Chasing The Tail: Harry Potter and The Long Tail

Saturday begins with my regular stop at the local bookstore. I happened to see the book If Harry Potter Ran General Electric. This isn’t a review of the book (which I would recommend); it’s an article about the utilization of Harry Potter to accelerate this book’s reach and sales.

I’m reading The Long Tail, which speaks to the intriguing concept that technological advances in computers, the internet, and distribution drive sales of products that are not in the top percentiles. It’s a great book. Having just read Freakonomics, I think this is the perfect compliment.

As I viewed the book’s title, I found it interesting that author Tom Morris, an established author with great reviews, used the success of Harry Potter to push his book up the tail. Visitors to Amazon who search for Harry Potter will find this book at #30 in their search results. Harry Potter may be the most successful series of books of all time. Children and parents stand in line and are hungry for the next book. As they peruse Amazon, I can’t help but wonder how many thousands of them purchased this book, unaware of its existence.

I’m also curious if this was a deliberate marketing strategy of Mr. Morris and his Publisher! His book is rated at #66,951 on Amazon, while his last book is #154,295. Did Tom Morris become a better writer over the last three years? Or did his book chase Harry Potter and get him further up The Long Tail?

The strategy of using a famous brand like Harry Potter to title a book about leadership and business practices is a savvy marketing move that serves multiple purposes:

  1. Brand Recognition: Harry Potter is a globally recognized brand that captures immediate attention. People who are fans of the series or are simply aware of its cultural significance are likelier to notice the book.
  2. Curiosity and Engagement: The title promises a unique perspective by combining the magical world of Harry Potter with the principles of leadership and management in a corporate setting like General Electric. This can pique the curiosity of potential readers interested in new and creative approaches to leadership.
  3. Cross-Demographic Appeal: The Harry Potter series transcends age and demographic barriers. By associating with it, the book can appeal to a wide range of readers, including those who may not typically read business books but are drawn to the novelty of the Harry Potter reference.
  4. Authority by Association: By linking concepts from the Harry Potter world with real-world business wisdom, the author can create a perception of depth and insight that may lend the book additional credibility.
  5. Differentiation: In a crowded marketplace, books that offer a distinct angle on a popular topic can stand out. Using Harry Potter in the context of leadership and corporate strategy differentiates the book from other leadership and management literature.
  6. Shared Values and Lessons: The values and lessons derived from the Harry Potter series, such as courage, integrity, and teamwork, also apply to business and leadership, making for a compelling thematic connection.

This strategy helps the book leverage existing popularity and fanbases to maximize its reach and appeal, potentially translating into better sales and more robust discussion and application of its content.


Mr. Morris responded and assured me this wasn’t his intent (although I believe it’s a great strategy). I also told him I enjoyed his book while having never read a Harry Potter book. His response:

The book is written in such a way as not to presupposed knowledge or fandom regarding Harry Potter. I’ve heard from bunches of CEOs who have never read a word of Potter and who write praising the book! Thanks for your gracious email! I hope you find the new book refreshingly novel and stimulating for your own further reflections! Some have told me that the chapter on lies was alone worth the price of the book.

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