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The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More Hardcover – July 11, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
- Lexile Measure : 1230L
- Grade Level : 8 and up
- Item Weight : 11.2 ounces
- Hardcover : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1401302378
- ISBN-13 : 978-1401302375
- Product Dimensions : 6.13 x 9.25 inches
- Publisher : Hyperion; 1st Printing Edition (July 11, 2006)
- Reading level : 18 and up
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #452,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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However, you may wonder how a thing once defined as “geeky,” aka “going nowhere,” evolved in Darwinian fashion into an anthropomorphic feature so essential to mankind, it is now held on a par with walking “upright” or walking “on the moon.”
In this latest version of The Long Tail, Chris Anderson does an exceptional job explaining how the “endless shelf space” of the internet, when applied to commerce or culture, makes the niche marketing of almost any product, service or idea so efficient and effective its disruptive forces lay waste to many given economic ideas and generations of long held cultural norms.
Within a few chapters you understand why a “cloud” presence is often more valuable than a physical domain and in entertaining fashion why the conversation extends beyond economics in the very mosaic of life. In some ways The Long Tail has become a meme for the cultural “theory of everything” human.
While the book is brilliant on many levels, some themes are repeated beyond their capacity to provide new enlightenment or insight. This minor distraction is really a function of attempting to write history while still standing in the middle of an event, with every passing day there are new examples of how Long Tail economics and culture are reshaping the world.
Now, there was another cat in a faraway land.The city people in the Manx Kingdom knew little of this part of the world and cared less.This cat was the King of the Land of Maine -- a Maine Coon Cat. Unlike the Manx, he was long of tail,lean and he lived a clean life. His kingdom was larger, more diverse and filled with great multitudes of little people. But they lived in small hamlets far apart from each other. And because the people of Maine lived so far apart, they were unaware of their own goodness and wonder.
Now the Maine Coon was good king. He traveled from village to village honestly admiring the handmade artifacts of his citizens. He would tell everyone he met about the many good works of his people. In each town he would arch his back and waggle his long tail in appreciation of their interesting and diligent efforts. The little people did create many good and different works, but their work went unknown. That is until...one day when a little girl presented the Maine Coon Cat with a special gift. It was a magical White Cube she had been given by an eccentric, but intelligent, bald-headed troll whose workshop was in an abandoned stable. The electric box captured pictures of every product, thing, talent, and service available in the Land of the Long Tail. Most magically, the Cube could send these pictures of goodies to every person in the land, every minute of the day -- and if the people wished hard enough, the pictures became real and words, music, and things of every sort were delivered instantly to the little people. Sometimes they paid for their wish -- sometimes they got things for nothing. It was a strange and wonderful machine. The people of Maine were now united. No longer were they outcast and unknown. Unlike the people of Hollyork who sold in bulk to the masses, the citizens of the Land Of Maine sold their works one by one to discriminating and dedicated customers.The Maine Coon Cat was most grateful to the little girl and to her troll friend as his Kingdom was now important just like the Manx Kingdom. He raised his long tail proudly for everyone to see. And the people cheered him.
Now the Manx Cat really didn't seem to care about the magical White Cube. His tail still had some magic -- but not quite as powerful as before, because the entire world could now see everything everyone had to offer, not just the things that were issued forth by King Manx. Although he took a pay cut, he still smoked cigars and he remained convinced he was king of everything that was important. Faraway, the Maine Coon King continued to live his clean and simple life, and he too was happy because his people were happy. They enjoyed the Kingdom of the Long Tail.
And everyone in the two kingdoms lived happily ever after.
In a world obsessed with the next big hit or the single shining light this book demonstrates that much success lies in satisfying the diversity of choice. Too often popular culture seduces into a popularity contest where there is only room for first place. Too often we fail to celebrate the diversity of interests that is humanity and fail to take business advantage of this.
The ability to reach smaller audiences has now been simplified with technology and the Internet. Now it is possible to services just about every market as quickly and easily as any traditional business model. This book opened my eyes up to the possibilities that I have been largely ignoring and has infused a desire to explore such opportunities with more rigour and discipline.
If you are looking to understand the business opportunity technology like the Internet can provide a business. If you are looking to understand how to succeed even within a restricted audience, then this book is something you should read. In reality, if you are in business then this is certainly a book that you should read as it may just change your idea of where you can be successful. I know it has for me.
Top reviews from other countries
- Three forces need to create the long tail:
1. democratize production: give average people the ability to create quality content (movies, music, blogs)
2. democratize distribution: technology to aggregate *all* the content in a genre (Amazon, Netflix, iTunes)
3. Connect Supply and Demand: filters to help people find the niche's they are interested in (Google, recommendations, best-seller lists)
- One quarter of Amazon's sales come from books outside its top 100,000 titles. Thus having a long tail adds ~33% to your bottom line.
- Ranking bestsellers across niche's genre's gives little value. Filters to rank items must be applied within each niche to become relevant. Goodreads could improve here.
- As the number of niche's increases, the ability of people to consume more content within the genre increases. This depends on the genre, but it gives me hope that we can increase the number of people who read through Goodreads, by creating better filters to connect readers of various niche's.
- each year 200,000 books are published in english, and fewer than 20,000 make it into a bookstore. Only 2% of the books published in 2004 sold more than 5000 copies, and can be considered profitable.
- There is another factor that determines why people create content, other than money: reputation.
He drops significant names like a deciduous tree in autumn.
This book can be a bit patchy, but the good patches are quite brilliant. I really liked it.
The question is, will you?
If you are interested in how things work - if you take an engineer's approach to life, then the answer is probably yes.
This describes (with examples) the success of companies like Amazon who do not just use the internet to
sell things, but put in infrastructure that enables them to sell a vastly wider variety of things to the larger market.
The consequence of this is that they address a vastly larger market than conventional retailers who just 'go online'.
And this is just one of the consequences of 'The Long Tail' phenomenom.
The Long Tail is a book I recommend all my clients to read. When so many people are wasting countless millions on ineffective marketing the Long Tail is the doorway to a method of marketing products or services that is absolutely free to implement.
We all know that if you want to open a successful restaurant one of the consideration is location. The best location is frequently close to other successful restaurants as that is where the people that frequent good restaurants will notice you.
The Long Tail demonstrates another approach to marketing .... especially online. When marketing online you need to be found by people frequenting your type of business and what better than to be found by them when they search for words like restaurant ... except of course every other restauranteur is being found linked to the same keyword. So the answer is to be found by people searching for Long Tail keywords. Things like "French Restaurant in Mytown" is going to return fewer websites and the chances of being found is much higher.
For example my business focuses on a number of niche markets and by carefully choosing a whole host of Long Tail keywords we are Number One on Google for dozens of terms. Each of them brings only a handful of prospects each month .. but when aggregated they amount to a lot of pre-qualified prospects all looking for exactly what we offer. Linked to the traditional forms of marketing this is a recipe for success and I will continue to recommend this book to my clients.
The trouble is however that the theory is proved right within just a few areas of business and as growing product granulation seems natural for entertainment or media industry it gets much harder to find evidence in other areas, not in Anderson book at least. To name a few examples: consumer banking, automotive industry, telecommunications: these are all major contributors to GDPs of most of the developed countries yet I cant recall them being discussed in the book.
So as tempting it is to consider Long Tail theory groundbreaking or at least brilliantly synthesising and capturing important micro-trend it's limitations are not disputable and openly admitted by Anderson himself in the epilogue. So if you expect the book to re-write basic rules of economy, it's very far away from it. But if you hope for more understanding of dotcom business environment, it might be just the right choice for you.
There is one particular motive in the book that I found very disturbing though. In the chapter called "Paradise of choice" Anderson directly argues with some of the ideas put forward by Barry Schwartz in his book "The Paradox of choice". Schwartz warns against overwhelming choice as potentially dangerous for our everyday mental comfort putting too much of unnecessary pressure on simple choices like a pair of jeans (or at least it seems simple to me). If "paradox" is a subtle way to describe the phenomena of growing variety of products, calling it "paradise" seems way out or proportion. Are we really getting closer to divine state of mind with growing number of tomato sauces, raspberry jams and more importantly with ultimately everyone of us watching different movies, different news channel on the web, reading different books? To benefit from diversity, to exchange opinions in a fruitful way we need to nurture common ground of understanding. Otherwise, we are heading into ever more fragmented society and it has nothing to do neither with Soviet era economy as Anderson tries to impute, nor with "paradise".
He details the main perceived features of a giant unexplored continent based on fast personal computers, broadband internet, mass publishing and search in what he calls the "Long Tail", something that was always there, but previously too difficult to access.
The book has a sketchy nature but he makes it clear that we are participants in the first stages of this exploration, and that he is not writing history after the event. Google, Apple, Amazon etc. are all making prosperous paths through a whole new world of possibilities but not really knowing where it all leads.
I have to give this book 5 stars for the best shot yet at explaining these remarkable events and showing how radical they really are.