The other Rex reviews ‘The Long Tail’ so I don’t have to: Rex Sorgatz was not expecting to find much new in the “eternal-work-in-progress” The Long Tail, by Chris Anderson. But, like me, the other Rex really likes it. (By the way, the other Rex now lives in Seattle where he works at Microsoft.)
“The Long Tail will zap you with enough aphorisms to instantly transform you into the hottest internet bon vivant at the next Valleywag-crashed party. Simply toss out these maxims over Web 2.0 martinis: “Scarcity requires hits.” “The mass market is turning into a market of niches.” “The era of one-size-fits-all is ending, and in its place is something new, a market of multitudes.” “If the twentieth-century entertainment industry was about hits, the twenty-first century will be equally about niches.” Are you writing these down?
But you realize an odd thing about 50 pages into this book: you’re not bored. You suspect you should be bored by either the pop economics or the glib utopianism or perhaps, alas, the hash tables. But, somehow, you enjoy the stories that illustrate the overall economic theories. And, most of all, the data points are simply delicious. You want to memorize them for the next time you argue with your friends about topics that feel true but which you don’t actually know are true.”
My observation: Journalists (as I point out here often) are notoriously intimidated, perplexed or bamboozled by data and statistics. Reporters often look for numbers that support a story they already want to tell. Chris Anderson, on the other hand, knows how to listen to numbers and let them tell their stories. The talent it takes to do that is rare…and, ironically, will help this book about the economics of the non-blockbuster, become a blockbuster. Which is good, as somewhere at the end of 2005, I predicted on one of those year-end lists Rex Sorgatz maintains, that Long Tail would be this year’s big hit.