Category Archives: The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Paradox of Choice Versus The Long Tail

“The conventional wisdom was right: More choice really is better. But now we know that variety alone is not enough; we also need information about that variety and what other consumers before us have done with the same choices. Google, with its seemingly omniscient ability to order the infinite chaos of the Web so that what we want comes out on top, shows the way. The paradox of choice turns out to be more about the poverty of help in making that choice than a rejection of plenty. Order it wrong and choice is oppressive; order it right and it’s liberating.”

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The Long Tail Complements the 80/20 Rule

“The 80/20 Rule is chronically misunderstood, for three reasons. First, it’s almost never exactly 80/20…

“The 80 and the 20 are percentages of different things and thus don’t need to equal 100…

“People use it to describe different phenomena. The classic definition is about products and revenues, but the Rule can just as equally be applied to products and profits.

“…I’ve described the Long Tail as the death of the 80/20 Rule, even though it’s actually nothing of the sort. The real 80/20 Rule is just the acknowledgement that a Pareto distribution is at work, and some things will sell a lot better than others, which is as true in Long Tail markets as it is in traditional markets.

“What the Long Tail offers, however, is the encouragement to not be dominated by the Rule.” (p. 131)

Why Textbooks Cost So Much Money

“It’s worth taking a moment here to understand the used-book market. For most of the past few decades it has actually been comprised of two very different markets. About two-thirds of it was the thriving and efficient textbook business that centered around college campuses…

“Used textbooks are a model of an efficient market–every year millions of students buy and then resell expensive volumes they need only for a single semester. The set of books with resale value is determined by the published curriculum of core classes; the price is set by what competition there is between campus bookstores; and the supply is replenished twice a year.

“Textbook publishers don’t mind this very much because it means they can actually charge more for new copies, since the buyers know they have a predictable resale value. Indeed, the economic model at work here is more like a rent than a purchase. Typically, stores buy books for 50 percent of the cover price and then resell them for 75 percent. Depending on whether the student is buying new or used, that ‘rental fee’ is between half and quarter of the list price of the book. This arrangement works so well that the used-textbook market in the United States is now a $1.7 billion enterprise, accounting for 16 percent of all college store sales.” (p. 86)

Why People Blog: Meaning of the Word Amateur

“…We’re starting to shift from being passive consumers to active producers. And we’re doing it for the love of it (the word ‘amateur’ derives from the Latin amator, ‘lover,’ from amare, ‘to love’). You can see it all around you–the extent to which amateur blogs are sharing attention with mainstream media…” (p. 63)