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May 22, 2006

News & Opinion: BEA - Chris Anderson and The Long Tail

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 4:39 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

We are going to tell you some stories this week about the just ended Book Expo America.

We got in on Thursday and the only one presentation we had time to check out was Chris Anderson speaking on his new book, The Long Tail. The talk itself was an overview and covered the same sorts of things you have seen other places.

Because it was a book-centric audience, Anderson spent some time comparing and contrasting his writing of the book to the writing he has done on his blog. He estimates he has written over 200,000 words on his blog compared with the 70,000 words you'll find in the book. For overlap between the two, he further estimates:

  • 10% of the words overlap
  • 50% of the ideas overlap
  • 70% of the charts overlap

I believe Anderson's blog is the best example so far of an author's blog supporting and enhancing an upcoming book. Here are the reason he said he started the blog:

  1. To Own the Meme - he wanted "The Long Tail" to be associated with him
  2. Feed the Meme - He believe that the blog allows the discussion to continue after the initial Wired article. He show this chart from Google Trends and how the blog's launch boosted search query. I agreed with this idea wholeheartedly, but I am not sure I buy the causation he was selling.
  3. Fill The Dead Space between Article and Book - I can think of a zillion books that have started as articles and become books and this idea of keeping the idea alive and evolving is huge.
  4. Tap Into Distributed Intelligence and Research - Anderson says his blog readers made the book better.
  5. Beta Test/Peer Review - Anderson comes from the sciences and he says it is unheard of that you would not challenge an idea before publication. Companies don't release software with beta testing. He felt vetting ideas on the blog was important part of the process.
  6. Generate Book Buzz - He knows he has a core audience and believes they will buy the book and lead others to do the same.

He ended by talking about how blogs and books are different forms and how each is better suited for certain tasks. Anderson says blogs are good for capturing ideas and having conversation. Books are betters for richly exploring ideas and lecturing.

I am again going to recommend finding this book when it comes out in July.

We have five galleys that we would like readers to review for us. Drop me a note at todd (at) 800ceoread (dot) com if you are interested.


About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.