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July 2006 Archives

The Irony of the Long Tail

July 31, 2006 6:18 PM

Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson just came out with a new book, “The Long Tail,” a business tome with a subtitle, “Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More.” It’s only been in release now for several weeks and already it’s on The New York Times’ bestseller list.

The irony is that business, according to him, is no longer about hits. But judging from the book’s sales, Mr. Anderson already has a hit on his hands. He wrote and continues to write about the near-death of big hits, shows or, say, books that in the past had attained water-cooler success.

The future Mr. Anderson writes about is “the tail,” in other words all of those digital niche paths of distribution that the Internet now provides that in total equal or even surpass the mass market.

Some media critics have debated the accuracy of his numbers, but I’m not going there. I too am reading this book which started out as a print article in Wired then morphed into a blog, thelongtail.com, and now into this traditional 238-page hardcover book. So let’s talk about paths of distribution: I didn’t order this book on Amazon.com, but got it at Main Street Books, an independent book seller in Orleans, Mass.

If you’re reading this book—and I’m sure many of TVWeek’s erudite subscribers are—where did you buy it? Was it at a bricks-and-mortar outfit or did you order it online?

So, let’s in our own way either add credence to his theory or deflate or debunk it by talking about our own purchasing habits.