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The Long Tail

18 September 2006

Chris Anderson's book The Long Tail has shown that the Internet has changed the way books can be sold forever. What's more, it has given new life to vast numbers of books which have only a small individual sale.

Anderson started this all with an article in Wired magazine last October, in which he showed how you could forget the bestseller focus which manifests itself in industries such as books, and pursue the millions of niche markets which are available online:

'What's really amazing about the Long Tail is the sheer size of it. Combine enough nonhits on the Long Tail and you've got a market bigger than the hits. Take books: The average Barnes & Noble carries 130,000 titles. Yet more than half of Amazon's book sales come from outside its top 130,000 titles. Consider the implication: If the Amazon statistics are any guide, the market for books that are not even sold in the average bookstore is larger than the market for those that are… In other words, the potential book market may be twice as big as it appears to be, if only we can get over the economics of scarcity. Venture capitalist and former music industry consultant Kevin Laws puts it this way: "The biggest money is in the smallest sales."'

Chris Anderson's blog

Anatomy of the Long Tail in Wired magazine