cover image Gadget Nation: A Journey Through the Eccentric World of Invention

Gadget Nation: A Journey Through the Eccentric World of Invention

Steve Greenberg. Sterling, $19.95 (244pp) ISBN 978-1-4027-3686-5

Greenberg, a writer and ""innovation insider"" who works the quirky device beat, looks into a number of those ""why didn't I think of that"" (and ""why did anyone think of that"") products in this colorful, fully illustrated guide. From the incredible (bird diapers) to the practical (mom's third arm, a flexible bottle-holding device that attaches to car seats) to the ingenious (the slanket, a blanket with sleeves) to the goofy (a kitchen utensil for turning a hot dog into an octopus), Greenberg profiles odd products and the oddballs behind them, dutifully chronicling the ups and downs of inventor-dom. Though the products are interesting, the real story is in the arduous trip from garage to store shelf, a long, expensive and risky enterprise. Greenberg finds inventors in all stages of the process, many of whom face the chilling prospect of losing hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's the exceptions that drive them: Craig Ramsell's Boomwhackers, a brightly colored children's musical instrument; Bob Sotile's Conedoms, ice cream cone holders that save fingers from drips; and Todd Greene's Headblade, an ergonomic scalp razor, have all earned their creators millions. Non-inventors will enjoy the bizarre product showcase, while inventors will benefit from the case studies, back stories and Greenberg's insightful tips on product development, trademarking and patents.