At Look What I Found In My Brain!, Lucy Snyder remembers generic books.
Fewer people remember that, for a very brief period of time in the white-label heyday of the early 1980s, someone attempted to market generic genre books.
Yes, completely generic paperback books. They had a plain white cover with just the title in black block lettering: ROMANCE or SCIENCE FICTION or HORROR or WESTERN.
The funny thing is I do remember these. I never saw them in a store, but I remember a TV news show doing a feature on the books. I must have been 10 years old. Even then, I asked myself "how can a book be generic?" Of course, I know better now. There's many ways books can be generic. But to sell them as such is a bit much.
I remember this particular news show because I remember visiting my father in Long Island. His house was filled with "No Frills" items. I'd go in the bathroom and there would be a white tube with a blue line that said "Toothpaste" and somewhere along the side "No Frills." Items like that seemed to be from another universe. My house was filled with frilly items like Crest and Scope. So when I saw the TV story, I paid attention.
The only reference I can find to the books is a cached page from Kathmandu Books:
The ''No Frills'' series was a collection of generic books issued in a plain white cover with black writing. The series was put together by Terry Bisson, and this particular volume was written by John Silbersack. A near fine copy in wraps with a short closed tear and corner crease on the back cover.
I don't know anything about Silbersack. A Google search shows him to have been an editor and to also have written a few media tie-ins, including "Buck Rogers: Rogers Rangers." Terry Bisson, on the other hand, is a well known science fiction writer. His Web site mentions that he created the "No Frills" line in 1981, but gives no further information.
Does anybody know anything more about these books? I'd love to have an image of one.