So the commonly used images to visualize the Long Tail are shots from inside the enormous warehouses run by the online book retailer amazon.com all over the world.
Seems like that these warehouse are not the only ones associated with the long tail. In reality (which is not properly depicted by all those fancy graphical representations of the long tail) enormous warehouses are being constructed way beyond the (imagined) end of the long tail:
The Guardian has an excellent article (‘Inside the tomb of tomes‘) that focusses on the construction of a warehouse that will house the British Library’s collection of books that no one is reading. The warehouse, currently being constructed somewhere in the cultural wastelands of the midlands, will house most of the books that the BL aquires via the legal deposit function it has for copyrighted works being published in the UK. Under this system it has to take into it’s collection a copy of every book being published in the UK which means that they are amassing a fair amount of unwanted books:
We used to build cathedrals. Now we build warehouses. [… This] warehouse is extraordinary because, unlike all those monstrous Tesco and Amazon depositories that litter the fringes of the motorways of the Midlands, it is being meticulously constructed to house things that no one wants. When it is complete next year, this warehouse will be state-of-the-art, containing 262 linear kilometres of high-density, fully automated storage in a low-oxygen environment. It will house books, journals and magazines that many of us have forgotten about or have never heard of in the first place.[…]
It is where, before this century reaches its teens, copies of books spared a quick death at the pulping plant – thanks to the grace of the provisions of the 1911 Copyright Act and later government legislation – will go to serve their life sentences in a secure environment. […] The British Library, you see, strives to live up to its self-imposed title of “the world’s knowledge”. That knowledge, though, is an odd thing. Along with the Magna Carta and the Gutenberg Bible, it includes Everybody Poos, by Taro Gomi (to help kids over toilet phobias). Not to mention Wayne Rooney’s autobiography, Jordan’s novel and a book called Do Ants Have Arseholes And 101 Other Bloody Ridiculous Questions. The MPs who in 1911 established the legal deposit principle for the five greatest libraries in the British Isles probably didn’t realise the full consequences of their decision.
Read the complete guardian article here [via BLDGblog which has a couple of amazing warehouse/library pictures in its review]