The reading I selected to compare the “Long Tail” to was the article written by Elberse titled “Should you invest in the long-tail?”.

This article was focused on a differing viewpoint than the one taken by Andersen in regards to the online economy.  Elberse believes that it is still a hit driven economy, and that the niche economy is not as obscure and specialized as Andersen would like to believe.  Eberse believes it is more of consumers having a wider range of online purchases that results in these obscure niche purchases, not necessarily a consumer base that only buys obscure titles.

Elberse also believes we will not soon leave the “water-cooler era” that Andersen talks about in Long Tail.  He states that the consumers buying the obscure items are also buying the hits, therefore still validating the hit driven economy theory.  This is the main point of the article, but I am not sure I buy into 100%.  For example, in Long Tail, when discussing this point, Andersen used a wide range of examples and different markets that followed the hit driven economy plan that ruled the 90s, while Eberse seems to have just studied two examples – online music sites and online video rental sites.  The main point Andersen made in regards to the water cooler era theory dealt with the lack of television viewers, because we no longer are likely to watch the same things on television the previous night.

I think Elberse presents a good challenge to the Long Tail economy theory, its just incomplete and a little too opinionated.   Hits are indeed still important to the markets, but the online aspect of sales has allowed thousands of items to be purchased that would never have been found by their buyers.  Eberse also seems to discount the joy of making a purchase of an obscure item, and I would like to tell him that I was damn pleased to FINALLY find a copy of the Possessed’s 1985 masterpiece Seven Churches.