Chris Anderson’s book, The Long Tail showed up on my doorstep this morning. I ordered it months ago from Amazon (it’s official release according to Chris’ blog is July 11th.) Anderson’s book is subtitled, Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More. From the introduction:
Most of the top fifty best-selling albums of all time were recorded in the seventies and eighties (the Eagles, Michael Jackson), and none of them were made in the past five years. Hollywood’s box office revenue was down by more than 6 percent in 2005, reflecting that the theatergoing audience is falling even as the population grows.
Every year network TV loses more of its audience to hundreds of niche cable channels. Males age eighteen to thirty-four, the most desirable audience for advertisers, are starting to turn off the TV altogether, shifting more and more of their screen time to the Internet and video games. The ratings of top TV shows have been falling for decades, and the number one show today wouldn’t have made the top ten in 1970.
In short, although we still obsess over hits, they are not quiet the economic force they once were. Where are the fickle consumers going instead? No single place. They are scattered to the winds as markets fragment into countless niches. The one big growth area is the Web, but it is an uncategorizable sea of a million destinations, each defying in its own way the conventional logic of media and marketing.
If you’ve been reading Chris’ blog, you’ve been following his Long Tail story. From Wikipedia:
The phrase The Long Tail, as a proper noun, was first coined by Chris Anderson, drawing on an influential essay by Clay Shirky, "Power Laws, Weblogs and Inequality" that noted that a relative handful of weblogs have many links going into them but "the long tail" of millions of weblogs may have only a handful of links going into them. Beginning in a series of speeches in early 2004 and culminating with the publication of a Wired magazine article in October 2004, Anderson described the effects of the long tail on current and future business models. Anderson argued that products that are in low demand or have low sales volume can collectively make up a market share that rivals or exceeds the relatively few current bestsellers and blockbusters, if the store or distribution channel is large enough. Examples of such mega-stores include the online retailer Amazon.com and the online video rental service Netflix. The Long Tail is a potential market and, as the examples illustrate, successfully tapping in to that long tail market is often enabled by the distribution and sales channel opportunities the Internet creates.
The book looks as good as Chris’ blog reads. I’ll probably grab a few hours to read part of it this long weekend and I may comment further. If my reading habits of late hold true, however, I’ll get about a third of the way into the book and move onto something else – probably a little escapist fiction.
If you’re interested in what Chris talks about – read his blog. Also read the writings of Terry Heaton, Doc Searls, the 37signals blog, Grant McCracken, Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki. It will all make sense.