Sunday, July 09, 2006

# Posted 10:25 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

I JUST BOUGHT NEBRASKA ON eBAY. On average, how many items are bought and sold on eBay every day? A friend of mine guessed 25,000. I told him he was off by three orders of magnitude:
On any given day, about thirty million individual items are bought and sold on eBay, many of them cheap and obscure. Barely a decade after Pierre Omidyar founded eBay, more than seven hundred thousand Americans report it as their primary or secondary source of income, according to a study by the market-research firm AC Nielsen.
The quotation above is from a review in the New Yorker of The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More, by Chris Anderson of the Economist.

I just "discovered" eBay a few months ago and have quickly found myself spending more and more time browsing its contents. I have purchased five items: two dress shirts and three pairs of shoes. But most of my clothing gets bought at plain old stores. I knew eBay was big, but I never figured that it was an industry all to itself.

Perhaps I should've known better. Around two years ago, I found out that my friend JB buys and sells UFO conspiracy literature on eBay. He also does a decent business in ALF memorabilia. As it turns out, JB perfectly illustrates the significance of the Long Tail: eCommerce has lowered the cost of overhead to the point where millions of things that could never otherwise be sold at a profit have now been brought into the economy.

What this means, according to Anderson, is that niche marketing and sales have become more important, or that "the future of business is selling less of more." Now, I have no qualifications that would enable to evaluate an idea like that, but it sure sounds interesting.
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Just FYI--Anderson, while formerly of The Economist, is currently the editor of Wired. Cheers.
I like to say that eBay has done a whole lot more for "recycling" than all of the separate-your-garbage programs lefties are so fond of.
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