by Chris Anderson
published by Hyperion
© 2006 by Chris Anderson
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From Reed Business Information
Wired editor Anderson declares the
death of "common culture"—and insists that it's for
the best. Why don't we all watch the same TV shows, like we used to?
Because not long ago, "we had fewer alternatives to compete for
our screen attention," he writes. Smash hits have existed largely
because of scarcity: with a finite number of bookstore shelves and theaters
and Wal-Mart CD racks, "it's only sensible to fill them with the
titles that will sell best." Today, Web sites and online retailers
offer seemingly infinite inventory, and the result is the "shattering
of the mainstream into a zillion different cultural shards." These
"countless niches" are market opportunities for those who
cast a wide net and de-emphasize the search for blockbusters. It's a
provocative analysis and almost certainly on target—though Anderson's
assurances that these principles are equally applicable outside the
media and entertainment industries are not entirely convincing. The
book overuses its examples from Google, Rhapsody, iTunes, Amazon, Netflix
and eBay, and it doesn't help that most of the charts of "Long
Tail" curves look the same. But Anderson manages to explain a murky
trend in clear language, giving entrepreneurs and the rest of us plenty
to think about.
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