When I saw The Long Tail had been regarded as the next big business book by a couple news outlets, I was skeptical to whether or not I would like it. Althouhg, it had been mentioned in the same breath as one of my favorite books, Blink, and the author is the editor of of my new favorite magazines, Wired, so I thought I would give it a chance. The Long Tail chronicles how the growth of the Internet has lowered the impact of the “hit” market and increased the impact of the niche market. Chris Anderson discusses, among many things, how a normal “bricks and mortar” store only has limited shelf space, so the amount of the product they carry pales in comparison to a place like Amazon. In other words, more different kinds of products can be made available by online retailers since they do not have to spend as much money trying to move product off their shelves. Also, the means of production are now cheaper for the average person. Just ten years ago, you needed expensive equipment to produce a song or a video. Now, people are regualrly creating their own music and television shows and making it available to people. Since more products are available and many different kinds are available, people are able to find exactly what they want instead of settling for what is presented to them by the major media and retail corporations that have controlled our spending for so many years.
I thought this book is definitely worth the hype surrounding it. In this day and age when people expect the big hit, it is refreshing to see that we might actually be moving towards a day and age when the choice of MANY products takes precedence over choosing between a few products. I guess that day has already come, but it has not fully arrived yet. I like being able to decide what I think is worth buying instead of feeling like I need to choose between the lesser of a few evils. And with the ability to produce music, movies, and artwork at home, we are moving away from just consuming cultrue to producing. We are, hopefully, becoming a culture where people want to “do-it-yourself” instead of settling for what is on the shelf. I hope to one day self-publish a book of my artwork…and now, I feel like I can actually do that. I would never thought that day was possible even just a few short years ago. It remains to be seen, though, how money can be made from all of these niche markets, but for now, it is great to see the large availbility of so many prodcuts slowly dissolving the hit machine. Long live the Long Tail.