When i first heard about “The Tipping Point” i have to admit that i was wary. I love pop-(social)science when it covers material that i’m not familiar with, but not when it’s work in my area, work that i know intimately. I didn’t connected Gladwell’s name with two of my favorite articles until much later. Still, i felt that i needed to read “The Tipping Point” in order to have conversations about my research with folks outside of the academy. So, i did. And i was really pleasantly surprised. Gladwell captured the essence of qualitative social networks, weaving together research and narrative to construct a truly compelling book. He unpacked research complexities with relative success and made social networks publicly accessible (although i’m not sure that i’m thrilled with this result, but still). It wasn’t a perfect book, but it was damn good and it let me engage with technologists, media and non-researchers in an entirely different way.
A few weeks ago, i started hearing about Gladwell’s upcoming book – “Blink.” I surfed to his site to find out that the book wont’ be released until January. Fine, i’ll wait. Two hours later, i received a lovely email from his press folks asking if i wanted to review “Blink” on my blog. ::bounce:: Of course! I wanted to reach out and hug my blog for giving me this opportunity. Yesterday, i received a review copy and i’m trying really hard not to read it until finals are over.
Now, for anyone who has heard me obsess over my books, review copies have particular significance. First, i *despise* hardcover books with a passion. I often don’t read really interesting books when they come out because i hate reading hardcovers. I genuinely hate hate hate hate hardcovers. I will happily pay hardcover price for a paperback of a really interesting book, but i just hate reading things that are so structurally rigid. Review copies, on the other hand, are like a treasure find. I often scour half.com looking for review copies that people (illegally) sell. Review copies are not only paperbacks from before the hardcover, *but* they have mistakes in them! Can i tell you how much i love errors in books??? It makes me feel like the book is real, like i’m seeing the process, that authors are imperfect. I admit – i’ve already scanned “Blink” – and i’m stoked to see things like “TK” which seems to indicate things that are to come later. It’s like me writing CITATION in my papers as markers for later insertion. Review copies make me think that one day, i’ll write a book and people will edit it. Review copies feel like they are part of the process, not some artificially and remotely constructed artifact of knowledge. Review copies are the antithesis of hardcover books… they make me drool.
Anyhow, i will review “Blink” properly shortly but in the meantime, i just wanted to share my utter joy in having a review copy in hand and my deep appreciation that blogging has let this happen without requiring me to scour half.com. And isn’t it damn cool that Gladwell’s press folks are reaching out to bloggers for reviews, not just mainstream media? Of course, i can’t help but wonder if i should take this opportunity to do a proper review that could be used elsewhere. Hmmm…