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The Long Tail


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The Long Tail

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