The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Check out the book I’m reading this month:

The Long Tail” by Chris Anderson takes a look into the cultural economics that occurs when distribution costs become nearly eliminated… Thanks to the Internet.

If you’ve studied statistics, you may recall what a “Long-Tailed Distribution” is… where the tail of the curve is extremely long relative to the head… and this is where the birth of the “Long Tail” concept started.

The long tail phenom is that given unlimited choices to a consumer, “everything becomes available to everyone”… Anderson might as well called it, *The Economics of Abundance.*

How does it apply to us as Authors? We can have book success without ever having a hit at the top ten lists of any major critic; Our articles can reach massive distribution and be seen by tens, hundreds of thousands or millions of humans without the author having to pay a dime for postage; We can research the long tail to discover what our specific niche audience is looking for that hasn’t been satisified yet in the marketplace and that becomes the topic of more articles.

The Long Tail ensures we will never run out of topics to write about; nor will we run out of readership demand because of the 98%/2% rule that is covered in this book.

Some of our authors have exploited “The Long Tail” by specifically writing articles that address the highest in-demand article content of their specific niche segment as uncovered with simple keyword research tools. This is brilliant!

How does the long tail apply to Publishers? Content that was previously unprofitable to publish immediately finds an audience, interest and eventually some currency.

But hey, I’m only on page 11 and 227 more pages to go! I’ll let you know when I glean additional insights from Anderson.

Can you see how the long tail impacts your Internet business channel?

Has it impacted the topics you write articles about?

Does owning ‘the hill’ or only writing to “produce a hit” make any sense if the long tail says that the riches are in the tail and not the head of the demand curve?


Edward Weiss writes:

Or put another way…it’s the information age and easy access is what it’s all about. Nine times out of ten I’ll be able to find the type of information I’m looking for on the net without having to go to the library or buy a book. The internet has made accessing information easy and, for the most part, free!

I for one am very grateful to have internet access yet most people (around the world) still don’t. This will probably change soon as well. Thank God for the internet. I mean, where else could you find information on pretty much ANY topic in the world?

Comment provided July 3, 2006 at 8:04 PM


Lance Winslow writes:

Well said Edward! I too am a fan of the fluidity of information flow that the Internet provides. The Internet is one of the greatest communication tools ever created for the Human Race. I believe this is a very apropos book for any Founder of an Internet Category Killer to read. I will pick up a copy myself, because this is a very good recommendation of a book to read and it provides a glimpse of the direction of information flow.

It makes sense to see into the minds of the Google folks to anticipate the Road Ahead, which is another great book to read. I think if someone is serious about the Internet and running a successful business then they need to read all the books of all the Leading Companies that survived the .Com bust and just kept going.

There are some great books out their from the founders and Presidents of Ebay, Amazon, Cisco Systems, Oracle, IBM, Intel, AMD, Microsoft, HP, Apple, Dell, etc. and I have learned a lot and found pearls of wisdom in all of them.

I just wonder when Chris is going to write another book, this one on and its rise to a Super Category Killer, from scratch? I am sure he has not lost his writing touch with all this back-end server database work, which is the backbone to the number one online article submission website in the Solar System.

Comment provided July 3, 2006 at 8:33 PM


Ed Howes writes:

This all touches directly upon the recent surge in philanthropy and the asking of meaningful questions by the likes of Bono and Steven Hawking about bringing hope to the hopeless. I saw photovoltaics, laptop computers satellite communications and battery power storage as the key to bring Afghanistan directly into the 21st Century, providing alternatives to warlords and opium. The important thing is to bring millions more under the long tail on a regular and accellerating basis. This would be the best use of billions in philanthropic giving. Until one knows there IS something better, she cannot hope for, desire or pursue it and raises her children to know no more than she.

Comment provided July 14, 2006 at 11:39 AM


Bill Kruse writes:

I see the long tail as making it finally feasible to make films about ideas rather than entertainment. Movies that ask you to think as opposed to gawp have traditionally had a hard time getting financial backing. The theory seems to be that the slack-jawed yokels who pack out cinemas for Arnie movies won’t be queuing to have their brains stretched as opposed to clubbed into submission. Now, though, through the long tail, there’s a way of reaching the starving minds of the intelligentsia and hey! – making a profit too, always good.
My point? It’s going to be a whole lot easier from now on to be making money from making people think – consequently we may by using ideas to foster intelligence realistically be able to increase the IQ of the population overall. Coo!


Comment provided July 16, 2006 at 12:55 PM



It is indeed the Global Information Age, but I would go one step further and predict the morphing of the online written word into the online Information Age of video. The long tail stretches from the cinema to the video camera and we will all have instant access to the here and now as seen through the viewfinder.

Comment provided January 6, 2009 at 2:48 PM



Thanks Chris! This is great information, especially as people are zooming into the skills and methods needed for innovation– the key to surviving in good and challenging times. Wealth in information leads to wealth in innovation.

Comment provided January 6, 2009 at 4:03 PM


Maureen Lawrenz writes:

Been on my amazon wish list for a while. Been recommended several times. You might provide me with the incentive to get it. Keep letting us know how you find it.

Comment provided January 6, 2009 at 6:55 PM



2 years later… I don’t think I recommend anyone should get this book.

It’s not because it isn’t a good book, but because there is not much you can glean from it in terms of actionable advice.

Comment provided January 6, 2009 at 7:22 PM


Gareth Powell writes:

Ahem. It depends who is doing what. Take me for example. I am a writer and, as it happens, a publisher. I read Chris Anderson’s book and it changed the way I worked. With Graham Earnshaw in Shanghai, me in Sydney, we started a publishing company which does Chinese related books on abstruse subjects. Because of Print of Demand we do not need to print large numbers. Because of the Internet we get excellent orders.
I seriously commend people to read the book which makes a major difference to the way you do business if you are a small time entrepreneur. And, I am sorry Christopher, but it is full of actionable advice. True, it is not written by one of those obnoxious self-help books but it is an excellent read and encourages you to try niche markets. And historic books on China is as niche as you can get.
Just done a search of Amazon and it IS in stock at about $11. I heartily recommend it. And I do not know the author or the publisher.

Comment provided January 6, 2009 at 8:41 PM


Mel Menzies writes:

I was particularly interested in what you have to say, Chris, and also in Ed Howse’s and Bill Kruse’s comments. Despite being a published author with several major publishers for over twenty years, and with a No. 4 Bestseller under my belt, I had to self-publish my latest book. All my publishers expressed interest providing I wrote it autobiographically; none was interested in the novel I wanted to write.
So, on the recommendation of a well-known writer friend, I went to an American company, Booklocker. Not only did they produce an excellent product, they also produced an excellent marketing strategy which included – you guessed it – info on The Long Tail and EzineArticles! To someone like me, that was gold. There is no way that I would have learned of either on my own and, had it not been for them, I would still be slogging round the bookshops. As it is, sales of my book are doing well online.
Ed Howse’s comment? He writes about bringing hope to the hopeless. That is my mantra and the raison d’etre of my book. Titled A Painful Post Mortem it is the story of how my daughter kicked a thirteen year heroin addiction. If that isn’t hope for the thousands of parents around the world watching their kids destroy themselves, I don’t know what is. Thanks for your input. It’s invaluable. Mel

Comment provided January 7, 2009 at 3:25 AM


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