Yesterday I finally finished The Long Tail by Chris Anderson. Reading a book about economics makes me feel very smart… Although I did get some flak for reading it when someone who had never read or even heard of the book suggested it must be some sort of a self-help book for people that want to open a business. Oh puh-leaze.
The Long Tail is about – well, the Long Tail, really. If you’ve never heard of it, I suggest you read Chris Andersons original WIRED article about it. And/or maybe thelongtail.com, his blog. Or let me try to explain it.
If you had a diagram of, say, songs sold on iTunes, you would have a few songs that millions of people want. Like Umbrella by Rihanna or Dear Mr. President by Pink or what have you. So as an example, if we have 10 million people buying Umbrella, and iTunes gets, say, 50 cents per sale, they make 5 million dollars with that one song. This is the head of the diagram.
But then, if iTunes has 10 million songs that are not as popular (like Tami Hart or Transvision Vamp) and that only get bought by two people a year, then in effect they sell 20 million songs in total, and they make 10 million dollars off of that.
So, that’s basically what the book is about, and it has many examples of companies “using” the Long Tail and explains why the Internet can cater so well to the Long Tail.
The book is somewhat repetitive, which I found to be rather helpful. I don’t have an economics background (at all) and so pointing out the important things to me several times made it easy for me to follow.
All in all, I thought the book was very interesting and I hereby recommend it to YOU.