The Long Tail Book Summary - The Long Tail Book explained in key points
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The Long Tail summary

Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More

4.3 (30 ratings)
22 mins

Brief summary

"The Long Tail" by Chris Anderson explores the power of niche markets and the democratization of culture and commerce through the internet, turning hits into a phenomenon of the past.

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    The Long Tail
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    In the world of online entertainment, a market of niche goods in small but steady demand rivals a market of hits.

    There’s an established demand curve in any industry: the most-valued products generate the highest demand (the head of the curve) and the least-valued generate the smallest (the tail).

    We’re inclined to think of bestselling books and blockbuster movies – goods at the head of the curve – as the prime sources of profit. But, in the present economy, businesses can thrive by offering a large selection of goods that appeal to many small groups of people.

    In other words, nowadays businesses can succeed by using the strategy of the “long tail.”

    The fact is, when it comes to total sales in an online market, a sufficient number of niche titles can compete with the best sellers.

    For example, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos recognized the potential of the internet to offer an unprecedented selection of books. Amazon offers approximately five million books on its website, whereas the largest superstores can only carry around 175,000. In fact, Amazon’s statistics reveal that books that aren’t available in the average bookstore make up over 30 percent of the existing market.


    In short, popularity is no longer necessary for profitability. In the online market, to sell a niche product is just as valuable as selling a “hit.”

    Consider the online music-streaming service Rhapsody. It offers more than 4.5 million songs and each track – regardless of whether it’s one of their top 900,000 – gets streamed at least once per month. Since every track costs the same price and generates the same profit, it doesn’t matter to them whether 20,000 people buy the same track or whether each member purchases whatever tracks they like.

    And, like Amazon, a huge number of Rhapsody’s total sales (45 percent) come from tracks that aren’t also sold in traditional offline retail – suggesting that there’s a demand for a bigger selection.

    That’s the essence of the “long tail” concept: a huge number of relatively unpopular products can rival a small number of very popular ones.

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    Key ideas in The Long Tail

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    What is The Long Tail about?

    The Long Tail challenges existing notions of the market and the entertainment industry by looking at the massive influence of the internet on the economy. Due to new modes of content creation and distribution, it can be more profitable to offer a large number and wide variety of products that appeal to niche consumer groups rather than one certain “hit,” e.g., a blockbuster or bestselling book.


    The Long Tail Review

    The Long Tail (2006) by Chris Anderson explores the power of niche markets and the shift from hit-driven industries to abundance in the digital era. Here's why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • It sheds light on the untapped potential of the internet, showing how businesses can thrive by catering to diverse interests.
    • Using compelling examples from various industries, the book illustrates how the long tail phenomenon revolutionizes the way we consume and produce content.
    • The book's insightful analysis of consumer behavior and market dynamics challenges traditional thinking, making it a captivating and thought-provoking read.

    Who should read The Long Tail?

    • Anyone who deals with online sales
    • Anyone interested in alternative economic theories
    • Anyone working in the media or entertainment industries

    About the Author

    Chris Anderson is an author and entrepreneur. Previously, he was the Business Editor at The Economist and Chief Executive Editor at Wired magazine. In addition to The Long Tail, Anderson has also published Free: The Future of a Radical Price and Makers: The New Industrial Revolution.

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    The Long Tail FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Long Tail?

    The main message of The Long Tail is that niche markets can be just as profitable, if not more so, than mainstream markets.

    How long does it take to read The Long Tail?

    The reading time for The Long Tail varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Long Tail a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Long Tail is a thought-provoking read that explores the power of niche markets. It offers valuable insights and is definitely worth reading.

    Who is the author of The Long Tail?

    The author of The Long Tail is Chris Anderson.

    What to read after The Long Tail?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Long Tail, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Buyology by Martin Lindstrom
    • Positioning by Al Ries and Jack Trout
    • Co-Intelligence by Ethan Mollick
    • Objections by Jeb Blount
    • Search Inside Yourself by Chade-Meng Tan
    • The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes
    • TED Talks by Chris Anderson
    • Either/Or by Soren Kierkegaard
    • The Hunger Habit by Judson Brewer
    • Atomic Habits by James Clear