Who hasn’t heard of the long tail? Actually, quite a few people if my experience is any indicator. If I try and explain it, or use a diagram in a presentation, I often find my work cut out in telling the story.
While I believe the long tail is an extremely significant concept, finding a clear and concise definition that helps me explain it is pretty tricky. The one I tend to use as the start point for some discussion is this one from the originator, Chris Anderson:
The Long Tail is about the economics of abundanceâ€”what happens when the bottlenecks that stand between supply and demand in our culture start to disappear and everything becomes available to everyone.
I then sometimes add this anecdotal phrase from the Wikipedia definition page:
A former Amazon employee described the Long Tail as follows: “We sold more books today that didn’t sell at all yesterday than we sold today of all the books that did sell yesterday.”
All not really good enough, though. Maybe I don’t understand it well enough in order to explain the concept to others.
So I just ordered a copy of The Long Tail, the hardcover book that has just come out. Should be here in a couple of days, according to Amazon UK. Hopefully, enlightenment will be there.