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In order for The Long Tail to make up a viable business option, the cost of storage and the cost of delivery has to go so low that selling more of low-volume individual, 'niche' product collectively overtakes selling less numbers of high-volume 'hits'.
Once, the referrals and reviews create a definitive demand for the niche product, the price charged also can look upwards.
Many would think that this can happen only in a pure digital play world only.
But, the brick-and-mortar retailers also can get several pointers to critically examine the elements of their business model on the basis of several concepts outlined in the book, and can work out an altogether a radically different model that can have best of 'strong head' and a powerfully wagging 'long tail.
The book does succeed in kindling a long tail of thoughts on the subject of "Why the future of Business is Selling Less of More".
 

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An excellent, eye-opening book. The examples are everywhere.

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So happy I'm not the only one that felt this book was repetitive and stating the obvious. I'm not even half way through the book and I keep finding the same information regurgitated over and over again. If you are a person that has to be told something a million times before you "get it", then this may be the book for you. Would like to see more "meat and potatoes" (case studies, results, strategy, action items, etc)... Sorry, but I don't even think I can finish this one now that I know the rest of the book is more of the same.... 

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The Long Tail: The Review
Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail is an interesting book that discusses the digital revolution of the internet and its effects on how business has changed. The internet has
forever changed the face of business with new technologies its ability to reach virtually anyone, anywhere in the world. The book emphasizes the concept that there is virtually a market for everything. Any idea, product, or service can be marketed in a manor where an audience will be reached and lay somewhere along the “long tail” of a statistical graph.
Especially appealing to entrepreneurs and business people, The Long tail encourages innovation and pursuing opportunities. Anderson talks of a “niche culture” and the concept that anything can practically be made into a market. If something is presented online in a manner that attracts interested people and consumers, then potential customers will eventually come. Anderson argues that as soon as something goes “digital” the dynamics of a product change. People become interested in the digital version and want to buy it. Although niche products would not normally command a lot of attention and sales, overtime consumers flock to the product purchase it. Over a period of time as the sale add up, it creates the statistical long tail that the digital revolution created. Ideas spread quickly on the internet.
The author describes digital files as another aspect of the revolution. For example, iTunes, the virtual music store, can practically have any form of audio or visual media posted on its website, as compared to a mom-and-pop store that has limited shelf space. This concept all but puts traditional music stores out of business since they have limited selection and higher overhead costs. The competition makes it difficult to compete with the digital world.
Another topic Anderson goes into detail about is the power of filters. Filters help consumers narrow down what information they seek about products or services. They can “tailor” the results they seek. Although filters have been around for a long time, they are now making their presence felt on the internet, and in a very powerful way. Since there is an abundant amount of information everywhere on the internet, there has to be a system to filter or index what you need to find, quickly. Companies like Google and Amazon are such services that enable the power of filters. They have changed the way people find, use, and share information. These companies are central to enabling the long tail to exist. Without their filtering capabilities, it would be difficult to find that one niche product or service that you need, but cant seem to find.
 

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In the 2006 book “The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More”, author Chris Anderson expands on his 2004 feature article in Wired Magazine discussing how niche markets are becoming increasingly important. Our economy is transforming from a mass-media powered market to niche markets. No longer are we forced to have to watch what’s broadcast on a few channels, we can watch whatever we want on Hulu, Youtube or what’s been saved in our DVR. We do not have to listen to fuzzy radio stations, we can create our own station’s using Pandora, last.fm, or by plugging in our iPods. The new commerce model is all about consumers having what they crave rather than being force-fed by mass media. This book chronicles the shift into a new era of commerce and consumer choice.
So, what is this “long tail” and why is it so important? First, it is important to understand the basic statistical background on which the long tail is based. The long tail refers to a normal curve in statistics, more specifically, the Pareto principle. The Pareto principle suggests that “80% of the consequences stem from 20% of the causes”. Applied to business, you could say that “80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients”. Chris Anderson claims in his book that “our culture and economy are increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of hits at the head of the demand curve (the 20%), and moving toward a huge number of niches in the tail (the 20%)”.
That being said, Chris Anderson says that the long tail is the “death of the 80/20 rule”, because nothing is exact when measuring mass-markets vs. niche markets. It could be that 80 % of sales are controlled by 10% of the population, or 95/20, or even 90/30. Either way, sales of mass media currently outweigh niche markets, but that may soon be changing.
There are three “forces” that affect the long tail. The first force is democratizing the tools of production, which means that the larger amount of things that are available, the longer the tail extends to the right. A level playing field will create opportunity for more people to participate. For example, now that camcorders and other movie equipment are increasingly cheaper, more and more people will make movies or short films. The top 20% would be mega-blockbusters made by big-time move studios, the other 80% are movies made by independent filmmakers or videos floating around the internet.
The second force is cutting the costs of consumption by democratizing distribution. This is saying that when markets become easily accessible to people with less money, more people can participate, causing the tail to “fatten”. A good example of this is eBay. Before eBay, if you wanted to open a store you had to buy a physical location to run your business and create a supply chain that brought everything to that location. With eBay, all you need is an e-mail address and you can sell thousands of things and only have to worry about shipping costs.
The third and final force is connecting supply and demand. This means that the more information there is about products, the more people will be able to know about them. The barrier to entry here are what Anderson describes as “search-costs”, which include wasted time, hassle, wrong-turns, dollar value and confusion. Using a service that decreases search-costs allows people to get what they want faster and easier. Some examples of services driving the third force are the blogosphere, Netflix, iTunes, and best-seller lists.
The Long Tail is saying what many people already know to be true. That is, as technology increases, niche markets become increasingly easy to access. Now, as the costs of connecting supply and demand decrease, the nature of the market is changing. Demand will inevitably shift towards niche markets, which means that companies will want to find ways to market towards the new majority.
This book presents a very interesting idea, one that I am personally very excited about. It
 

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Ground-breaking analysis of trends! And what an amazing concept!

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awsome book

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great book

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Interesting point of view and provides a new way to look at many industries. I found it a bit repetitive throughout and thought that it lacked practical advice on how to spot and harness the Long Tail in more traditional businesses.

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What is the major change brought to our society after we entered the netizen era? Some may say it's the free download of almost everything, or it's supre-abundance of information, or it's the gossip about anything rampant and fast on the web. But Chris Anderson tells us, what the internet has created is the "Long Tail" of almost any kind of commodities or services. The once neglected and overlooked niches become profitable. The "Hits" don't have so loud a say as before. Enterprises, if wise and aiming at long-term success, should dig deep and thoroughly to form their own long tails. Google, Amazon, Yahoo!, etc. are all successful examples.
Sagely written, this book can be read both for fun and for a serious study of our comtemporary era.
 

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