Web 2.0

Cherizza Almario

Leveraging the Long Tail

This week we hit the 7th pattern – Leveraging the Long Tail

As discussed in this week’s lecture, Leveraging the Long Tail is a phrase used to describe the concept of small sites making up the bulk of the Internet’s content.

My example for this pattern is AbeBooks – an online book marketplace.

Here’s a description of Abebooks as displayed on their website:

“Launched in 1996, AbeBooks is an online marketplace where you can buy new, used, rare and out-of-print books, as well as cheap textbooks. We connect you with thousands of professional booksellers around the world and millions of books are listed for sale. Shopping on AbeBooks is easy, safe and 100% secure – search for your book, purchase a copy via our secure checkout process and the bookseller ships it straight to you.” AbeBooks, 2012.

Basically, AbeBooks is very much similar to eBay and Amazon – the only difference being that their absolute focus is on books.

The most obvious benefit of using AbeBooks is the low cost of actual products. As a long time user, being given the option of sourcing used books online is a huge perk. Even if you are buying brand new books however, there is still a huge discount involved. This is simply because there is no storefront and fees that apply with it. Books are directly sourced from the supplier and immediately sent over to you, as the consumer.

Here’s a few best practices applied by AbeBooks…

AbeBooks sources books from all over the world (best Practice #1 – Build on the driving forces of the Long Tail). With countless international suppliers, that means more products are available to consumers.

When you shop around AbeBooks and view listings of books that you find interesting, a list is also automatically generated which displays recommendations that may be of interest to you (best practice #2 – Use algorithmic data management to match supply and demand). As it such a large marketplace, this often comes as a useful feature as you discover new titles/authors.

There are also numerous lists which can be found on the site, featuring ‘Most Popular’ books of all time, for the year or even the month (best practice 3 – Use an architecture of participation to match supply and demand).

AbeBooks. 2012. Welcome to AbeBooks. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.abebooks.com/books/Welcome/. [Accessed 05 May 2012].


8 comments on “Leveraging the Long Tail

  1. laurencemccabe
    May 6, 2012

    Hi Cherizza, I Enjoyed reading your post. I think it is great that there is someone out there focusing on paper books, because there are still lots of paper books out there worth reading that might not get the attention they deserve due to people increasingly reading more online based material. A paper book can also be a refreshing way to read something without hurting your eyes on a computer. Do you see AbeBooks list of sites growing in the future? It is good to see that the smaller sites are getting the attention they need to get their books out there. Great work keep it up!

    • cherizza.almario
      May 6, 2012

      Thanks for your comment. I do notice that a lot of sellers / warehouses are based in the UK.
      Second, in the USA. Although it is quite rare to find an Australian seller (at a low price, anyway). I don’t think there will necessarily be a major boost in AbeBooks sources, but I think it will definitely stay steady.

  2. jaroodi
    May 6, 2012

    Great Post. AbeBooks is really utilising the long tail by allowing the customers to source used books online which wold make the tail fat which will lead to more customers and hence more products. great post

    • cherizza.almario
      May 6, 2012

      Yes definitely – i strongly suggest using AbeBooks for textbooks too. I have been using it for 3 years now to purchase uni textbooks and it has definitely saved me heaps!

      • jaroodi
        May 6, 2012

        yeah thats great! I will check it out then 🙂 thanks again

  3. njl1991
    May 8, 2012

    Hey im back to comment again this week. Your example looks good, i like how you broke it down into 3 separate sections on how AbeBooks utilizes the best practices we covered in the lecture. Given that AbeBooks would have an insane amount of products that can be purchased and many which would only be purchased by a very limited audience i think this is a fine example. I might investigate this for some of my uni text books, although i’ve only ever purchased 1 text book in 2 and a half years. Thanks for the interesting read once again!

    • cherizza.almario
      May 8, 2012

      Thanks for your comment! I definitely recommend it for textbooks…i’ve been buying uni textbooks using abebooks for years now 🙂 AbeBooks apparerently seeks a good comic range too

  4. andrejtf
    May 21, 2012

    I’m a user of Abebooks and far from satisfied with the services especially with their third party independent vendors. there are problems in communication between Abebooks and these vendors. Aside from that they are fine, however with the continued march of Amazon, they have to still tweak their long tail model and leap into a more niche environment

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