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The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference [Paperback]

Malcolm Gladwell
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,293 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 7, 2002
The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate. This widely acclaimed bestseller, in which Malcolm Gladwell explores and brilliantly illuminates the tipping point phenomenon, is already changing the way people throughout the world think about selling products and disseminating ideas.

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Editorial Reviews Review

"The best way to understand the dramatic transformation of unknown books into bestsellers, or the rise of teenage smoking, or the phenomena of word of mouth or any number of the other mysterious changes that mark everyday life," writes Malcolm Gladwell, "is to think of them as epidemics. Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do." Although anyone familiar with the theory of memetics will recognize this concept, Gladwell's The Tipping Point has quite a few interesting twists on the subject.

For example, Paul Revere was able to galvanize the forces of resistance so effectively in part because he was what Gladwell calls a "Connector": he knew just about everybody, particularly the revolutionary leaders in each of the towns that he rode through. But Revere "wasn't just the man with the biggest Rolodex in colonial Boston," he was also a "Maven" who gathered extensive information about the British. He knew what was going on and he knew exactly whom to tell. The phenomenon continues to this day--think of how often you've received information in an e-mail message that had been forwarded at least half a dozen times before reaching you.

Gladwell develops these and other concepts (such as the "stickiness" of ideas or the effect of population size on information dispersal) through simple, clear explanations and entertainingly illustrative anecdotes, such as comparing the pedagogical methods of Sesame Street and Blue's Clues, or explaining why it would be even easier to play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon with the actor Rod Steiger. Although some readers may find the transitional passages between chapters hold their hands a little too tightly, and Gladwell's closing invocation of the possibilities of social engineering sketchy, even chilling, The Tipping Point is one of the most effective books on science for a general audience in ages. It seems inevitable that "tipping point," like "future shock" or "chaos theory," will soon become one of those ideas that everybody knows--or at least knows by name. --Ron Hogan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The premise of this facile piece of pop sociology has built-in appeal: little changes can have big effects; when small numbers of people start behaving differently, that behavior can ripple outward until a critical mass or "tipping point" is reached, changing the world. Gladwell's thesis that ideas, products, messages and behaviors "spread just like viruses do" remains a metaphor as he follows the growth of "word-of-mouth epidemics" triggered with the help of three pivotal types. These are Connectors, sociable personalities who bring people together; Mavens, who like to pass along knowledge; and Salesmen, adept at persuading the unenlightened. (Paul Revere, for example, was a Maven and a Connector). Gladwell's applications of his "tipping point" concept to current phenomena--such as the drop in violent crime in New York, the rebirth of Hush Puppies suede shoes as a suburban mall favorite, teenage suicide patterns and the efficiency of small work units--may arouse controversy. For example, many parents may be alarmed at his advice on drugs: since teenagers' experimentation with drugs, including cocaine, seldom leads to hardcore use, he contends, "We have to stop fighting this kind of experimentation. We have to accept it and even embrace it." While it offers a smorgasbord of intriguing snippets summarizing research on topics such as conversational patterns, infants' crib talk, judging other people's character, cheating habits in schoolchildren, memory sharing among families or couples, and the dehumanizing effects of prisons, this volume betrays its roots as a series of articles for the New Yorker, where Gladwell is a staff writer: his trendy material feels bloated and insubstantial in book form. Agent, Tina Bennett of Janklow & Nesbit. Major ad/promo. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 301 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (January 7, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316346624
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316346627
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 1 x 5.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,293 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Malcom Gladwell's Finest Work?!? April 10, 2015
By DanPow
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Loved this book! Malcolm Gladwell is a genius! This book goes over how social trends are started, and how they spread. In a sense, just like a virus can infect people and spread; ideas can also “infect” people and spread through the masses. Basically, there are different types of people in the world. Some are “Connectors”, people who are part of many different groups and that know tons of people. They are highly influential because they can introduce various groups/people to other groups/people. Another type of person Gladwell identified was the “Maven”, that is, the type of person that others consult with when making purchasing decisions. Think of the people that leave all of the top rated Amazon reviews, they influence a lot of people (including myself)! Anyways, were all of this was beneficial for me is that as a marketer, you want to identify these people. I don’t have to market to 100 people, I just have to market to 5 Mavens/Connectors. Once they buy in, they do your marketing for you. Pretty cool stuff!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NOT A SCIENTIFIC JOURNAL August 24, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Other reviewers have done an excellent job of reviewing the book’s thrust and content, so I’m going to assume I don’t need to do that here. I do want to say I did not expect a scientific journal article. What I anticipated is what I got – a delightful application of fascinating social psychological evidence to ways of approaching and understanding real life problems.

With a degree in social psychology, I can’t help being excited and impressed by the research contributions of the field. The findings he cites often seem obvious and “of course” once the results are in. And sometimes the results contradict “common sense.” Always they require clever design by those who create the hypotheses and methods of measurement.

But this book does not claim to produce new research. What the author does is present interesting and validated findings in a way that organizes them for potential application to a given range of problems. Readers who want more scientific journal type evidence are free to take the suggestions and create their own statistically designed clever research.

As for me, his suggestions set me to thinking and observing life as it is lived. I will confess, I wish he had been able to identify a numerical
tipping point. It would help me a lot in my efforts to create an epidemic of readers for my latest book. But maybe some of what I’m doing will be helped by thinking along the lines he suggests.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book – a good, thought provoking read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Skim for best results January 22, 2017
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I thought this book was highly interesting at times and incredibly overdone and out-of-reach at others. By our of reach, I mean that the point got lost in the technical garble of the book. This was particularly true in the chapter about tobacco. However, there were some solid points in here that I think anyone in any profession would benefit from understanding and thinking about. For example, I used Gladwell's point about graffiti on the subway to fine tune my classroom management as a teacher. Overall, pieces of this book are valuable for certain people while others could be skipped by certain readers. It doesn't need to be a cover-to-cover read. Find the chapters that seem most suitable to your situation and skim the others.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars quick dip into social science research December 2, 2016
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Some may say “The Tipping Point” belabors the obvious, which is that things change, sometimes overnight. True, too true, but so what? Malcolm Gladwell, the master of popularized social research, makes us care about the mechanisms of seemingly abrupt shifts in the course of human events—such as why William Dawes’ midnight ride to warn that the British were coming didn’t start the American Revolution, but Paul Revere’s did. Turns out Revere’s personality helped his news galvanize patriots to pick up their rifles, while Dawes’ identical cry made people turn over and go back to sleep. Revere had two of the three traits Gladwell identifies as necessary to the spread of social trends: he was a Connector and a Maven. Revere had a vast rolodex of acquaintances in colonial Massachusetts and he knew everything there was to know about the nascent independence movement. He set the scene for resistance to the onmarching British, and a few local men of Gladwell’s third type, the Persuaders, finished the job of rallying the militias of Concord and Lexington.

Gladwell is adept at explaining the academic research that led to such popular ideas as “six degrees of separation” and relating such social science experimentation to his overall theme of how change happens. He goes deeply into the discoveries about learning that led to the success of “Sesame Street” and “Blue’s Clues”—these shows’ producers used the idea of “stickiness” to instill basic principles and values in pre-schoolers. The “broken windows” theory of policing gets a thorough explainer, including a side trip into how do-gooding seminarians can allow themselves to avoid being good Samaritans. Advertising is one of the great accelerators of trends, and Gladwell marshals a few Madison Ave. case studies to show how commercials tip us into parting with our hard-earned cash.

Absolutely painless learning is what Gladwell offers, with a side benefit of greater self-awareness.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jon Leone Trade Book Review April 25, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
People often wonder why some items that flourished in the market suddenly disappear from existence and wane into desirability just as quickly as they appeared and flourished. These items, called fads, are all too familiar. What makes the hype die down, and what will be the next fad? These fads provide society with the realization that disorder lurks underneath everyday life.
Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point presents the idea of fads as the main area of discussion with eight chapters, each of which displays specific qualities and examples that make fads so intriguing. In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell stresses that no matter how absurd a new idea may seem, people are, for the most part, unpredictable in situations in which everyone else is involved in a new idea. Fads, to Gladwell, are not really fads at all. On the contrary, he argues they are “one dramatic moment in an epidemic when everything can change all at once.” A common phrase to represent this phenomenon is “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

The Tipping Point is more or less a “biography of an idea” that is centralized around change. The three main characteristics of change are said to be
• Contagiousness
• Rippling effect - little changes can have big effects in the future
• Epidemic - that one moment when change occurs, because change is not gradual.

Yawning, a very general example by Gladwell, clearly displays his own three reagents of change: Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context. A simple yawn is a universally recognized thing, it is “sticky” enough to be spread among recipients, and every context or situation more or less allows for it.

Some examples specifically related to marketing, however, may not be so obvious.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!
Many principles that make a lot of sense. I love it!
Published 1 day ago by David
1.0 out of 5 stars My daughter is not satisfied.
Even though I bought this in new, it's very worn out...looks very old. Pen marks and chips. My daughter is not satisfied.
Published 3 days ago by Soyoung Kim
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked Outliers better
I liked Outliers better, but this is a good book. It's amazing that you can have a hard cover book delivered to your door in like-new condition for $6.
Published 8 days ago by bill emmer
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this you wont regret it.
Phenomenal book. Loved this masterpiece.
Published 10 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
The book came in great condition. Very happy with the purchase.
Published 12 days ago by Shuvo R.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
I heard about this book through "word of mouth" and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I definitely recommend this to everyone.
Published 12 days ago by keithmurphy1
4.0 out of 5 stars Good books
Tipping point opens your eyes for a different angle of seeing how certain things are more viral and contagious than the others. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Niki
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Book! Highly recommend anything by Malcolm Gladwell
Awesome Book! Highly recommend anything by Malcolm Gladwell.... he has a way of putting otherwise difficult to understand concepts into layman's terms
Published 13 days ago by Frank Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
Good book.. it was recommended to my by my professor - it shows how momentum can be built to change collective mindsets. Read more
Published 17 days ago by Sean
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting social science narrative before the advent of Social Media
This is the first book Malcom Gladwell wrote back in 2000. And, you can see why he will become a very successful bestseller writer ever since. Read more
Published 17 days ago by Abacus
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