« Sizing the book tail | Main | Friday Fanboy: the Zen Micro + Rhapsody To Go »

November 07, 2005


Ignacio Rodríguez

Digital music UP 300% !!!

Source: IFIP



Love to follow your thoughts here, but still hoping to drive you towards greater rigor in your specifics about my backyard, book publishing. For starters, the figures you link to here are from 2004. Not this year.

Secondly, you've linked to a gross oversimplification of what Greco and the BISG found for 2004. It makes your case sound better, but it's not right. (Dollars were up; adult trade was up;... etc.)

Chris Anderson


Thanks for the good catch--those were indeed 2004 stats, not 2005, although I can't seem to find anything newer. Do you have a link?

As for the accuracy of the remarks, that was the American Booksellers Association, which one would have thought would get it right. I did find these stats, which paint a brighter picture, but I'm not sure how to reconcile the two. Do you have any advice (or, even better, data)?

Chris Anderson


Great catch. I've corrected the post accordingly.


Paul Irish

and Television?

Chris Anderson


Thanks for the catch. I had TV in the orginal version but it seems to have been deleted in one of the updates. It's now restored.


Mike Hogan

The three largest shareholders of newspaper company Knight Riffer (KRI) are pressing for a company sale due to slow revenue growth in the newspaper industry. Is this an isolated incident or is Knight Ridder merely the first domino to fall as the newspaper continues to bleed?

Kevin Marks

Why is DVD in mixed? A dip in the 2nd derivative is not shrinkage.

Arun D

That article on DVD mentioned $40 DVD players but then made no mention of the product moving into the mature stage of its life cycle.

A slowdown in DVD growth would be expected at some point.

Additionally, are there any figures of DVD rentals? Speaking personally as an early DVD adopter, I used to buy them up all the time, even if I'd never seen the movie... new toys for my more expensive toy. I still buy DVDs, but am now more discerning, and more likely to rent if I'm not sure.

I'm not sure if studios have gone down this road in the US yet, but in Australia they do have rental window titles similar to the old VHS model. The rental shops get exclusive copies months before retail does, and they have to pay 5 times the price for the priveledge.


We buy many many more books than we used to - but hardly ever new. Just go to Amazon, put in any book that comes p we want and wait until a used copy shows up in an inexpensive range. This is certainly less wasteful & we get a lot more books; it doesn't, however, do the authors/publishers any direct good.


Thinking about it, I realized that one thing that the internet has that many of these old media don't is the ability to deliver only what the user is interested in receiving. Why pay for a magazine for one or two stories or a newspaper if you only want the sports section. Google and Yahoo make it possible to find many different reports on a single story or issue, which most publications don't give you.

If and when electronic paper arrives, and you can buy a reader the size and clarity of a book, book publishing won't need paper anymore, although there will always be people who love owning books and paper is still the best archive medium we know of, unless we what to go back to animal skins, clay and stone tablets or engraved metal.

These guys are the buggy whip makers of the 21st Century.

Michael Faring

You may be understating the case. A lot of people are turned off of newspapers and magazines with political content because of the extreme biases they often find in the editorials and in the reporting. Journalism majors seem to be from the bottom of the barrel, and getting worse.

Ed Poinsett

I like to read in bed. I can't ever imagine taking a PC to bed to read. So, I'll always be a customer for paper whether is is a novel or the newspaper. However, I don't buy the newspaper anymore since they have moved the editorials to the front pages. I want the newspapers to tell me the good and the bad. They only want to feed me the bad. I know the old saw that blood sells papers, but TV does blood better. So give me good indepth reporting without so many anonymous sources and opinions and I'll go back to reading the papers.

Music and movies,it seems to me are aimed at a 15 year old mind set. I may go to the theater once a year, but there is usually nothing entertaining to see unless I want to watch things blown up, or the most dastardly disgusting murders and mayhem.

You can probably tell that I'm a Senior citizen, but there are 60 million of us with money and time. That seems to be a pretty good market opportunity for someone in the entertainment industry. With the baby boomers joining us, the market will expand in the future, but for the time being, I'll put my discretionery income to use in something that isn't terrifying but pleasant.


I go to the library a lot. There are authors I enjoy, and read again, and buy everything they put out (in paperback - easier to carry.) There are many more that are forgettable.

Best of all, I don't have to be lectured about the cause du jour by somebody who gets paid a lot of money to pretend to be or do something. The media is driving people like me away.

Lastly, what about things that don't show up on the radar screen at all? My wife and I like to rent Japanese TV shows from the local Oriental Grocery store. The local cable company killed the International Channel because the market is just too small here. There are more choices all the time. Live theater being one. I've seen some good local plays, and The Phantom of the Opera was worth every penny.


I'm too old and creaky to read in bed without a book table any more. The finest reading medium I have ever experienced was a backlit laptop in near-darkness, reading stuff from a Baen cd-rom. My wee wifey has hundreds of cookbooks formatted for Mastercook. We still hoard books as objects.

Tim in PA

I generally don't bother with TV, newpapers, most magazines, or movies. For the most part, the news is poorly written by fools who often don't have a clue what they are writing about; movies seem to keep getting more and more lame each year.

And of course, I'm likely as not to be buried under hysterical anti-war crap no matter what the subject matter is. Hell, I don't even like Bush, I'm a small-L libertarian, but the "OH MY GOD! QUAGMIRE! HALIBURTON!" crowd is really getting on my nerves.


Two developments:

A couple attending a screening of a film in Toronto were searched before entering the theater and their cell phones taken, then returned upon exiting the show.

Sony includes spyware on its music CDs, apparently to gather evidence for lawsuits against copying. I make copies of music CDs to play in my truck so that the originals don't get scratched and ruined, and so that I can make my own collections to play. No more purchases from Sony.

Recently a company called clean flicks discovered a market for editing videos of various movies which the clients had purchased to remove offensive language and content. They were sued for violating copyrights. Now film companies make these cuts themselves to provide to airlines and broadcast TV, but they won't sell them to the public.

If media companies keep treating their customers like thieves and insist on insulting their values, what should they expect?

Jim Rockford

I disagree on the reasons for the Mainstream media meltdown.

I don't think it's the Long Tail (I'd say the Long Tail is over-rated in scope of application). As noted for bringing content directly to consumers it's great, but it doesn't solve the overall problem of the Mainstream Media.

Which is that most people just are not interested in what they have to offer. Movies, Music, and Newspapers are the most obvious, with far too many efforts to either slice off ever smaller pieces of the pie, or pre-manufactured products that are supposed to appeal to young audiences but depend on massive promotion.

Look at movies. There are basically NO young stars younger than Toby MGuire (he's 30) that appeal to guys. Josh Hartnett, Jude Law, Colin Ferrell, Jake Gyllenhall, Sean William Scott, Johnny Knoxville, Chad Michael Murray, Ryan Phillipe, Topher Grace, and Ashton Kutcher were all tried, and found wanting. Yet Hollywood STILL pushes pretty boys instead of young guys who can portray young men (instead of boys). Right now Jake Gyllenhall is being pushed as the new young male star. Featuring Brokeback Mountain and Jarhead as starring roles. Don't know about you, but if I wanted to have a male star that appealed to guys he'd be playing good guy hero roles and definitely not a gay cowboy.

Hollywood thinks this is a good idea because the execs are culturally cocooned, often 3rd Generation (along with writers and producers). Unlike earlier execs they literally can't imagine themselves as Joe Average, and figure out that while a Gay Western may well indeed be a good project, it's guaranteed to pencil the stars as out of the running for male action hero (and all the money that broadly appealing type of star brings in).

Look at Music. U2 STILL sells well, and appeals to new young fans and older ones as well. They've had an extraordinary career and their music now is as good as it ever was. But the Music biz has only Lindsay Lohan, Ashlee Simpson, and Jessie McCarthy (Pop Tarts and Boy Bands) as new "talent" (aka the Pro Tools extravaganza).

Movies, music, and TV all used to have broad appeal. Too many clueless and culturally unaware execs have pushed bad content and turned off their customers, most of whom are likely playing video games, surfing the web, or watching the existing DVD movies in their libraries. Which means that all that is required to turn things around is better content again (perhaps with lower prices).

Toyota is a past master of offering cheaper cars at better quality; Media ought to copy that general principles approach.


Circling back a little late on your book stats question. But in case it's helpful:

1) The American Booksellers Association is a fine organization, doing their best to represent people who sell less 9 percent of all trade books. They conduct no statistical work (they are, frankly, afraid to.) What you have quoted here is a report in their newsletter--no institutional or statistical authority there--that in turn covers a poorly regarded conference convened by the folks at Nielsen. Getting industry statistics right isn't their job; it isn't even on their agenda.

The other stats you asked about will never reconcile with anything in the real world. They are compiled by the AAP--the trade group that represents the largest publishers--and simply represent shipments (many of which will be returned) reported by certain AAP member publishers month-to-month. No one in the industry believes them to be a meaningful indicator of...well, anything.

The closest thing to comprehensive industry estimates are provided by the Book Industry Study Group (BISG.org) in their annual Trends report, issued in May. There is no easily snippable bit that I could find online at their site (they like to sell the data). But that's the source for the segment breakdowns for 2004 I was citing. (NB: "Publishing" as defined by the surveyors and trade groups is extremely broad; consumer/trade; higher education; k-12; professional; religious and other types of publishing are all very different markets, with different growth patterns and performance metrics).

Robin Good

Chris, thanks for this very useful data. It is the only way to help some execs start thinking indeed.

One very humble request:

Make it clear when this is "world" and when this is "US-only". I like to think that the Long Tail is a worldwide phenomenon as some of its critical components are at play anywhere where Internet is broadly accessible.

N.B.: I can't find the original source for this data:
Can you help?

chris anderson


Unless I'm forgetting something, all the data is US-only. And the source of the TV ratings data is Nielsen, which we obtained from the company. There's no single link, although I imagine you could assemble the same data with enough googling around for individual data points.

Moeen Arshad

I think that because of the loss of trust in the mainstream media, more and more people have begun to turn away from media giants. Newspapers are read with skeptisism, if they are even read at all.
Based on research personally done, my opinion stands strong that people are turning toward blogs as another source of "trustful" information. Having to witness all that has led up to the news media's fall, it's only natural the public would soon take news distribution into their own hands.

celebs gosip

I disagree on the reasons for the Mainstream media meltdown.

Look at Music. U2 STILL sells well, and appeals to new young fans and older ones as well. They've had an extraordinary career and their music now is as good as it ever was. But the Music biz has only Lindsay Lohan, Ashlee Simpson, and Jessie McCarthy (Pop Tarts and Boy Bands) as new "talent" (aka the Pro Tools extravaganza).

foto bugil

Thanks for the catch

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!