The Long Tail: An Evaluation of the Causal Assumptions in Market Determination

Hales II, Troy
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The “Long Tail,” is a market distribution wherein obscure products sell in large aggregate amounts, allowing them to compete comparatively well with the few popular products in the same market that sell well individually. This type of market came to the forefront of business research in a 2006 trade book by Wired editor-in-chief, Chris Anderson, titled The Long Tail. Focusing on the example of the book publishing industry in the United States, the paper explores each of Anderson’s three assumptions he claims are the causes necessary to the emergence of the Long Tail in a market—the “democratization of production,” the “democratization of distribution,” and supply filters. Utilizing the Counterfactual framework established by Morgan and Winship, which draws from Judea Pearl’s Directed Acyclic Graphical model, this paper displays Anderson’s assumptions in conjunction with additional considerations absent in Anderson’s framework.

Economics, Business, Industrial Organization, Causal Inference, Book Publishing