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July 31, 2005


Jeremy Cherfas

To call Simon Hopkins "quite anonymous" is, I hope, a failure of translation. He has long been a mainstay of good food writing in england.

Alessio Iacona

Dear Jeremy,

I'm not a food expert so tht's probably why I've never heard about Mr Hopkins. But it seems I'm not the only one:

The Telegraph:
"After eight months on top of Amazon's best-seller list, J K Rowling was yesterday dethroned by a relatively unknown food writer."

Probably "quite anonymous" was too strong an expression, but that's where information came from.

thanks for your attention


Jem Stone

Just to give you more context about this. This isn't really an example of word of mouth (similar to the Touching the Void example cited in your original article).
The excellent "Roast Chicken and Other stories" by Simon Hopkinson (and Lindsay Bareham) was last week voted the most indispensable cookery title by a specialist food magazine in the UK; Waitrose Food Illustrated. The results of the poll received extensive press coverage in the UK as this is a relatively obscure book by a relatively obscure author (although a highly respected one) and because it had outpolled TV celebrity chefs such as Delia Smith and Jamie Oliver.
This sudden media attention has no doubt done wonders for its demand and explains the surge up the amazon lists. And its Hopkinson not Hopkins!
So its some of the "old media" filters that have done the trick here.

John "Z-Bo" Zabroski

Chris is right. Product explosions happen all the time. Even in small social groups, one person starts out reading a good book and it makes its way to one more person, and then even more from there. Among programmers I know, Andrew Koenig's Accelerated C++ started out with one person reading it and within three months almost everyone read about it. Product explosion is necessarily a Long Tail effect as Chris already said very well. However, if that product explosion never could have happened because the material never found a willing publisher, then that would be a Long Tail effect. Chris has already put an idea like this in his Long Tail Sidebar, from a New York Times article: ''Companies like Random House and Simon & Schuster want to find Deepak Chopra; they don't want to find a writer necessarily who has an audience of 10,000 people,'' says John Feldcamp.

james governor

the arguments against all ring true. but if the book was written ten years ago and the buzz is only really building now that surely has some long tailness about it?

megan conklin

Sorry so late to this party, but I wanted to respond to the last commenter who said

"if the book was written ten years ago and the buzz is only really building now that surely has some long tailness about it"

I think what you're asking for is for this book had a graph of its own -- the x-axis of the long tail graph (for just this book) shows sales per month, and the y-axis showed sales. Then you could see the long tail for JUST this book.

(I'm not sure if studying such tails would be appropriate for the general research on this site -- "rags to riches" stories are essentially long tails of a single product over time -- but it would at least answer the question you're asking.)

The comments to this entry are closed.


The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Notes and sources for the book

FREE was available in all digital forms--ebook, web book, and audiobook--for free shortly after the hardcover was published on July 7th. The ebook and web book were free for a limited time and limited to certain geographic regions as determined by each national publisher; the unabridged MP3 audiobook (get zip file here) will remain free forever, available in all regions.

Order the hardcover now!