Book Review: The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

The Long Tail is one of those books you noticed getting referenced a lot once you start reading through the business section. In fact, Seth Godin still references it in his daily blog every so often. When I saw it in my used book store I finally picked a copy of Chris Anderson’s 2006 best seller. 

What is the long tail? If the Pareto Principle described the short head (the 20% of product that drives 80% of sales), The Long Tail described the rest (the 80% of product that drives the rest). As Chris Anderson points out, the 80% of product that accounts for 20% of sales when you’re managing retail space is not something your fond of; but in the internet age when shelf space doesn’t cost you anything the long tail can now become very profitable (think of ebay, Spotify, or Amazon).

What’s particularly interesting about this book is reading the trends predicted 15 years ago that came into fruition. One of the major drivers of the long tail is the land of niche’s, and one of the biggest contributors of niche culture is the democratization of tools (think: podcasting, blogging, youtube, etc.). 

As 1,000 true fans suggest, once you know how to use these tools – if you get highly specific with your niche making a living doing so all of a sudden becomes feasible. The Long Tail helped me to understand the economics behind this concept and what makes it possible.

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