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The long tail : why the future of business is selling less of more
Chris Anderson
Adult Nonfiction HF5415.127 .A54 2006

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Wired editor Anderson declares the death of "common culture" and insists that it's for the best. Why don't we all watch the same TV shows, like we used to? Because not long ago, "we had fewer alternatives to compete for our screen attention," he writes. Smash hits have existed largely because of scarcity: with a finite number of bookstore shelves and theaters and Wal-Mart CD racks, "it's only sensible to fill them with the titles that will sell best." Today, Web sites and online retailers offer seemingly infinite inventory, and the result is the "shattering of the mainstream into a zillion different cultural shards." These "countless niches" are market opportunities for those who cast a wide net and de-emphasize the search for blockbusters. It's a provocative analysis and almost certainly on target though Anderson's assurances that these principles are equally applicable outside the media and entertainment industries are not entirely convincing. The book overuses its examples from Google, Rhapsody, iTunes, Amazon, Netflix and eBay, and it doesn't help that most of the charts of "Long Tail" curves look the same. But Anderson manages to explain a murky trend in clear language, giving entrepreneurs and the rest of us plenty to think about. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Anderson (editor in chief, Wired) first wrote "The Long Tail" as a feature story for his magazine in October 2004. It enormously influenced techies, content producers, and marketers in pointing out that digital content and Internet catalogs have enabled such merchants as Amazon and NetFlix to sell, cumulatively, enormous quantities from their backlists of nonhits. In this expansion of that argument, he posits that we're past the age of blockbuster hits in music and other genres and are witnessing the rise of niches. But other than observing that physical retailers should have an online counterpart, it's not clear how much of a lesson the book offers to certain bricks-and-mortar retailers. Anderson takes issue with Barry Schwartz's The Paradox of Choice, arguing that people really do prefer variety-as long as they have information about it and about other customers' choices. He suggests that Google show the way, but he's a bit sanguine: ever tried to order a computer or a cell phone plan? Still, his conclusion that "the Long Tail is nothing more than infinite choice," combined with the question of the implications for our increasingly fragmented culture, will certainly generate symposia and discussion. For all libraries.-Norman Oder, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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