by James E White, 2000, 344 pages, $19.95 (Paperback), ISBN 0-9676494-0-4. Published by James E White & Associates, 517-381-1960.
The title page of this book bears a warning that the book may be banned in Texas! Incredible as it sounds, the Great State of Texas is apparently embarked on a program to ban books that may help you to understand the law and that are not written by a lawyer! (Perhaps an inventor or entrepreneur reading this review may have the opportunity to quiz presidential candidate, Texas governor Bush, as to his position on this un-American madness.)
The author also points out another political skullduggery that should drive all inventors up a wall. This is that Congress has been stealing -- that's correct, stealing -- patent office fee money (over $100 million so far) and using it for other than patent office purposes. This is money that should be used to reduce fees and improve services.
The author's main theme is that many inventors, and many of the marketing books written to help them, miss the boat because they fail to grasp that it is the product and the product's value to the customer that is the key to real profit rewards. He strongly emphasizes the fundamental point that a great many inventors ask the wrong question. They ask "How do I get people to buy my invention?". The correct question is "What can I invent that people will buy?".
The book has a unique and very simple system for doing your own product evaluation. It is unique in that it inverts the common method of scale or rating points. You strive for a low score. In other words, you evaluate for the probability of failure. This avoids becoming carried away by some system that may indicate a greater than 100% chance of success. For example, if you find your product is already available in the first store you check, you score 100% and your invention is dead. On the other hand, if you do not find it anywhere you rate a 0% for that step of your product evaluation. He uses an octagonal traffic stop sign to indicate "STOP IF' and a diamond shaped "THIN ICE" sign for warnings.
His evaluation method covers examining alternates, how to critically examine responses, getting reputable marketing evaluations, getting honest cost estimates, fully designing and refining, market testing, creating marketing materials, and keeping an eye on the competition.
The book is as up-to-date as it is possible to be and has a great many computer URLs for valuable information sources. (Start with his own site, www.willitsell.com.)
One interesting suggestion is to prepare an "elevator speech". That is a 60-second speech that would make your product understandable to a complete stranger in 60 seconds. Another suggestion is to identify yourself as an inventor. This avoids the kooky inventor image and keeps you from being too emotionally attached to your invention.
The book examines the pros, cons, pitfalls, and advantages of going the provisional patent application route. His section on doing your own patent search is very down to earth and hands-on. He notes how patent titles are "often totally meaningless and abstracts either so vague, arcane, or mechanically descriptive, it Is almost impossible to imagine what they mean". He also warns that when you use the Manual of Classification that subclass numbers may not be in numerical sequence.
Few groups of intelligent people are ripped off as often as inventors. He gives the pychographics (it use to be called "Lifestyle Analysis") that account for this. Warning, you may not be too happy reading a precise description of yourself.
In the appendix, you will find his description of "Where lawyer language comes from". It is both humorous and instructive. Incidently, the index is one of the best I have ever seen (see, computers can be used for something more than doorstops).
As the author himself admits, some may find some of his advice as too negative. But if you were facing expensive, life-saving surgery, would you choose a bad surgeon with good bedside manners or a great surgeon with poor bedside manners? Humor aside, this is a book no inventor or new product entrepreneur should be without. And at its low price there is no reason not to get a copy today.