The Long Tail Tale
Many online merchants have looked for profits in the "long tail"—the niche markets—but an economist questions whether the numbers add up.
THE SOURCE: Should You Invest in the Long Tail?” by Anita Elberse, in Harvard Business Review, July–Aug. 2008.
Wired editor Chris Anderson made a big splash in 2004 with his article (later a book) touting the revolutionary coming of the “long tail.” His thesis: that online companies such as Amazon and Rhapsody could cheaply market hard-to-find products such as offbeat song tracks or books, and the individual sales from such niche products would stretch out in a “long tail” on a sales chart, eventually overtaking the high-...