4. The Long Tail of Expertise

“We sold more books today that didn’t sell at all yesterday than we sold today of all the books that did sell yesterday.”

Josh Petersen, Amazon employee1


Whoever thought the power function would become an icon of popular culture? Chris Anderson’s and Clay Shirky’s terrific writings have achieved just that. The power function, once relegated to workhorse status in statistics, mathematics, and modeling, now graces the cover of popular books and appears in hip, trendy magazines. Its newfound status results in the ease in which it explains the market phenomenon of businesses such as Amazon.com.

The Long Tail concept has found applications in marketing, inventory strategy, Internet statistics, research, and ...

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