Chapter 16



In 2004, Wired Magazine editor Chris Anderson wrote an article called “The Long Tail,” which he adapted into a book with the same title in 2006. From the book description on

The Long Tail is really about the economics of abundance. New efficiencies in distribution, manufacturing, and marketing are essentially resetting the definition of what's commercially viable across the board. If the twentieth century was about hits, the twenty-first will be equally about niches.

Chris Anderson, The Long Tail

I read both the article and the book when they were published, and they made a big impression on me. More than anything, the idea of the long tail gave me a way to think about how the Web is changing marketing and commerce. Once the big idea was clear in my mind, it became a tool that I could use to discuss a company's marketing and distribution strategy. It was a powerful concept that explained one of the Web's biggest impacts on business strategy.

But as you can see from the previous description, words just don't do the idea justice. Let's look at what else has been written about the basic concept of the long tail.

The current Wikipedia article begins:

The Long Tail or long tail refers to the statistical property that a larger share of population rests within the tail of a probability distribution than observed under a “normal” or Gaussian distribution. ...

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