A Switch on the Long Tail

This, obviously, is a picture of Chris Anderson's book, The Long Tail (sitting atop the box for my new business card scanner). What's less obvious is that this book was custom-printed for me, very long-tail fashion, at the public library near me. I stopped by to see the massive machine chugging out custom-printed books for people, and the nice woman running the gizmo -- about the size of five large copy machines, and taller than a short basketball player -- told me Chris had awarded them the right to print 100 copies of his book, because the idea of printing books on demand fits his long-tail concept. (Most of the books were classics that are no longer under copyright.)

I've been thinking about the Long Tail today because of a breakfast I went to hosted by Jack Myers, for whom I do some work, called "Monetizing the Video Long Tail." I came away convinced that it will be possible to make money off of user-generated content and all the other niche-y stuff that's going online in video today. I wrote a more in-depth explanation for Jack in a column that goes up tomorrow on JackMyers.com.

We usually think of the long tail as being on the Internet. I guess the book proves it that technology can enable it to function in meat space (or meet space) as well.

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