The Long Tail, in a nutshell:
The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of "hits" (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail. As the costs of production and distribution fall, especially online, there is now less need to lump products and consumers into one-size-fits-all containers. In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks of distribution, narrowly-target goods and services can be as economically attractive as mainstream fare.
The Long Tail - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Anderson argued that products that are in low demand or have low sales volume can collectively make up a market share that rivals or exceeds the relatively few current bestsellers and blockbusters, if the store or distribution channel is large enough. Examples of such mega-stores include the online retailer Amazon.com and the online video rental service Netflix. The Long Tail is a potential market and, as the examples illustrate, successfully tapping in to that long tail market is often enabled by the distribution and sales channel opportunities the Internet creates.
A former Amazon employee described the Long Tail as follows: "We sold more books today that didn't sell at all yesterday than we sold today of all the books that did sell yesterday." In the same sense, the user-edited internet encyclopedia Wikipedia has many low popularity articles that, collectively, create a higher quantity of demand than a limited number of mainstream articles found in a conventional encyclopedia such as the Encyclopædia Britannica.
There is such a thing as too much choice - Jul. 12, 2006:
Still, I think his analysis is mostly right. The interesting question is whether all this choice along The Long Tail is an unalloyed good. "I think it's a net positive, but there are definite tradeoffs," Anderson told me, when I called to ask him. "Do we lose something as a society if we have less in common? How do we define ourselves as Americans if we are not sharing the same culture impacts?"