The Backlist

Over the past few days I’ve seen references to The Long Tail, a nondescript title which reminds me of a rat, but until reading Gordon Weakliem‘s comments I cared not a whit about reading that article. The long tail is not a rat’s, but the 80% of the curve in a Pareto distribution: the long, shallow end.

The article summarizes the observed effects of eliminating the scarcity of a good. The economics of abundance are paying handsomely at Amazon, Google, eBay, and NetFlix. Goods that would otherwise be marginal, with high physical costs for distribution, are found to have high margins, and not insignificant demand, once they’ve been made available.