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What is the meaning and origin of ‘blurb’?

(Avinash Goyal, Ghaziabad)

When we pick up any book, the first thing we normally look at is the back cover. It usually contains the publisher’s/reviewers’ short, but raving description of the book. This description, which is always full of praise for both the author and the book, is called a ‘blurb’.

*According to the blurb, this is the best novel written by the author.

Although the idea of a blurb had been in existence for a long time, the word itself was coined only in the 20th century. I understand that it was the brainchild of Gelett Burgess, the well-known author of ‘The Purple Cow’. When his new book, ‘Are You Bromide?’ was launched, Burgess persuaded his publishers to do away with the usual sugary write-up. Instead, he made them paste the picture of a girl whom he named Miss. Belinda Blurb. The back cover said, ‘YES, this is a BLURB’; it contained quotes from Ms. Blurb. As a result, anything that was printed on the back cover began to be called a blurb. Nowadays, we have blurbs on DVD and VCD covers as well.

S. UPENDRAN

upendrankye@gmail.com

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