sell too poorly to justify stocking more than a few dozen of them on physical shelves.

Amazon and other networks of used booksellers have made it almost as easy to find and buy a second-hand book as it is a new one.

The question tomorrow will not be whether more choice is better, but rather what do we really want? On the infinite aisle, everything is possible.