I was surprised to learn that, while it seemed that big name media companies and products dominate the market, there is a long tail of more specialist and niche products that are endless and in fact hold the majority of the market.
The growing presence of a long tail, to me, is a positive outcome of how the Internet has affected media consumption. Any shift away from a dominant, hegemonic mainstream of media consumption promotes more diverse interests. Maintaining a more even spread of market share especially to authors, musicians and other independent media producers, not utilising a large marketing campaign ensures consumers are getting what they want.
It has to be conceded that this has some negative effects on smaller book stores that cannot cope with the physical demand and puts more power into large web-based companies that have almost unlimited storage space. It will ultimately be these big companies (Amazon and Book Depository Online) that will come out the best but at least they are assisting writers and artists by providing exposure and a convenient location for consumers to buy their products.
I see the key issue is just that. People should not have to buy the best selling novel just because it is all over store’s front window and advertised on T.V. People need, and are entitled to, choice and the Internet has helped everyone achieve this by reducing our need for a physical store to buy books (eg. – closing of Borders). If something is available, no matter how obscure or niche it is, now we can find it.