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The tracking of top-seller lists is a national obsession. Our culture is a massive popularity contest. We are consumed by hits—making them, choosing them, talking about them, and following their rise and fall. Every weekend is a box-office horse race, and every Thursday night is a Darwinian struggle to find the fittest TV show and let it live to see another week. A few hit songs play in heavy rotation on the radio dials, while entertainment executives in all these industries sweat as they search for the next big thing.

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282 pages, published in 2008
This book has benefited from the help and collaboration of literally thousands of people, thanks to the relatively open process of having it start as a widely read article and continue in public as a blog of work in progress. The result is that there are many people to thank, both here and in the chapter notes at the end of the book. First, the person other than me who worked the hardest, my wife, Anne. No project like this could be done without a strong partner. Anne was all that and more. Her constant support and understanding made this possible, and the price was significant, from all the Sundays taking care of the kids while I worked at Starbucks to the lost evenings, absent vacations, nights out not taken, and other costs of an all-consuming project. But more than that, she was my sounding board, my first reader, my counsel, confidante, and an endless source of encourage- ment and advice. (Our young children—Daniel, Erin, Toby, and Isabel—also spent a year without seeing much of their father, and I thank them for rising to the occasion with sterling behavior and, one hopes, no permanent scars.)
CHRIS ANDERSON