This article:The Long Tail in the October issue of wired is really interesting. It offers the idea that the sucess of the most popular media titles is actually less than the cumulative totals of the other titles.
The article also offers a key point. Shelf rental value is a key factor when determining stock levels. The example is a CD-store that must sell two copies of a particular title each year to stock it at all. However amazon doesn’t really work like that. Internet retailers have a lower cost base and thus it doesn’t really matter how many copies get sold, as long as some stock exists somewhere. Similarly revolutionary changes are also occuring with dvd-rental services. Online rental outfits have thousands more titles than even the largest physical store.
What this may mean is a revolution in consumer habits. People up until now have been buying stuff because it is available (as I often seem to do) but now they can buy whatever they actually want. The smaller, better, but less populist titles may win out against the heavily promoted mainstream titles.
Suddenly, popularity no longer has a monopoly on profitability.