« What is the Long Tail? | Main | Long Tail TV »

January 09, 2005


Jim Treacher

I'm the third one from the left. You can tell by the dimples. Also the dimples in the face.

Noah Brier

I vote for number one (enough small markets make a big market). I like the fact that it doesn't reference sellable goods, but instead mentions markets. In my mind the long tail extends well beyond just products.

Josh Petersen

I use to work at Amazon.com on the personalization features that fuel the long tail. Here's how I described the long tail to a marketing guy who didn't get it (and thought we should focus more on bestsellers): "We sold more books today that didn't sell at all yesterday than we sold today of all the books that did sell yesterday."

We are building a new long tail of the internet's aspirations at http://www.43things.com

Let me know what you think.

Stephen Balbach

Just put up an initial Wikipedia article called "The Long Tail"


It borrows from Bob Bakers definition.


Reading your blog I am reminded of the 1983 G. Harry Stine (under the pen name Lee Correy) SF novel Manna. While it's still in print (Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0879978961/qid=1105466355/sr=1-21/ref=sr_1_21/102-5364052-8103306?v=glance&s=books, no referrer code), the only other useful web mention I found of it was a three year old blog entry of mine (http://www.billsaysthis.com/blog/blogarch.phtml?archdate=2001_12_09_blog_archive.phtml#7781381). Stine died in 1997 so no surprise he doesn't have a personal site, but I recommend the book highly.

David Locke

There is never a final definition. Concepts compete. The competition changes the words.

James Governor

I am beginning to call it the End of Shelf life....

Slippery Pete

To me, the long tail where niche product (or whatever) lives...as opposed to a merely customized or personalized mass market product. Some fuss has been made of the idea of mass customization over the past few years, but using technology to serve niche needs goes beyond customization.

Helen Hockney

The Problem of finding a cocktail party definition to The Long Tail is the term you are trying to define in the first place.
1)The Long Tail phenomenon, as you so brilliantly articulate it in your Wired piece, is not a noun, not a description of a static thing or event, but rather a process. The long tail itself is merely a definition, or rather a description of the part of a graph depicting the mathematical formulation of the laws of scarcity – or of Pareto’s principle. But what you are describing in your writing is the process, enabled by a new technology, of accessing that long tail in a way not possible before. By referring to it as merely The Long Tail, you are grasping for that Editor’s attempt to Headline. And rightly so. We need a quick way to refer to the 5 pages you outlines in WIRED, and certainly we need a title for your much anticipated book. But the headline needs to have a VERB added to it. Because it’s a process, not a principle like the power curve.

So, pick your verb: my favorite is, "Mining". Mining the Long Tail. I like the imagery. One mines for diamonds, treasures, data...etc..

But other verbs may do — accessing, reaching, spotlighting, ..

If you notice in the google slide you posted, it says Serving the Long Tail. The verb was necessary. It is necessary in defining your concept of it as well.

Once you’ve added that verb, a definition becomes much easier, and many of the ones already in your list work fine. For example, Mining the Long Tail is the process by which,____ and then fill in the rest of the definitions on your finalist list.

Mining The Long Tail is the process by which,
-- the sum of many small markets is worth as much, if not more, than a few large markets." --Jason Foster
-- the obscure becomes ubiquitous.”-- Eric Akawie
-- the 80% of stuff that didn't used to be worth selling.”--Greg
-- products that were once considered fringe, underground or independent now collectively make up a market share that rivals the bestsellers and blockbusters." --Bob Baker

My own submission for the new title: Mining the Long Tail is the process, via a new technology, of transforming the physical limitations of current selling and distribution systems so that very small niche products, that previously fell into the bottom 80% of the power distribution curve, can now profitably find their market.

Then, depending on which cocktail party it is, If the person at the cocktail party asks “what is the power distribution curve?”, you can explain that. And that would be the classic definition of the long tail, or Pareto’s principle.

2) The Long Tail itself, even as it is defined by Pareto, is not a fixed event. The graph depicting the 20/80 power law is merely a picture of a distribution in a given point in time. But the elements that make up the curve are never the same at any moment. Even before the internet and digital technology, obscure authors could suddenly find a better agent, big name artists could suddenly fall out of favor, trends and natural events changed demand, and hoola hoops or face masks suddenly went from one end of the curve to the other overnight. The new technology is changing the dynamics, momentum, size of that process and as you pointed out, possibly the actual ratio of the power law itself. But a dynamic process is what you’re defining, not a fixed graph. Thus the verb in your title is essential from this perspective as well.


I've been using longtail in targeting keywords for my niche. great post.


mens gold jewelry

mens gold jewelryGoldenMine offers Father's Day gifts, gold jewelry, diamond jewelry, diamond wedding bands and engagement rings. Free Shipping! Shop Now.

questions universe

Gotta love the smart readers.

The comments to this entry are closed.


The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Notes and sources for the book

FREE was available in all digital forms--ebook, web book, and audiobook--for free shortly after the hardcover was published on July 7th. The ebook and web book were free for a limited time and limited to certain geographic regions as determined by each national publisher; the unabridged MP3 audiobook (get zip file here) will remain free forever, available in all regions.

Order the hardcover now!