Seriously, We’ve Been Dying To Work “Long Tail” Into A Post

March 29th, 2005 · No Comments
by Booksquare

Oh sure, normally we’re not shy about working our favorite topics into this blog, but sometimes things don’t work out the way we hope (usually this has to do with too little time, to little brain). However, in keeping with the trend of building buzz, The Guardian picks up on the idea of how entertainment media can jump on the bandwagon. First, a brief introduction:

Anderson points out that, in the real world, there are physical limits on how many titles a shop can stock, or a cinema can show. These are the economics of shortages. For example, an average American movie theatre can only show films that will attract 1,500 people over two weeks, and almost all of those will live within a 10-mile radius. It is hardly surprising that relatively few movies ever get a showing, and cinema distribution has almost no tail at all: you go straight from hero to zero.

However, if you start adding avenues of distribution, opportunity increases. Rather than the few receiving everything, the few receive a lot while the many receive some. The more avenues open to the consumer, the more chances there are for an obscure movie, album (yes, feelign old-fashioned), or book to reach an audience. The shelf life of product increases.

As with everything, this has great advantages (increased sales) and disadvantages (such as determining an out-of-print date) for writers. Smart (or perhaps powerful) authors — and stop us if you’ve heard this one before — will try to retain as many rights as possible while negotiating contracts that have reversion of rights clauses in their favor. Agents should be pushing the revamping of this clause as well; a book locked away from the public doesn’t make much money.

But, the publishers sputter, we want to get us some of that there long tail. Yes, of course you do. And you should. This is not an either/or situation. Authors and publishers can benefit from this brave new world. You are going to revisit your business with an eye toward increasing revenues for the products you’ve licensed. You’re going to consider distribution from the perspective that you need to do it better than the next guy. You will consider ways to make everything in your catalog available, not just the stuff sitting on bookstore shelves. You have all that cool stock in the warehouse, you have the rights to many more titles, why not make a few bucks.

As always, we remain available to offer even more advice on this matter.

File Under: Square Pegs