In case you haven’t already heard or read about it, in 2004 Chrs Anderson (editor of Wired magazine) wrote an article describing a concept he called ‘The Long Tail’. The idea hit a nerve and now has a blog of its own and a book is in the works (due out in May).

Here’s a quick summary describing what the long tail is all about:

It started with a question: “What percentage of the top 10,000 titles in any online media store will rent or sell at least once a month?” Most people answer 20%, applying the 80:20 rule (20% of products will generate 80% of the sales). The correct answer is 99%. Online stores are challenging traditional market theories – they have unlimited shelf-space so are able to offer the full range of products and hyperlinks enable buyers to connect seemingly unrelated items together through purchase recommendations made by other buyers – the hit and the miss are put on equal footing.

Chris Anderson disovered that, for example, the average Barnes & Noble book store stocks approximately 130,000 titles. More than 50% of Amazon’s book sales come from outside its top 130,000 titles. In other words, the market for books not even sold in the average book store is larger than the market for those books that are. I’d recommend reading the article (if you haven’t already) and blog for a more detailed description.

Today The Times published the top 50 best selling books of 2005 and I could not resist creating a chart from the numbers to see what sort of curve was produced.

Begin drum roll…

Introducing one long tail:

🙂 And that’s just from the top 50 books. Imagine what it would look like if you stretched it across the entire range of books sold in 2005.


Post filed under: growth lines

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