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The Long Tail
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  • 1. LIS 7401
    Carol Rain Hagy
    April 23, 2009
    the long tail
  • 2. What are we talking about?
    the long tail
    the long tail
    Chris Anderson, in his 2004 Wired Magazine article, defined a new economic model. The internet has changed our marketplace.
  • 3. Traditional Thinking
    Pareto’s Principle (80/20 rule)
    hit-driven economics
    mainstream tastes
    products must “earn their keep”
    local supply and demand
  • 4. Graph taken from Flickr user b_d_solis, under a CC license . The original can be found here and the
    original poster does not endorse me or my work.
  • 5. Amazon
  • 6. Netflix
  • 7. iTunes
  • 8. the long tail
    There is clearly a demand for “unpopular” titles.
    The CEO of Ecast, a digital jukebox company, says 99% of the top 10,000 tracks sell every month (qtd. in Anderson, Wired).
  • 9. What makes these kinds of stores and services able to do this?
    Well, traditional stores (and other outlets like movie theaters and radio stations) need:
    • local shoppers or audience
    • 10. shelf space
    • 11. local inventory
    • 12. to fit into 24-hour-a-day programming
    • 13. to earn enough money to maintain local store
    the long tail
  • 14. the long tail
    But when a business operates online, it can avoid:
    • paying rent for as many places
    • 15. needing space for browsable shelves
    • 16. (sometimes) paying manufacturing costs
    • 17. (sometimes) paying distribution fees
  • This changes our entire culture.
    Suddenly,
    popularity ≠ profitability
    “misses” = hits
    the long tail
  • 18. This is “the long tail.”
    How does
    this
    apply
    to libraries?
    the long tail
  • 19. Some say libraries are the original long tail.
    • Our research libraries have deep historical collections.
    • 20. We offer a wide-reaching world of resources through Interlibrary Loan.
    • 21. We can get you that article in pdf form in hours.
    • 22. We wouldn’t be around if all we offered were Twilight and John Grisham.
    • 23. We were saying “Hey, if you liked A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, you might like A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin” long before Amazon invented an algorithm to do it.
    the long tail
  • 24. We have competition in some of these areas now, but we should not panic.
    Nor should we smugly assume we’ve got it figured out, of course.
    the long tail
  • 25. We need to be aware of the long tail and its power.
    the long tail
    • the long tail needs filters, sorters, and organizers
    • 26. remember the niche markets
    • 27. keep an eye on internet-based stores and services
  • Libraries suffer from the same physical constraints as traditional stores and services.
    the long tail
  • 28. One lesson: Aggregate supply and demand.
    aggregate, v.
    (ægrget)  [f. aggregate a. Cf. mod.Fr. agréger.]
    1. trans. To gather into one
    whole or mass; to collect
    together, assemble; to mass.
    “Aggregate.” The Oxford English Dictionary.
    Ed. J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. 2nd ed.
    Oxford: Clarendon, 1989. OED Online. 2009.
    Oxford UP. 23 Apr. 2009 http://dictionary.oed.com
  • 29. We aggregate supply with services like Interlibrary Loan.
    We have to keep figuring out ways to gather resources and make them accessible.
    the long tail
  • 30. We pull together demand by consolidating library web presences.
    the long tail
  • 31. Google Books Search
  • 32. Our culture is going through exciting changes and our libraries are, of course, growing too. Studying the long tail offers us some guidance and direction.
    the long tail
  • 33. Want to Learn More?
    Anderson, Chris. “The Long Tail.” Wired 12.10 (Oct. 2004). 22 Apr. 2009 http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html
    Anderson, Chris. The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More. New York: Hyperion, 2006.
    Anderson, Chris. The Long Tail Blog. 22 Apr. 2009 http://longtail.typepad.com/
    Dempsey, Lorcan. “Libraries and the Long Tail: Some Thoughts About Libraries in a Network Age.” D-Lib Magazine 12.4 (April 2006). 22 Apr. 2009 http://www.dlib.org/dlib/april06/dempsey/04dempsey.html
    Mossman, Katherine. “Serving the Niche: Viewing Libraries Through Chris Anderson’s ‘Long Tail’ Lens.” Library Journal 1 July 2006: 38-40. 15 July 2006. 22 Apr. 2009 http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6349032.html
    Cats: Percival Gray Walters and Tristan Cole Walters. Photos: Carol Rain Hagy and Nathan Walters.