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July 20, 2006

The Long Tail Wraps Around

In an irony not lost on its author, Chris Anderson’s book The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More, which describes how the web enables the end of hit-based distribution in many fields including music and books, has itself become a hit. The success of The Long Tail is also illustrating one of its conjectures:  best-sellers drive traffic to the right side of the curve, the long tail, where less well-known entities would otherwise languish unknown.  Current online attention to The Long Tail is driving new readers to Fractals of Change and indirectly helping to sell copies of hackoff.com.

Out of equal measures of vanity and curiosity, I monitor traffic on my blog and blook sites. For the last couple of days I’ve seen increased traffic on both sites.  Drilling down,  a tool called SiteMeter tells me that an unusual number of new readers have been referred from Chris Anderson’s own blog (named The Long Tail, of course) and from the Long Tail lens on Squidoo to this blog.

Usually a cluster of links from another blog means that blogger has just posted something with a link to my site.  But Chris hasn’t blogged anything about me lately.  So what’s going on?  This is my favorite kind of detective work.

Here’s some more information (we mystery writers like to dole out facts this way).  Chris posted about a way of gaming Google AdWords way back in December.  I posted that Google might not be unhappy about this since much of the cost is born by blogs which run Google AdSense. Chris runs references to posts about the long tail phenomenon in the sidebar of his blog and put a reference to my post there in December.  There is also a link to my post in the Squidoo lens Chris maintains (not sure how long that’s been there).

OK, you figured it out.  The Long Tail currently ranks #5 among all books on Amazon and #2 in non-fiction. The blogosphere is full of references to both Chris’ book and his blog.  Page views for his blog and his lens must be soaring.  There is nothing new about Fractals of Change there but a small percentage of his huge pool of new readers find their way through the old reference to this site.  A fairly constant percentage of new readers of Fractals go to hackoff.  More new readers at Fractals means more at hackoff.  And a percentage of those who go the hackoff.com site buy the book hackoff.com: an historic murder mystery set in the Internet bubble and rubble.

QED.  Sales at the head translate into sales on the long tail.

But it doesn’t stop there.  A tool called MyBlogLog tells me where people link to when they leave my site.  An unusual percentage of readers  have been linking out to my post about Chris Anderson and to earlier posts I wrote about the long tail concepts here and here.  These links happen, I’m reasonably sure, both because readers came to my blog from his blog and are interested in him already AND because regular readers of my blog are aware of the of the publicity Chris and The Long Tail are getting.  Once an item is a hit, almost everything reinforces its hit status.  That’s what power curves are all about.

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» Links of Interest (At Least to Me) 21/07/2006 from Eoin Purcell's Blog
if:book has a very interesting article on print on demand, networked books and the reader as editor. Here The above link makes reference to an article in the NYT which as ever with the Times falls a little short of satisfaction. Here If you have heard ... [Read More]

» Long Tail Theory In A Nutshell from Caffeine Marketing
Chris Anderson developed The Long Tail Theory in Wired magazine back in 2004 to describe how economic business models of Amazon.com, Netflix, and others have created their riches. His book only recently came out. A former Amazon employee described the ... [Read More]


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