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Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 472 pages
  • Publisher: Cool Tools Lab (December 17, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1940689007
  • ISBN-13: 978-1940689005
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 11 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,807 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"What a knockout! Book of the year!"
— Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons

"When this fabulous, amazing, unputdownable book arrived at my studio I immediately spent two and a half hours in it, and then the next morning passed another three-hour stint of 'Wow — look at this! I could do that!' This book is more exciting — in both what it actually offers and what kind of life it suggests — than anything I've read for a very long time. It's an outstanding achievement in every sense — content, design, and quality.
— Brian Eno, musician, artist

"Flipping through Cool Tools is a completely different experience from reading the same material online. Long live dead trees!"
— David Pescovitz, Boing Boing

"If this doesn't solve some large part of your Christmas shopping challenges, you need a different set of people to whom you give Christmas presents. The book itself (a real print 463-page glossy-stock oversizer) is great either for young people starting a home, or geezers who are in touch with their youth who might want to be shocked and reminded why so much of their take-control-of-your-own-life life is the way it is, or somebody who just could use a striking coffee-table conversation-starter/stopper. And then there are the hundreds and hundreds of amazing things — "tools" defined extremely widely and deeply as stuff that really works reviewed by people who've actually used them — to give you more gift ideas."
— Joel Garreau, The Washington Post, author of Edge City and Radical Evolution

"I don't know an adjective large enough to do it justice."
— Michael Litchfield, Fine Homebuilding

"I love it. A worthy successor to the Whole Earth Catalog."
— Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography

"This is a roundup of over 1500 tool reviews with incredibly useful tips and how-tos covering just about everything you can imagine. On one page there will be a recommendation for a great truck (Toyota pickup) on another they'll be tips on learning how to swim properly (it's all about the stroke length). This is, without a doubt, my favorite book to come out in 2013."
— Sal Cangeloso, Geek.com

"The Cool Tools book was sitting on the counter of the bar when an old boatbuilding friend stopped by and immediately became immersed in it. His exact words: "I GET this! There's no buttons to press!"
— George Dyson, author of Turing's Cathedral

"Best coffee table books = size of coffee table. Kudos for the beautiful Cool Tools collection."
— Scott McCloud, cartoonist

"Right now, do not pass Go, do not collect $200 . . . just grab a copy of Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities. It's 460+ full-color pages of ear-to-ear grinning, hours of ooh-ing and aah-ing, and years of repetitive page-turning. After it arrived at my door, I lost almost two full hours in its pages before realizing just how much time had elapsed . . . and this was me just skimming the various sections and randomly jumping from item to item. Since then, I've lost a few more hours as I've started to methodically tackle specific sections that are relevant to a few special projects that interest me (right now)."
— James Floyd Kelly, GeekDad

"Most catalogs are short stories. This one is a catalog novel."
— Mark Pauline, Survival Research roboticist

"Covering topics from hand tools to adhesives, organizational oddments, bicycles that double as chainsaws, beer brewing, mushroom growing, milling and fabricating, and so much more, it's enough to make your brain hurt with all the ideas for projects."
— Michael Una, Inventables

"Bravo for this mega catalog. Back to the future!"
— Steven Leveen, CEO founder of Levenger's

"I find myself not only flabbergasted at the size and extent of this achievement but happily awash in the feeling I used to get from the Whole Earth Catalogs; that all may not be right with the world, but that it could be."
— Jim Woodring, illustrator and cartoonist

"The glorious Cool Tools is like my dream update of the Whole Earth Catalog."
— Steve Silberman, NeuroTribes

"Multiple head asplosions on every page. Amazing!"
— Mark Laidlaw, science fiction author

"Love you, Wirecutter, but we're breaking up while I work through this tome."
— Luke Pebler, actor

"Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities reminds me of the engineering catalogues I read at my grandfather's house."
— Steve Remington, Chronicinfoholic.com

About the Author

Kevin Kelly is Senior Maverick at Wired magazine. He co-founded Wired in 1993, and served as its Executive Editor from its inception until 1999. He is editor and publisher of the Cool Tools website, which gets half a million unique visitors per month. From 1984-1990 Kelly was publisher and editor of the Whole Earth Review, a journal of unorthodox technical news. He co-founded the ongoing Hackers' Conference, and was involved with the launch of the WELL, a pioneering online service started in 1985. His last book, What Technology Wants (Viking/Penguin October 18, 2010), asserted that technology as a whole is not just a jumble of wires and metal but a living, evolving organism that has its own unconscious needs and tendencies. He also authored the best-selling New Rules for the New Economy and the classic book on decentralized emergent systems, Out of Control.

Kevin Kelly's website is kk.org.

More About the Author

Kevin Kelly is Senior Maverick at Wired magazine. He co-founded Wired in 1993, and served as its Executive Editor from its inception until 1999. He has just completed a book for Viking/Penguin publishers called "What Technology Wants," due out in the Fall 2010. He is also editor and publisher of the Cool Tools website, which gets half a million unique visitors per month. From 1984-1990 Kelly was publisher and editor of the Whole Earth Review, a journal of unorthodox technical news. He co-founded the ongoing Hackers' Conference, and was involved with the launch of the WELL, a pioneering online service started in 1985. He authored the best-selling New Rules for the New Economy and the classic book on decentralized emergent systems, Out of Control.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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I have long been a fan of the Cool Tools blog, and I also have fond memories of the Whole Earth Catalog.
Chris O
Short pithy commentary, good photography and a large format book make for a great coffee table read I've already gone back to again and again.
Andrew Anker
This book is like a great big catalog of amazing things - I've spent hours (and lots of money) looking through it.
Rachel Patterson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Home At Last on December 18, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
COOL TOOLS is a sprawling compilation of useful tool reviews that author Kevin Kelly and a thousand contributors wrote over a 10-year period on Kelly's blog of the same name. Every tool in this massive (472 pages, 11" x 14") collection was recommended by an avid tool user who actually used the tool. Every tool in COOL TOOLS is either the best, the cheapest, or the only thing that works.

As a former editor of Fine Homebuilding magazine, I thought I knew a bit about tools. Not anymore. Kelly and his crew have put together the most exhaustive, inventive and mind-bending selection of stuff I've ever seen. For starters, their definition of tools encompasses more or less every human activity on earth. So in addition to hand jacks that can raise 7000 lbs., the Teeny Turner (a pocket sized driver), portable band saws, and laser measuring tools, you can find the best source on how to buy a car cheaply, make a low-budget movies, brew your own beer, rear an optimistic child, design a logo, win a fight, soak in feral (!) hot springs, learn to swim efficiently, prepare for a natural disaster, vagabond the world, do something dangerous (and live to tell about it), run for local office and win, go solar on your roof, or (a great boon to Boomers) remember anything.

This list doesn't scratch the surface of what's in COOL TOOLS and that's one of the things that makes it so irresistible--you return to it again and again. Open it at random and you experience something like being six again, with a child's sense of delight and wonder at how clever people can be and what abundance this world holds. Like the Whole Earth Catalogue from 40 years ago, COOL TOOLS might just delight and empower a new generation of people who love learning--and doing. A most remarkable book.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By dgrover on December 5, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you ever enjoyed reading the Whole Earth Catalog, read no further. Just buy this. You know why.
If you are a reader of the Cool Tools blog, again, I'd say to just buy this. Yes, you've already read (or could read) much of the content on the site, but the book format (and the fact this is a hand-picked subset of the reviews from the blog) adds context and flow. You'll like curling up and paging through the oversize pages. Reviews within a category that were separated by months or years are side by side here in the book. QR codes take you directly to product pages. It is a nicely realized, physical thing.
Never heard of Cool Tools blog or the WEC? Check out the Cool Tools blog to get an idea of the tone (tell us about a cool tool, one that you'd recommend to a good friend) and subjects. This is a compilation of "cool tools"--tools that represent things you either never knew existed, or an extraordinary value. (The book itself qualifies as among the coolest of tools.)
The categories are wide ranging, from cooking, crafts, learning, music, family, electronics and more. There's certain to be some area of immediate interest, but half the fun is the insight into the tools of the trade of some activity you may never have considered like beekeeping or world travel on a shoestring budget.
There are some images with jarringly-low resolution, a few typos here and there, but overall a very nicely done book.
(Disclosure--I received an early copy because a review I contributed years ago to the site was included in the book, but I'll be ordering more copies.)
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lloyd Kahn on December 10, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the most exciting book I've seen in years. It's the Whole Earth Catalog come back to life in technicolor and updated for the 21st century. For 10 years, Kevin Kelly, one of the founders of Wired Magazine, has run the Cool Tools website/blog (kk.org), with daily reviews of useful tools of every nature, and this is a compilation in book form of the best and the brightest. It's a real book that knocks the socks off any kind of electronic media; for graphic books, print on paper has still got a magic that can't be duplicated digitally.
It's been sitting on the kitchen table for a week now, and every single person that comes by sits down and gets immersed in it. If you're one of the millions of Whole Earth Catalog fans from years back, you're going to love this book. If you don't know what the WEC was or about its profound impact on American culture in the 60s and 70s, check it out on Wikipedia.
There must be thousands of tools here, from lightweight tents to noise cancelling earphones to the best LED flashlights to grain grinders. Computer enhancements, books, work clothes, shop tools and kitchen tools and garden tools, sports bras, ukuleles, skateboards and baby strollers -- don't get me started! And the reviews are -- ahem -- way better (more informed and in my opinion more trustworthy) than Amazon reviews.
Full disclosure: I was the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog back in the day, Kevin is a friend, I've written a bunch of reviews in the book, and a number of our books at Shelter Publications are reviewed here, so I'm hardly unbiased. But if none of this were true and if I had just picked this book up out of the blue, I would love it just as much.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. R. Compton on January 7, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I still have a dozen or so Whole Earth Catalogs (WEC) from the last century. I visit author Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools site almost every day to see and read about the latest cool tools, and I could just afford this book, so I ordered it before it was published, and it has been open on my coffee table in my living room, ever since it arrived.

I page through it often and spend a lot of time reading about specific topics of interest to me - and I always learn new things - and even give attention to areas I'll probably never use.

It's a wish book and a daydream book and a down-and-dirty reality book. Nothing since the WEC has been as continually fascinating and educational. It reminds me of a New Age Sears Catalog of everything available - especially tools, which have always fascinated me.

I like that the book is easier to navigate than the site, which is still great for browsing, and though many of the tools reviewed are too esoteric for my direct use, it is still vastly interesting.

The type is a tad small. I keep wanting to command + it up to decent reading size for my elderly eyes, but I keep a bright lamp nearby for reading.

It's over-sized and heavy, and it's not comfortable reading closer to my eyes like most books. So I hunker down over it - maybe I should buy a podium desk, since they're listed along with everything else in the book. Or I might have given in five stars.
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