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Book Review: Playboy Cover to Cover – The ’50s

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Playboy Cover to Cover: The '50s is an impressive box set. The large, sturdy red box opens to reveal an assortment of goodies any collector will love.

The highlight of this set — the main reason for purchasing — is the digital archive of every issue of Playboy from the 1950s. Every single issue. Every single page – even the advertisements. Not only that, but the entire text is searchable, by either issue or entire collection. I typed in “blasphemy” and only got one hit: August 1958 issue, page 23, a blurb on Leonard Bernstein: “He has already promised to inject liberal doses of American music into his programs, at the expense of the Old Masters (sheer blasphemy to the concert Tories). Granted, it doesn’t highlight the searched term, but it is still pretty remarkable.

The archive uses it’s own reader, similar to Adobe Acrobat. The Bondi reader is slightly less sophisticated, but does all the same stuff: zooms, scrolls, prints, etc. The software runs on both PC and Mac, and the DVD is needed to browse the archives. You can browse through the cover gallery, flip through pages like a real magazine, jump to specific pages either by page number or from the table of contents, or search for terms and select an article from the list. The program also allows you to create a reading list, which is perfect for research. If you are looking for everything written by, say, Ray Bradbury, you can create a “play list” to reference later.

The fun doesn’t stop there. The set includes an exact reproduction of the very first issue of Playboy, with Marilyn Monroe on the cover. There is also a large, 224-page softbound coffee table book called '50s: Under The Covers which contains photos, drawings, history, news clippings, and private correspondence, divided up by year and edited by Hugh Hefner himself.

This set is a can’t-miss purchase. I truly cannot wait until other decades are released.

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