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04 July 2011

When "pb&j" Does Not Mean "Peanut Butter and Jelly"

In the publisher/librarian/bookseller parlance, "pb" means "paperback."  It is usually further divided into "mass market" or "pocket book" and "trade paper."

As discussed previously in this blog and elsewhere, paperbacks get no respect, or get very little, especially if it is the first published medium. Paperbacks have historical baggage that electronic books just don't have, which is too bad.

For the well-read or at least the well-informed on all-things-possible, parlor games or games played around the kitchen table with plenty of wine, beer or port still flowing are still a preferred way to keep the mind well lubricated with creative juices.  From commercial board games like Scrabble or Boggle using words to books full of probing questions to standardize "Truth or Dare" (which BoF has sold many to the boggle-ment of yours truly) to simply using a book to provide the basis for competitive q&a.

Dwight Garner in a New York Times article describes some literary games as well as his own recommended "paperback game," showcasing the desirability of not simply (mass market) paperbacks as a medium that gets shared or left behind in rental cabins, but also the value added by a publisher -- cover art and back-of-the-book publisher's marketing. How gratified both Johanna Lindsey (who continues to write and publish in the romance genre, in paperback and hardcover as well as in CDs and MP3) and the 1981 mass market publisher (unknown to me as the book is now out-of-print) must be.  The only point that sticks out, because it doesn't stick, is Garner's last comment.  He very kindly gives us Lindsey's first line in Paradise Wild and then, writes, "It’s the kind of stuff you can’t make up. Or can you?."  This is obviously a a poor wrap-up for a well-researched and well-prepared but mediocrely written article.  Of course, "you" can't make it up, but obviously Johanna Lindsey did and so, too, perhaps the other 3-9 persons playing the paperback game with you, Mr Garner.  I thank you, however, for presenting a joyful use of old paperbacks left at rental cabins (besides reading them).

For your reference, there are other books which can inspire great games for the non-literary.  I had always recommended Les Beletsky's Bird Songs: 250 North American Birds in Song, done in conjunction with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and brought to us by Chronicle Books. It is a delightful way to play "Name That Bird," because the "picker" can choose a wonderfully illustrated bird, dial up the corresponding audio and watch those well-lubricated game participants go at it. Unfortunately, what this book has in common with Johanna Lindsey's Paradise Wild is that it is also no longer available.  (Oh, c'mon, Chronicle Books!! Bring it back!  Bring it back!  [stomp] [stomp]) 

So, in the meanwhile, I can offer you Donald Kroodsma's The Backyard Birdsong Guide, two tomes divided neatly into Eastern and Western United States, with the same kind of audio apparatus, also with Cornell and from Chronicle Books (which must have the patent on that "dial-a-birdsong" thingy).  I assure you that adults, children, dogs and cats will all go wild for the mourning dove, the chickadee and the whippoorwill.  This is one book, however, you will not be wanting leave behind at the rental cabin to share with the next tenant.  Tell them to bring their own. 

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