An interesting case study from wired.com on the long tail.
“In 1988, British mountain climber Joe Simpson wrote a book ‘Touching the Void’ – a harrowing account of near death in the Peruvian Andes. It got good reviews but, only a modest success… it was soon forgotten. Then, a decade later, a strange thing happened…
Another American writer and mountaineer Jon Krakauer wrote ‘Into Thin Air’, another book about a mountain-climbing tragedy, which became a publishing sensation. Suddenly ‘Touching the Void’ started to sell again.
The publisher rushed out a new edition to keep up with demand. Booksellers began to promote it next to their ‘Into Thin Air’ displays, and sales rose further. A revised paperback edition, which came out in January, spent 14 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. That same month, IFC Films released a docudrama of the story to critical acclaim. Soon ‘Touching the Void’ outsold ‘Into Thin Air’ more than two to one.
What happened??? In short, Amazon.com recommendations!!!
Amazon.com noted patterns in buying behavior and suggested that readers who liked ‘Into Thin Air’ would also like ‘Touching the Void’. People took the suggestion, agreed wholeheartedly, wrote rhapsodic reviews. More sales, more recommendations, and more sales again.
Particularly notable is that when Krakauer’s book hit shelves, Simpson’s was nearly out of print. A few years ago, readers of Krakauer would never even have learned about Simpson’s book – and if they had, they wouldn’t have been able to find it.”
But suddenly, it all changed! And so have the rules of the game!