The book

The author

  • David Shenk is the national bestselling author of five previous books, including The Forgetting ("remarkable" - Los Angeles Times), Data Smog ("indispensable" - New York Times), and The Immortal Game ("superb" - Wall Street Journal). He is a correspondent for, and has contributed to National Geographic, Slate, The New York Times, Gourmet, Harper's, The New Yorker, NPR, and PBS.

    More info here.

    Contact David.

    Follow on twitter.

    Speaking inquiries here.


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November 18, 2008


Kevin Maloney


I just read Outliers and wasn't really impressed. It started with great promise, but failed to impress. It just felt as though he ran out of material and threw in some stuff that was essentially unrelated - it almost felt as though he had spent the research time on a couple of topics and then really stretched to make the material fit his thesis.

Based upon your posts to this point, I'm expecting and hoping that your pending book will be better researched, more thorough and more relevant to the topic than Outliers (would it be too much to ask for entertaining as well). I miss the posts, though I hope that this means that writing is happening.

Keep up the good work and best of luck.

Jonathan Harnum

Hi David-
Caught your interview on Writers on Writing and enjoyed it very much. This issue of expertise and deliberate practice seems to be rising from the collective unconscious. You may know of another book on this topic, also doing quite well (now #40 on, entitled "Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else" by Geoff Colvin. Am a ways through it and although it's okay, it seems to be focused toward a business audience. Although it might seem disconcerting, I think the presence of several books on a similar topic give us a richer picture of the issue. And from a sales perspective, it's like the Starbucks Effect. A coffee shop goes up right across the street from another similar (or identical) coffee shop, and the sales figures for both go up. I'm looking forward to reading your perspective on this issue. Hope the deadlines are made and the book is on its way to us soon. If the reception of these other two titles is any indication of the public interest in this issue, I'm sure the book will do well. I'll certainly buy a copy.


Scott Berkun

As a writer myself observing topic overlaps all the time, it always seems to work out better for an author if other folks are successful in that domain. You have more experience as an author than I do, but that's what i've seen. Unless they take your title, or use some of your better stories and angles, it's a win.

And besides, given the kind of research you seem to be studying on this blog, you may have a lot more rigor than Gladwell's often anecdote pillared arguments.


You are the first one I thought of when I heard about Outliers! Haven't read it yet because I'll be getting a free copy at his talk next week. Exciting!

There shouldn't be much conflict between the two books. From what I heard on interviews, the general idea of Mr. Gladwell's Outliers is about how success has a lot to do with other people and life circumstances - factors beyond personal control. (The year you are born? Nothing I can do about that now!) While your book seems to be more on factors within our control. So I'm really looking forward!

Carles G.

I've read already Malcolm Gladwell's new book. I found a single copy of the UK edition (published by Penguin) in a bookshop in my city (Barcelona, Spain). 15 days before its publication in the US!

I have to tell you that YES, it touches similar issues than you here in your blog (i.e. a full chapter is dedicated to why the soccer teams have more player born in the first months of the year) and YES is a Great book. I love the book.

But please, I want your book. I need to read your book. I agree with the previous commenter. At the end, it will be very good for you. Momentum is everything.

Dave McDougall

Upon reading an excerpt from Malcolm's book, I was at first concerned for you, until I realized that soon enough Amazon et al will be recommending your book to everyone who buys his. Which will be a great boon the moment Outliers hits paperback, if not sooner.

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