It’s been a while since I last read Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail. Certainly it’s come under fire, along with several other texts, for promoting a digital utopia.
But the reason I need to re-read it is that people keep referring to it being disproved by digital sales stats.
For instance, the recent finding that most digital music titles sell fewer than 100 copies, and 32% sell one copy, from a Nielsen Study referenced by Bob Lefsetz.
The problem is that I’m pretty sure, even after all these years, The Long Tail explicitly states that the Pareto Principle of the top successes selling the majority of copies, will remain true, and that most of the ‘long tail’ titles will sell next to nothing.
The point is that having digital copies of single sellers, or those selling to 10 or 100 people, is cost effective for a business when compared with having them all available in a retail store. Amazon and iTunes still make a huge profit from amalgamating all those small numbers, just as Google does with Advertising, and Facebook, Twitter and other social networks are attempting from our data.
There are lots of reasons to question any theory or belief about the future, but it’d be nice if we could all strive for at least some accuracy when doing it…