20% of the customers buy 80% of the books. Those customers demand the greatest variety. If 'long tail theory' holds out, what the publishers put out could only meet half their demand (at best). So the most 'intense readers' must transition to ebooks for the variety.
This is to do a proper reply to a topic that comes up again and again on JA Konrath's blog.
Those that support the big6 ask, why do we need more variety?
The 80/20 rule is the Pareto principle . 80% of the market is met by 20% of the participants. In effect, the publishers supplied the 20% that was enough to meet 80% of the market demand. But wait... they had an imperfect filter, so they were supplying something less than the 20% of the content that would meet 80% of the market demand.
But then we get into Long Tail Theory. As the cost of distribution/content creation drops. The top 20% of the supply only controls 50% of the purchases. That is the theory that is driving Indie ebooks. For 50% of the market is 'up for grabs.'
Wait! 20% of customers are 80% of the sales too. The most likely customer to demand the variety will be the top 20% of customers. Ugh oh... (for the 14 AAP publishers). 80% of the market could go to ebooks as there will be no choice for over half of their content purchases! To
Will the theory be proven? We've seen this before. Crown Books crushed Indie bookstores by offering more variety. Borders and B&N then crushed crown books by offering more variety. How do you beat ebooks for variety?