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The Long Tail

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Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 12:31 pm    Post subject: The Long Tail Reply with quote

Great lecture on the Long Tail featured at

The concept is that with an expanded ability to market product...e-commerce for example...products that may once seemed unsaleable or obsolesced suddenly have value. The rare non-existent CD becomes the on demand available mp3...because the cost of storage is so little, and you can make infinite copies, it's worth your while to store the product.
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Joined: 17 Mar 2006
Posts: 712
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2008 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've felt the effects of the long tail in several ways, both as a buyer and a seller. As a seller, I've found a way to sell 20-100 postcards related to a single city or topic. As a buyer, I can buy an out-dated electronic device for pennies on the dollar, download a manual, and buy accessories on eBay to make it work.

I've also found eBay vendors willing to sell overstock CDs and books for little more than the shipping charge. Sometimes even that is discounted.

The long tail makes 3 things possible. I find: 1) specialized collectors (completists) can find the obscure item they never knew existed, 2) regular buyers can build an instant collection of that new artist they've "discovered" and 3) the "easily pleased" can purchase a vast storehouse for little more than the cost of shipping.

Recently, I've gone on a buying binge of CDs, in part to give as gifts. I'm among the easily pleased, so I'm not particular about which Sarah Vaughn disk I'm bidding on, for example. So far, I've bought 25 CDs for under $10. Shipping for these is about $40. It's not just CDs. Many items cost less than their shipping cost.

Oddly enough, people buy and sell food coupons on eBay. To cover the legal end, sellers say that the coupons themselves are free, and that buyers are paying for their time to clip, sort and list them. I find that we are living in a time where many items are essentially free, and we pay for the shipping and processing. What was once a classic come-on, "free* (plus shipping and handling)", has become a normal, straightforward transaction. After all, what is that vendor going to do with that odd book or CD? There is only one market: eBay.

In this case, it gives me a chance to indulge my fondness for cover/tribute albums, to find out if I like a particular opera singer from the 30s, and find country music for my uncle. This is an incredible age: the vast majority today have the ability to live better than kings and princes of 100-200 years ago (modulo status).

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