InvENting 101: 10 Great Books to Help You Be a Better Inventor

InvENting 101: 10 Great Books to Help You Be a Better Inventor

Sometimes, you just want to read a book…

Let’s face it, there are a ton of resources out there to help you in your inventing journey: online sites, blog posts, television advertising.

In this InvENting 101, we’re going back to basics and highlighting 10 great books (listed alphabetically by title) to help you become a better inventor, whether you’re just getting started or you’re looking to explore that next great idea!

Have Fun Inventing: Learn to Think Up Products and Imagine Future Inventions

by Steven M. Johnson


In 1974, Steven M. Johnson worked as an urban planner in the San Francisco Bay Area while maintaining a sideline career as a cartoonist. That year, as he turned 36 he discovered by accident a latent interest and desire to create inventions. He had been assigned by the editor of Sierra magazine to imagine and satirize future recreation vehicles. Asked for 16 illustrations, he came up with 109! Since then, he has been creating whimsical products, inventions and predictions for magazines and online, as well as in two books published that were in the 1980s and early ’90s. Have Fun Inventing describes the lessons he has learned in the past 40 years as a self-styled Whimsicalist and Possibilitist. He offers a clear description of his manner of thinking as he searches for invention ideas, and details the steps taken to come up with unique combinations and permutations of objects in almost any subject area. The book includes hundreds of his captioned illustrations, many published for the first time. For persons of any age who are curious about how an inventor thinks, this is the perfect book.

The Independent Inventor’s Handbook: The Best Advice from Idea to Payoff

by Louis Foreman and Jill Gilbert Welytok


How do you actually turn a million-dollar idea into a million dollars? From scribble-on-the-napkin to product-on-the market, The Independent Inventor’s Handbook explains everything a potential inventor needs to know and the tools he or she needs to use to take a raw concept and turn it into reality.

Written by Louis J. Foreman, creator of the PBS series Everyday Edisons and a holder of multiple patents, together with patent attorney Jill Gilbert Welytok, here’s a book that speaks directly to the inventive American?the entrepreneur, the tinkerer, the dreamer, the basement scientist, the stay-at-home mom who figures out how to do it better. (over one million of them file patents each year.) Here is everything a future inventor needs: Understanding the difference between a good idea and a marketable idea. Why investing too much money at the outset can sink you. The downside of design patents, and how best to file an application for a utility patent. Surveys, online test runs, and other strategies for market research on a tight budget. Plus the effective pitch (hint: never say your target audience is “everyone”), questions to ask a prospective manufacturer, 14 licensing landmines to avoid, “looks-like” versus “works-like” prototypes, Ten Things Not to Tell a Venture Capitalist, and how to protect your invention once it’s on the market. Appendices include a glossary of legal, manufacturing, and marketing terms, a sample non-disclosure agreement, and a patent application, deconstructed.

Inventing a Better Mousetrap: 200 Years of American History in the Amazing World of Patent Models (Make)

by Alan Rothschild and Ann Rothschild


Learn about the role that patent models played in American history–and even learn to build your own replica!

Patent models, working models required for US patent filings from 1790 to 1880, offer insight into–and inspiration from–a period of intense technological advancement, the Industrial Revolution. The Rothschild Patent Model Collection consists of thousands of patent models, many from the 19th century. This book features the most outstanding of these patent models, and offers deep insight into the cultural, economic, and political history of the United States.

This book not only catalogs hundreds of the most compelling models from the collection, but shows you how to build your own replicas of several selected models using Lego, 3D printing, and other materials and techniques.

Inventing on a Shoestring Budget: Insider Tips for Bringing Your Product to Market Without Breaking the Bank!

by Barbara Russell Pitts & Mary Russell Sarao


Written by inventors for inventors, this guide outlines the steps involved with moving a product from the idea phase to market on an extremely limited budget. Filled with advice on how to save money during every phase of the inventive process and how to avoid falling into the traps set to ensnare unwary inventors, this handbook defines the steps involved in developing, protecting, and marketing ideas while maximizing the chances of getting products to market. Tips include how to find out if your idea has already been done; how to obtain free (or nearly free) help; how to pace expenditures; when to spend money and when to hold back; how to know who may or may not be trusted; and where to find sources of funding to enable the pursuit of the invention.

The Inventor’s Bible, Fourth Edition: How to Market and License Your Brilliant Ideas

by Ronald Louis Docie Sr.


The path to success is clearer than it’s ever been! Thanks to experienced inventor Ronald Docie, the process of commercializing your invention and receiving royalties is no longer complicated. The Inventor’s Bible is an in-depth how-to manual for both beginners and skilled entrepreneurs alike that helps you develop a realistic, workable plan, research your market, target potential business partners, and strike a good deal for your inventions. It tackles vital concerns, such as: What is my invention worth? What steps should I take first? Is free government help available? Who can I trust, and how can I keep from getting ripped off?

One Simple Idea, Revised and Expanded Edition: Turn Your Dreams into a Licensing Goldmine While Letting Others Do the Work

by Stephen Key


With must-have updates, a new edition of the bestselling method that shows how anyone can turn their one simple idea into millions ? without lifting a finger!

Stephen Key is an award-winning inventor who has licensed more than 20 product ideas. In 2011, he shared the secrets to his success in the bestselling book One Simple Idea. Since that time, many changes have occurred in the entrepreneurial world.

One Simple Idea, Revised and Expanded Edition has been revised and updated to reflect current trends and practices in the industry. In addition to teaching readers how to turn their ideas into marketable products that companies will want to license, Key expands upon his cutting-edge product development, sales, and negotiation strategies, making note of the new opportunities and technologies available to creative people today. The book also features real-life success stories from people who have used the author?s strategies.

Secrets from an Inventor’s Notebook: Advice on Inventing Success

by Maurice Kanbar and Phil Baechler


When the fuzz from his sweater was pulled off by a brick wall he was leaning against, Maurice Kanbar had a brainstorm. Soon he had patented, produced, and successfully promoted the D-Fuzz-It sweater comb, and made his first fortune at the age of 22. In this engaging ?master class? Kanbar?s real world hits and misses illustrate the concrete steps every inventor must follow to successfully take his product to market.

Secrets of Successful Inventing: From Concept to Commerce

by Edith G. Tolchin


Ms. Tolchin has created an all-in-one guide that addresses the critical issues that beginning inventors might fail to even consider. From terminology to patenting, from licensing to marketing, each expert offers clear and practical advice to help inventors reach their goals. Every chapter presents the information in a sequence that will allow the beginning inventor to navigate the waters of product development. By following the steps offered and heeding the advice of these seasoned professionals, the reader will stand a better chance of avoiding pitfalls and finding success at journey?s end. Normally, novice inventors spend thousands of dollars attending lectures and workshops that they hope will prepare them for the challenges that lie ahead. In Secrets of Successful Inventing, Edith Tolchin provides a straightforward guide to the basics as well as a useful resource to take your idea to the next step.

Sell Your Ideas With or Without A Patent

by Stephen M. Key and Janice Kimball Key


This book will teach you how to:

  • Get a licensing contract with or without intellectual property
  • Write a provisional patent application that stops others from stealing your idea
  • Find and hire a killer patent attorney (they are not all created equal!)
  • Save thousands of dollars on legal expenses
  • File patents that have true value
  • Negotiate a win-win agreement

It also details Stephen’s experience defending his patents in Federal Court–a David versus Goliath saga he has never before written about at length–as well as provides tips about how to avoid a licensing contract from going bad.

Why Has America Stopped Inventing

by Darin Gibby


Why Has America Stopped Inventing? compares some of America?s most successful 19th century inventors with those of today, showing Jefferson refusing to waste any more weekends examining patent applications, Whitney being robbed of his fortune while the South?s wealth exploded, the patent models that kept British soldiers from burning Washington?s last-standing federal building, the formation of Lincoln?s cabinet, and Selden crippling the entire U.S. Auto Industry. ?It also tells the largely unforgotten stories of the Wright brothers’ airplane monopoly, the Colt revolver?s role in the Mexican American War, the Sewing Machine wars, the last six months of Daniel Webster?s life, and the controversy surrounding the first telephone patents.

And a bonus!

Here are some other recommendations from the EN Community:

This list is by no means exhaustive, but we thought it would get you started! And, of course, when you’re ready to share your idea, we’re here!

Happy Reading!

3 Comments InvENting 101: 10 Great Books to Help You Be a Better Inventor

  1. Michelle

    Hi Sylvester!

    You’re certainly welcome to share your ideas safely and securely on when you’re ready!

    Best of luck!

Comments are closed.