Blue Book Birthplace

Gilroy, Calif., is the garlic center of the globe. Waterbury, Conn., boasts that it is the Brass Capital of the
By V.c. Hallett

Gilroy, Calif., is the garlic center of the globe. Waterbury, Conn., boasts that it is the Brass Capital of the World. But, in truth, Harvard students don t care much about anything besides themselves. No problem. Meet Folcraft, Pa., the sleepy Philadelphia suburb that proudly proclaims itself >=Home of the Blue Book,<= a distinction that immortalizes the town for college students throughout the nation.

Pontiac Papers Vice President Thomas J. McClelland fondly remembers the roots of his illustrious involvement with the Blue Book industry in Folcroft. >=We [representatives from the paper company] bowled in this league and this guy asked us if we made blue books. He brought one in and showed us.<= Though McClelland had never seen anything like it before, he recognized the product would be lucrative for the paper company. So in 1976, Pontiac became the nation s third blue book manufacturer, producing the thin volumes for nearby Bryn Mawr College. Since then, business has boomed and Pontiac now has contracts with hundreds of schools that order between 10 and 12 million books every year.

Since Pontiac s arrival onto the blue book scene, one of its competitors has gone under, but another still remains afloat in Indianapolis. Yet McClelland is unfazed by the fact that the blue book didn t originate in the >=Home of the Blue Book.<= He stands behind the name. >=We make aem. That s why we re the home.<=

The moniker is also faulty because, as many students know, not all of the books are actually blue. At the University of Maryland, students would show up with blue books already filled with crib notes; to prevent cheating, the administration started the trend of multicolored books. Harvard orders its 200,000 books in five colors: blue, white, canary, green and pink. Beyond the rainbow of colors, Pontiac will custom orders to any of the schools requests; for example, the University of Illinois penchant for a style of paper called >=no downlines,<= on which pink margin lines are left out.

McClelland hopes this flexibility will keep blue books popular but he fears the advent of computers could make their product obsolete. And then, of course, Folcroft will be home to nothing.