Blogging the Bookshelf

Blogging my bookshelf – one book at a time

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“The Long Tail”, Chris Anderson

July 16th, 2009 · No Comments · ICT, Policy

Long tailSynopsis: As search, storage and distribution costs trend towards zero in an increasingly digital world the economics of commerce are changing. While massively selling high-demand ‘hits’ remain important, lower costs have made it economical to trade in an ever increasing ‘Long Tail’ of low (but not zero) demand niche products a la iTunes, Amazon, eBay etc etc.

My Take: Should be seen as one of the most influential books written in recent years. Neatly identifies and summarises the paradigm change in the economics of culture and commerce that has been brought on by the Web 2.0 world. I’d read the original article this book was based on a while back so I thought I was across the concept and I wasn’t in any hurry to read the extended version, but now I’m kicking myself for not having read it earlier. There are insights on every page.

Highlight: Some stunning facts about the history of media consumption including:

  • In 1954, 74% of houses with TVs tuned in to watch “I Love Lucy” (compared with only around 19% who watch the highest rating show on TV today – “CSI“).
  • When the VCR was introduced in that late 1980s, early 1990s, movie distributors tried to sell videos at retail for $70-$80 a pop! Unsurprisingly, high market power content providers have struggled to deal with all historic changes to their market.
  • Finally, the most amusing description of the skills of a DJ I’ve ever read Clubgoers vote instantly with their feet, relaying their decentralised expectation and preference info to the DJ in aggregate”. ie they leave the dance floor if they don’t like the music! (To be fair, this sentence is in no way reflective of what is an extremely accessible book).

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