In Marketing class we also talked about "Long Tail" Marketing. You can read the original article by clicking here.
Basically, the author of the article is saying that there is more money to be made from online sales of non-hits than there is to be made from hits. His thinking is that although they are priced lower, there are so many of them you can't help but make a profit. Of course, this requires you to have plenty of bandwith and memory but that's fairly nonexpensive in comparisson to the kind of money there is to be made.
Hits make a lot of money at first but only about 20% of everything produced will be a hit. The rest will die pretty quickly and soon be out of print or otherwise unavailable. Stores like Amazon though, make pretty much everything there is available and with POD (print on demand) there is no reason for anything to ever be "out of print" again. Tools like the product recommendation program pull customers towards similar products and they become aware of less mainstream interests.
We didn't discuss this much in class although I wish we had. I'm not entirely clear with the article so I don't agree or disagree with it at this point. It seems to make sense, for music anyway. As for books, I'm not convinced at all and I don't think anyone else was either. It would be a good way to fill certain niches as the internet doesn't require people to be within a certain distance of a brick and mortar store but I think most people still prefer to buy their books from a physical store and have it immediately. They'll also tend to make more impulse buys in an actual store than online.
I think most everyone agrees going to an actual bookstore is nicer (but then go and buy online like I just did - hey! textbooks are expensive!)
There's something attractive to the idea of "everything is always available", from the buyer PoV anyway. But where does that leave quality? If you can afford to offer everything in the "off-chance it will find a buyer", then there's very little need for people such as editors and agents who separated the wheat from the chaff. I don't think it would be much good for authors either. When you're associated with crap, people assume you're crap too whether it's true or not.
So... thoughts? Comments? Explanations on how LT marketing really works?
3 months ago