Review: Cool Tools – A Catalog of Possibilities

Amazon Page

Amazon Page

5.0 out of 5 stars An Education, Bank, and Theater All In One — This is NOT a “Coffee Table” Book, March 14, 2014

I received this book as a gift from the author — we go back many years, and I was glad to review one of his earlier books,Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, & the Economic World, later also reviewing New Rules for the New Economy.

Talking with Kevin after I received and went through the book, I learned that it is being described as a “coffee table” book in some circles. Let’s kill that idea right away. This is NOT a coffee table book! Coffee table books in my own mind are slick superficial collections of photos with big print, meant to keep people occupied for a few minutes while they wait for their appointment.

This book is an education. Yes, it is a successor to the Whole Earth Catalog and a logical follow-on to that catalog and the Whole Earth Review’s tools section, but on top of that is the existing modern website kk.org/coooltools/. It is not just about “tools.” More or less the Whole Earth is covered in this book, with treehouses being one of my favorities (also underground houses). It covers books, methods, gardens, communications, design, places, and the family.

This book is a bank. As a wild guess, assuming a $50K a year salary with $15K in discretionary income, I consider this book worth — quite easily — $5K in savings a year for each of three years, with additional savings in the out-years from using the web site.

This book is a theater of reality with exquisite design. I can easily see this book as righteous entertainment with something for everyone — I did not look up dolls but I see this book as being a value to every age group across all cultures.

The small print is NOT a problem. In fact, for the price, this book is being given away. How the publisher made possible a book of this complexity, with the color and layout on every page being world-class, is beyond me. I can think of no better value in today’s day and age, as gift for a college graduate, a newly married couple, or an older person just entering retirement, than this incredible compilation of cultural artifacts.

Coffee table book? Only for the dull. For everyone else, this book is a treasure.

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