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Book Review: The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

The Long Tail is an interesting book that was written by Chris Anderson, who earlier played a role as the main editor of the Wired Magazine. The book was published on 11th July, in the year 2006 by Hyperion. His articles and book have marked a tremendous sale, not only in the US but also in the whole world. The book reached significant success and was marked in The New York Times as the bestselling item. In his book, Anderson adopts a theory where he claims that the economy and culture has been tremendously shifting away from the intended focus of mainstream markets and products. Anderson argues that the demand curve have been directed towards the enormous number of niches in the tail. Anderson’s book is critical while analyzing the market behavior and mainly reviews demand and supply of goods in the market. He uses an appealing language that has drawn many people to understand the economic concepts revealed in the book. The goal of this paper is to empirically review The Long Tail book in terms of its purpose or claim, organization and summary, critical evaluation, success of its aim, convincement, strengths, and weaknesses.

The Principal Purpose or Claim of the Book

Chris Anderson fundamentally and empirically focuses on the effect of demand and supply of goods on market behavior. He argues that as the cost of distribution and production decreases, particularly in the online market, there is no need to channel the consumers and products into one scope. The scenario is more evident and understood at the time when there is lac of bottlenecks in distribution and physical shelf space barriers. He claims that the approach merely targets services and goods that are aimed to be economically attractive such that they endorse mainstream fare. To explain this concept, Anderson uses an example of popularity and products theory. In his theory, he checks the prediction regarding the demands for products that are not available in the traditional bricks. He states that mortal stall is potentially important and well covers the significant demand for products. Therefore, Chris Anderson focuses on the online and TV platform considering them as the appropriate areas to conduct the business.

Organization and Summary of the Book

Chris Anderson organizes his book into chapters, which express distinct or similar concepts. The Long Tail by Chris Anderson consists of fourteen chapters. In chapter one, he presents an overview of the information entailed in his book. The section analyzes the supply and demand of the market; it also reviews the e-market and the features that distinguish it from the physical market. At this junction, Anderson presents the central theme of his book that is how the products with little demand and sales can enhance the market share and overcome their rivals. He indicates that this can be only achieved if the distribution store and channel are large enough. The concept is empirically presented in the first topic.

In chapter two, the author discusses how the “head” is the top of the tail. In this chapter, Anderson tries to analyze the most successful enterprises and the means that the business person can use to achieve their level. In this chapter, Anderson clearly confirms the fact that the typical readers and audience of his book are the business leaders. The section is heavily linked to the “Journal of Product Innovation Management”. He states that product development can be refined by the readers if they consider it in the perspective of the voice of customers, disruptive products, and globalization.

Chapter three is a fundamental part of the book and focuses on the real market situations. Moreover, the book reviews internet examples such as the long tail phenomenon that had two hundred variation and items, the catalog of the Wishbook from Sears, etc. Consequently, the local consumers are provided with the immense selection of excellent merchandise. Anderson states, “Many of our assumptions about popular taste are artifacts of inadequate supply and demand matching (Anderson, 2006).” Thus, due to the increasing networks potential, the viewers will be able to identify their preferred commodities. Evidently, consumers can interact with thousands of channels in an online platform that takes analogous preference.

Chapter four of Anderson’s book reviews particular demand and supply conditions that are deemed necessary for allowing the targeted services and goods to appear economically attractive. Chris argues that in order to sustain the long tail, supply must be followed by the demand. In this chapter, Chris is skeptical in such a way that he analyzes an ideal market where the law of demand and supply must be adhered to. He also mentions three forces of the long tail. The forces focused in this chapter include, “make it, get it out there, help me find it (Anderson, 2006).” The concept is attractive and identically engaging.

Chapter five focuses on the new producers venturing into the market. The number of producers can be never raised, without increasing the demand for the products. He argues that if the producers were increased, then the typical increase in demand must be also reflected. Chris was focusing on an ideal market that obeys demand and supply curves. He endeavors in examines the consequences of increasing the number of producers in the market. He affirms that raising the number of producers in a typical market is a sensitive issue. He attributes this to the global democratization of information and tools. Apart from advertisement, business people and organization should search other means of publicizing their products. He claims, “Google Tap and Netflix consumer wisdom collectively by watching what millions of them do and translating that into relevant search results or recommendations (Anderson, 2006).” Such an atmosphere supports a bazaar, where both niche and hits will probably prosper. He refers to the connection between demand and supply as a filter.

The chapter six of his book focuses on the new market. It is supported by his claim where he argues, “Long tail is a culture unfiltered by economic scarcity (Anderson, 2006).” The chapter analyzes a typical company that collects enormous products; later they can be found easily in an ordinary single place. Eventually, he gives a realistic example of such accompanies. These are the website companies such as eBay and Amazon that deal with physical goods and Craigslist dealing with services, ITunes that deals with digital products, MySpace dealing with user generated content and Wikipedia for information (Anderson, 2006). These innovation aggregates are quite fundamental because they play an important role in matching the integrated technology solutions with the market insights. These technological solutions help to delight the customers.

Chapter seven is an imperative one in the book; it endorses innovation and plays the role of discussing the new tastemaker. He uses the concept of “Top- down messaging” to bring the idea of losing traction. He also used the concept of “bottom-up buzz” to affirm the idea of gaining power (Anderson, 2006). He claimed that through such an approach they will measure the taste of the entire market and consumption pattern for the first time in the history. The achievement will enable the economist to adjust to the market in order to ensure that the consumer taste and design have been catered for. It is also defined that filters will allow people to move from the world of hits to the world of niches. Chris stated that they would be moving from unknown world to the known one. The route is termed as comfortable approach since it is tailored to their taste. Consequently, he affirms that the most selling goods are of high quality as compared to the less selling products. Chris also mentions the pre-filter, and he defines them as the filters that are applied prior to the arrival of the products in the market. Different groups of pre-filters include buyers, executive, editors, and marketers who investigate and predict what is likely to be desirable in the targeted market. However, there are pro-filters, which are acting as the vocal sound of the marketplace. Pro-filters have a significant impact on the company’s products and brands. He states that “a company’s brand is not what the company says it is rather it is what Google says it is (Anderson, 2006).”

In chapter eight, Anderson focuses on the “Long Tail Economics”. In order to explain elaborately these economics, he examines the Pareto contracts scarcity, abundance- centric opinion on economics and distribution. In other words, he was checking the significance of abundance choice, wealth distribution, and abundance shelf shape (Anderson, 2006). He succeeded in making several conclusions in the in long tail market. Firstly, he realized that people could offer many products. Secondly, since it is easier to find individual, products sales are evenly spread between niches and hits. Thirdly, hits are piratical to the economics of niches; therefore, profit can be realized at almost all stages of popularity.

Chapter nine is a short one that discusses a short head; Chris develops a significant linkage to chapter two. The media culture and entertainment in this chapter are defined as follows: firstly, as trying to predict demand; secondly, they serve “as a desperate search for one-size-fits-all products (Anderson, 2006).” Thirdly, these are defined as limited choices and, finally, as pulling “misses” off the market. Thus, a successful long tail aggregators should consider both niches and hits. He compares MP3.com and Apple iTunes using this approach.

In chapter ten, the author discusses the pros and cons of the choices. He argues that making a proper choice depends on whether the individual has all the necessities required to cater for the decision. A better decision will be successful if the necessary tools are available. He defines some dynamic methods used to find the products. For example, keywords support and long nail aggregators (Anderson, 2006). He deems this better than the predefined ones.

In chapter eleven, the author discusses the niche culture that is more or less similar to that the one discussed in chapter four. In chapter twelve, the author focuses on the infinite screen. He views the idea of having the video online instead of TV as a contemporary issue. However, he deems online videos and TV as a critical platform for increasing distribution channels and stores (Anderson, 2006). Significantly, this is reflected in the company’s growth.

Chapter thirteen entails long tail that perceived to be beyond entertainment. Anderson compares entertainment to the realistic world involved with the manufactured goods and services and information aired on the television. The chapter presents attention-grabbing ideas. There is no reflection of what is sold online and in the videos regarding the processes involved in the manufacture (Anderson, 2006). Therefore, the online platform may significantly influence customer’s preference.

Chapter fourteen serves as a concluding part of the book. The author explains why The Long Tail has been used a a ruling method since it was invented. The last three chapters are entertaining; however, they leave several unanswered questions. For example, the author fails to mention that Jefferson died in a horrible situation due to his debts.

A Critical Evaluation of the Book

Anderson portrays the “Long Tail Economics” as equally important and truthful as the broadcasts and videos that are available on the TV. He compares the neglected vital concepts of demand and supply in the market to those videos and music that are not played on the TV and radio stations. He affirms that the size of the small market is fundamental. Ironically, most small marketers are convinced that they can earn profits only if they venture in the large market. Thus, they do not utilize the opportunity presented by the small market.

Anderson is perilous in his analysis; he states that “traditional retail economics will only dictate what the stores could stock and the most likely hits that emanated from shelf space (Anderson, 2006).” He attributed this to the expenses that are encountered during the business operation. Anderson argues that online retailers, such as Amazon, can virtually stock everything, and the available amount of niches products will probably outnumber the hits (Anderson, 2006). The concept is supplemented by the hits and the magnitude of the orders. Anderson terms the millions of niches as the long tail. He claims that the niches have been widely neglected, but with the recent favor of the short head of hits they have become a turnaround of the events. It, therefore, implies that if the consumers are offered with an infinite choice of products, the actual shape of demand will be revealed. Consequently, it appeared to be the less hit centric that Anderson and majority economist have expected.

Anderson affirms that the reason for which people descend towards the niches is attributed to the fact that they satisfy the narrow interest in a better way. Therefore, Anderson asserts that regardless of people’s aspects in life, they have narrow interests, and it does not depend on whether they consider in the same way. Therefore, Anderson endeavors to explain that “products that are in low demand or have low sales volume can collectively make up a market share that rivals or exceeds the relative few current bestsellers and blockbusters, only if the store and distribution channel is large enough (Anderson, 2006).” This forms the principal purpose or claim of The Long Tail by Chris Anderson.

Success in its Purpose

It may be concluded that the book succeeds in its purpose. From the readings and discussion presented n the book, it is proved that the products that are less in value and have high demand can exist in the market share. This can only be achieved through the presence of distribution channels and stores that are large. The claim is evident because some companies, such as iTunes MySpace, Wikipedia, that possess such attributes have achieved success through the existence of large store and distribution channel.

Level of Convincement of Claims

It should be noted that the book fully convinces the reader of its claims. Market size is one of the determinants of the business success. From the book, one may realize that those companies that earlier had a small market place were not expanding their business. When the companies, such as eBay and Amazon, endorse large online markets, they grew exponentially (Anderson, 2006). Thus, the presence of large store and distribution channel is vital for the development of any business. Considering these advantages, the book is satisfactory and convincing of its claim.

Major Strengths of the Book

The book is paramount since it avails the significance of online business to the business persons and innovators. Additionally, these persons are equipped with ideas that will assist them in matching their business activities with the markets needs while taking into account the available technology. The book presents the technology solution into niches and hits experienced in the marketplace. It also demonstrates the paradigm shift of the market and underway. The book is promising to most entrepreneurs since it presents the product concept selection, commercialization involved, development, and adherence to the selection criteria (Anderson, 2006).

Major Weaknesses of the Book

The book presents some positions that were not adequately supported; consequently, they suffered serious omissions. In the discussion of the sharing of ideas on the web platform, the author quoted Jefferson. He argued that if a person takes an approach, it does not diminish the predecessor idea (Anderson, 2006). Therefore, such a statement lacks elements of truth. The author does not mention that Jefferson died in a horrible situation due to his debts. Moreover, Jefferson claims that his practices are entirely different. He overemphasized the statement about Google as a search engine. However, all the search engines bring forth similar results.

Conclusion

The Long Tail by Chris Anderson is an amicable book. Anderson provides a strong foundation in the first chapter that completes the ideas in the other chapters. His book is comprised of fourteen chapters. They all relate to the business and economic aspects that affect the day-to-day human life. Anderson clearly identifies his claim throughout the book, which seems to be raised in almost all the chapters. He analyzes demand and supply throughout the emerging market platforms such as TV and online markets. Anderson uses credible examples to support his claims throughout the book, hence making it interesting for a reader. In fact, it is quite informative to people who are interested in understanding market forces of demand and supply. Despite its major weakness of foundational truth about Jefferson, the book is engulfed with numerous strengths. In other words, it is an educative and illustrative piece of Anderson’s works.