The one-sentence summary

Endless choice is creating unlimited demand so you probably need to re-think your business model: make everything available and help customers find it easily (online).


  • Endless choice is creating unlimited demand.
  • Traditional business models suggest that high-selling hits are required for success. These are at the high-volume end of a conventional demand curve.
  • But in the Internet era, the combined value of the millions of items that only sell in small quantities can equal or even exceed the best sellers.
  • Modest sellers and niche products are now becoming an immensely powerful cumulative force. In this respect, many “mass” markets are turning into millions of aggregated niches.


  • This is a very original and thought-provoking book. It takes a while to get into, but it’s worth it.
  • It introduces reasonably complicated mathematical theory in a user-friendly way, particularly micro-analysis of the very end of a very long tail. This is where helpful truths about the economics of your market can be seen properly.
  • Contemporary examples from music (radio and album sales), books and films lend a populist slant to the theory, which should appeal widely.
  • Old theories such as the 80/20 rule receive a thorough going-over. It’s never exactly 80/20, and the percentages can apply to different things (products, sales or profits). And they don’t add up to 100.
  • The nine big rules of the Long Tail are:

  1. Move inventory way in…or way out
  2. Let customers do the work
  3. One distribution method doesn’t fit all
  4. One product doesn’t fit all
  5. One price doesn’t fit all
  6. Share information (lose control)
  7. Think “and”, not “or”
  8. Trust the market to do your job
  9. Understand the power of free


  • The model works best with true Internet and digital products that do not take up any storage space. For example, Amazon books still require storage space that has a cost. I-tunes do not. So careful thought is required as to the nature of the market you are analysing.