In 2004 Chris Anderson, then editor of Wired magazine, wrote a book entitled The Long Tail - "why the future of business is selling less of more". It was an observation of a business bell curve that showed how a few very popular items are bought by a lot of people in a relatively short space of time and then their popularity and sales start to drop off. - think of Beanie Babies. Well Anderson suggests that these sales never drop off completely. That is, the bell curve never really reaches the bottom or the original starting point on the graph. Rather the tail of the curve stretches out into a long, long line, suggesting that a few people are still buying, Beanie Babies.
Not only are a few people still buying Beanie Babies, they are also buying a little of a lot of other things. The Internet is the perfect place to reach a huge number of people many of whom may be interested in the rare items found in very tiny niche markets. As print dies, for example, those businesses selling printed books must sell more titles to fewer people. Vintage sites will proliferate and those sites stocking parts to repair vintage items will also do well. Sites making custom items, that might have been mass produced at one time, but now, although there is still a demand, it doesn't warrant a whole factory - think buggy whips, as an example, will do well too.
What does this have to do with knitting? Well, the long tail in knitting is supplying stores and knitters with patterns and accessories that are slowly disappearing. Printed patterns come to mind. With the availability of pfd down loadable patterns, printed patterns may go the way of the buggy whip.
I intend to manage the long tail, that is, I intend to continue to supply stores and therefore knitters, with hard copy printed patterns for as long as they are needed - swish that long tail!!
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