The Long Tail Reaction

June 26, 2008

My reaction to Chris Anderson’s idea of The Long Tail is: I wish read it two years ago, when someone recommended it to me!!! I could be running a profitable business by now, had I the knowledge and insights that the book offers. Or at least I could have attempted to start a business, based on the model Anderson describes. I could have failed in my hypothetical business undertaking, but could still retain the learning that this experience could have given me. If only I had read it back then… Well, this reminds me of the retrospective French saying: With “if” we can fit Paris (not Hilton!) in a bottle. Avec si on peut metre Paris dans un bouteille… It is too late for regrets now.

The Long Tail is the ultimate revelation of how the market works now and how dramatically it has changed with the advent of the new web technologies. It describes how the hit-minded marketing has collapsed under the flood of availability (at low storage cost) of many more different products. Anderson reveals how market niches get narrower, but are still able to bring profit by virtue of their multiplicity. Or as Kevin Laws is quoted on page 23 of the book: “The biggest money is in the smallest sales.” The data about Rhapsody having 40 percent of their sales coming from products not available in traditional offline retail stores was striking to me. Same goes for Amazon’s 25 percent –  this is just brilliant! Who could have known?

The Long Tail gives us everything we may desire to find out there. My own discoveries along the Tail include for example finding new to me collections of short plays from David Ives – a playwright I adore since 1996 on the basis of one single book. The Long Tail gave me the chance to get many more of his brilliant works and want even more that he has not written yet! It helped me rekindle my college passion for theater and utter delight in play reading.

My introduction to podcasts came late. I guess I am not an early adopter, sorry. It was for Professor Mark Story’s class on the Intersection of Offline and Online Public Relations last fall semester. So, by assignment and later on by sheer interest I have chosen to listen to For Immediate Release: The Hobson & Holtz Report– a twice weekly wekly commentary on public relations and technology.


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