"Flip books" – what's that all about?

It was such an odd thing that I couldn't help noticing it first thing this morning, right at the top of Google's books news stories:  a piece from PRNewswire proclaiming that "flip books" were back.

I had to read halfway through before I was sure that I really knew what a flip book was. Turns it, it's just what I imagined: one of those books that's basically a stack of drawings in sequential stages of movement. Flip the pages and you've got a movie.

Anyway, this press release went on to proclaim that flip books (invented, by the way, in 1882 by Henry Van Hovenbergh of Elizabeth, New Jersey, and then popularized in the early 1900s as Cracker Jack prizes) are back.

How silly, I thought.

Then an hour later I pick up the spring catalog from Ballantine Books and what is the first thing I see? "Flip! For Decorating," a March, 2009 release in which a series of flip book photos shows how rooms can move from empty to charmingly decorated.

Now intrigued, I Google flip books.

Turns out there are international flip book festivals. There are serious collectors of antique flip books. Flip books even merit their own Wikripedia definition.

And then there's the field of contemporary flip books. There are iPhoto flip books, animated flip books, embedded flip books, You Tube demonstrations of flip books, Solar Flare flip books, and flip books created on pads of Post-It notes.

And much, much more.

So anyway, if you didn't know either, all I can say is, please remember: You heard it here first.

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