August 2, 2006
The Long Tail in Book Form

There has been a lot of talk in media studies and across the industry over the past year about Wired editor Chris Anderson's Long Tail theory, which looks at the combined profit made available from allowing everything in an archive be available...hence there being a long tail of media consumption.

According to the theory, while physical media stores can only make available the most popular merchandise, digital warehouses that can store scores of content will make more profit on the merchandise that wouldn't fit into a bookstore or music shop than it would on the top sellers.

Of course, Anderson's own book won't be able to be studied as an example of his own theory, at least not at this point, becuase it has landed him at number 10 on the New York Times hardcover non-fiction best-sellers list at present time. The book, which was released on July 11, has helped expand the reach of Anderson's theory and also has given space for him to elaborate on the meaning of his theory and its implications on the media universe.

This Sunday's New York Times features a short review of the book which includes a quote from his recent appearance on All Things Considered, attributing the rise of his theory to the popularity of the "infinite shelf space" provided by media distribution juggernauts iTunes, Amazon, and NetFlix.

I know most of the C3 team and many visitors of the site may be familiar with Anderson's theory, and we've written about it many times, such as with the way that the theory is enabling sites like TV Shows on DVD. Anderson's work is a perfect example of the meaning of convergence culture and is well worth a look for understanding both the business and cultural reasoning behind the rise of these new distribution forms over the past few years.