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The Tipping Point

How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
Narrated by: Malcolm Gladwell
Length: 3 hrs and 4 mins
4 out of 5 stars (2,095 ratings)
Regular price: $17.09
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Publisher's Summary

Why did crime in New York drop so suddenly in the mid-90s? How does an unknown novelist end up a best-selling author? Why is teenage smoking out of control, when everyone knows smoking kills? What makes TV shows like Sesame Street so good at teaching kids how to read? Why did Paul Revere succeed with his famous warning?

In this brilliant and groundbreaking book, New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell looks at why major changes in our society so often happen suddenly and unexpectedly. Ideas, behavior, messages, and products, he argues, often spread like outbreaks of infectious disease. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a few fare-beaters and graffiti artists fuel a subway crime wave, or a satisfied customer fill the empty tables of a new restaurant. These are social epidemics, and the moment when they take off, when they reach their critical mass, is the Tipping Point.

In The Tipping Point, Gladwell introduces us to the particular personality types who are natural pollinators of new ideas and trends, the people who create the phenomenon of word of mouth. He analyzes fashion trends, smoking, children's television, direct mail, and the early days of the American Revolution for clues about making ideas infectious, and visits a religious commune, a successful high-tech company, and one of the world's greatest salesmen to show how to start and sustain social epidemics.

The Tipping Point is an intellectual adventure story written with an infectious enthusiasm for the power and joy of new ideas. Most of all, it is a road map to change, with a profoundly hopeful message, that one imaginative person applying a well-placed lever can move the world.

Don't miss any of Malcolm Gladwell's books, articles, and interviews.
©2000 Malcolm Gladwell (P)2005 Time Warner AudioBooks

Critic Reviews

"A fascinating book that makes you see the world in a different way." (Fortune)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Z
  • 08-10-05

An interesting listen

I really enjoyed this audio book. I've heard Malcolm Gladwell speak before and had been interested to "read" The Tipping Point for a while. It's a mixture of anectdotes, psychology, economics, marketing, epidemiology and more.

The principle focus of The Tipping Point is how small changes, can bring about large effects. With examples such as marketing of Hush Puppies shoes, the broken windows theory, Airwalk shoes, Paul Reveres midnight ride, word of mouth, mass hysteria and more.

The only disappointing thing about this audio book is that it is abridged. If you like short 3 hour "quick listen"'s, you may not mind, but it felt to me, like a reasonable amount of material was cut out. This was even more apparent at the end during the afterword, when it references several things that did not appear in this audio book.

But overall, it was enjoyable, fairly "light reading", and kept my interest throughout.

35 of 35 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Alfredo
  • Toronto, ON, Canada
  • 09-11-05

Great book, too drastic abridge job

This book is a true classic. I read the text version a while ago and thought i would hear a "refresher". I was hihgly dissapointed that many of the examples and topics covered in the paper version were not even mentioned here.
This book will get you acquianted with the general concepts, but if this stuff really interest you find the nonabridged version or read the paper back.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointing. Overly abridged.

I had high hopes for this book (a breeding ground for disappointment, I realize), but they seemed well-founded. I had heard nothing but good things about it. The subject matter is fascinating and I had already listened to "Blink" (Gladwell's current bestseller), also read by Gladwell, and enjoyed it immensely. What went wrong?

I have to imagine that it suffered from being overly-truncated to fit the 3 hour constraint. To add insult to injury, the actual book itself comprises only approx. 2:20. The remaining 40 minutes are an afterward added (maybe for the paperback release?) that did little to add to/explain the content itself.

I've subsequently borrowed the printed book from the library to fill-in what was missing and hae found it much more elucidating. As it stands, I would only recommend this if you were considering reading the full book and were not sure if you wanted to commit the time to it.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Got it based upon reviews - was not disappointed.

I too found the work well written and well read and fascinating, though I did wonder whether the part that was abridged-out was just as good. Sure wish they had taught this stuff when I went to college 30 years ago. If you're starting your career or if you are thinking about how to run your business, reach your customers or influence your students, you'd be wise to listen. Little things can and do make all the difference sometimes.

I've been an Audible subscriber since 2000 and my original subscription was packaged with a Rio 500 player. I was so impressed with both in the dark days of 2001 that I bought stock in both companies. Audible to its credit acheived the tipping point. But what of Rio? Five years ago my Rio did most of what an IPOD can do today. It still does. Yet Rio was bankrupted twice over while the IPOD made a fortune for Apple and its investors. The IPOD "tipped", while the Rio tanked. Rio didn't get it, but Apple and Audible did. After listening to "The Tipping Point", I understand.

This book and another Audible selection I would recommend - "Linked: The New Science of Networks" (Barabasi) both give an interesting and perhaps essential slant on how things work in our well connected world. Don't set sail on your career without them.

26 of 29 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Jessie
  • Raleigh, New Caledonia
  • 08-29-05

Interesting topic, but beautiful voice??

I found the topic and the examples to be mostly quite interesting but having just listened to Freakonomics, I found the latter's analyses more compelling and *definitely* preferred Stephen Dubner's voice. I'm interested to read Blink for content, but a little hesitant for speaking style. Maybe that's one for good ol' print.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

No Audio Purchase, Read it only!

The book is incredible. The audiobook is lousy. The authors voice is great but the abridgment is truly horrible. I wonder if the author deliberately made the abridgement so bad to "tip" people into going and buying his book to fill in the gaps. Hmmmmm....

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating insights in a short book

Normally I steer clear of abridgments, but this was an excellent way to spend five hours. I'm not sure how much longer an unabridged version would have been, but I felt the argument of this book proceeded very logically and was adequately developed and supported by the factual examples.

That argument is essentially this: that many social trends and phenomena follow the same basic pattern as epidemics; that they follow the same pattern because they are caused and sustained in much the same way; that the difference between trends that get past the "tipping point" and those that do not may often be one or more very small factors; and that if one wants to create any sort of social trend (whether that be buying a product or committing fewer crimes), it is important to attend to such very small factors.

The book is anecdotal, and for all I know there may be respected social scientists who think Gladwell is a rank amateur who is dabbling beyond his depth. But for my part, I think Gladwell is a perspicacious observer whose insights here are original, interesting, and even useful.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ryan
  • Edmonton, AB, Canada
  • 10-01-05

The Power of Numbers!

Wow... What a great read. Malcom Gladwell really captures the spirit of human connections and the human need to feel part of something. A definate must read for anyone interested in looking at what moves people and how a small event can result in large response.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

better as audio

This is a very current topic, with which business persons should be familiar.
I found the audible format, which I could absorb while commuting, far more useful than reading the printed text. The pace and vocal timbre were suitable to the material.
Mr. Gladwell has another book, Blink, which I hope will be available soon.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • John
  • Drexel Hill, PA, USA
  • 12-08-06

Interesting, but where's the info?

This was an interesting book, but too much time was devoted to detailed accounts of studies and anecdotes, which seemed endless. I also kept waiting for a summary of the author's view of what we should learn from these stories, but it seemed to never come. I always was disappointed. For example, after several anecdotes about "stickiness", the author concluded by saying, you can make your message have impact if it has stickiness. The key is for you to find it (i.e. what will make it stick). Well, my reaction is, no kidding! I was hoping for a little more insight rather than constant stories.

Maybe I expected too much and read it for the wrong reason. I was hoping to obtain another view providing insight and hints and opinions on how to make a message persuasive and have impact. I was very disappointed because that info was lacking in the book.

In addition,the book should have been read by some one with a little more inflection and intonation. The reader in this case, who I think was the author, put me to sleep and after about 2 hours got on my nerves. It seemed as though he was falling asleep as well. The 3 hour CD seemed much, much longer.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful