Kevin Kelly knows a thing or two about aggregating, curating and creating content. The founding editor of Wired and a former editor for The Whole Earth Catalog, Kelly’s background runs the gamut from granola-head to tech geek.
His latest iteration is as owner of the website Cool Tools, “a web site which recommends the best/cheapest tools available,” according to the site. “This includes hand tools, machines, books, software, gadgets, websites, maps, and even ideas. All reviews are positive raves written by real users. We don’t bother with negative reviews because our intent is to only offer the best.”
(The site itself doesn’t sell any products, but they are an Amazon affiliate for products available there, so there is a little slice of revenue coming in.)
Last year, Kelly took the digital site into the print world and self-published a 472-page print catalog with a price tag of $39.99.
Would readers who could get all this information online absolutely free shell out this kind of money to buy it?
You bet. The book is in its third printing, up to 42,000 copies so far.
David Carr interviewed Kelly for his piece “Print Starts to Settle Into Its Niches” in The New York Times and shared Kelly’s thoughts about the unexpected success of this 4.5 pound monster.
“It surprised me as well,” Kelly told Carr by phone. “I wish I had known. Paper is really unnecessary for a lot of things, but very good at certain things. And this turned out to be one of them.”
“Having many different things you may be interested in on a page, as opposed to a single thing surrounded by ads as it is on the web, leads to the formation of different connections and leads to a different experience.”
And it works. As Carr says in his article, “With a frantic, jam-packed design and improbable juxtapositions, it’s a big, sprawling wonder of a book — half coffee-table tome and half Sears catalog of old. Having it in my hands made me happy.”
We hear that so often, that holding a well- printed piece has an emotional appeal. We love to see this type of user-generated content aggregated and curated into a highly useful and appealing piece. And we can’t wait to get our hands on a copy!