Books, Blogs, and the Long Tail

long tail

First things first… What is the long tail and what does it have to do with anything? Creator Chris Anderson defines it as “… the theory that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from the focus on a relatively small number of ‘hits’, at the head of the demand curve and towards a huge number of niches in the tail.”

The first thing that pops to mind about the long tail in reality is bookstores, both physical and online. Sites such as Book Depository and Amazon/ iBooks have a wider variety of genres available for readers. There’s hardly an instance where someone wouldn’t be able to find at least one book on any niche topic. This isn’t the case in actual bookstores though. There have been multiple times when I’ve gone into QBD or Dymocks, only to go home and purchase what I was looking for online. These shops are physically unable to stock every single genre of book out there.

I would even compare bookstores to blogs. There are hundreds of thousands lifestyle and beauty blogs out there at the moment, that provide readers with millions of posts. It’s getting to the stage where we won’t be able to compare this to lifestyle, beauty and even cooking books you can by in store. These blogs can be updated as often as the writer pleases, whereas book publication is very time consuming and restrictive. Beauty blogger Niomi Smart can keep her audience updated with the latest fashion trends, which would be unachievable in a book.

longtial

Reference:

Anderson, Chris. ‘About Me’. Longtail.com

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3 thoughts on “Books, Blogs, and the Long Tail

  1. While I’m not exactly a fashionista, the comparison between publication and blogging did help to broaden my understanding of the long tail effect, good work!
    It is interesting to not the price difference between book publication and blogging. With any possible revenue from blogging either coming from a donation system or advertising revenue generated from the number of hits the domain holder registers with your site, it seems as though you’ve (perhaps purposefully) hinted at the attention economy in this blog as well; a concept which books barely if ever rely on due to the physical copies being the value holder which is sold, as opposed to the information they contain.
    I may just be overthinking things, but it would be interesting to see if you agree.

  2. Hi Jess,

    I really enjoyed how you have looked at ‘the long tail’ effect from the perspective of a comparison from book to blog. You are so right in having understood the reason for authors to perhaps feel the need to change their writing methods from print to digital. It means ease of access for readers, topicality and relevance. There are so many positives! Though it also made me think, will their posts and their information withstand time like a book? Can they be used and referenced as relevant overtime? I also thought what happens if someone out there is blogging some incredible theoretical stuff that is being lost in the deep web and each second this incredible work is lost more and more due to an excess of information?
    Or with continual re-blogging do you think it might resurface? There is so much to consider when comparing books and blogs and information on either platform. Thanks for the inspirational thoughts 🙂

  3. This was a really good analogy on the long tail effect using a medium I am not familiar with myself, books and blogs. I can see clearly though the benefit of going from print to digital for many authors, opening them up to many customers who can easily and cheaply access their text. The focus on the economics was interesting as well, as it is something that is incrediblt important to both the provider and the customer. Well done!

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