No Frills Books

In 1981, Jove Publishing debuted a “No Frills” series of books. This consisted of four books, each of which was supposed to represent a generic version of a genre (science fiction, western, mystery, and romance). Each book featured a generic cover, styled after the generic packaging for foods.

And to complete their genericness, the names of the authors weren't revealed. But the Internet, of course, has subsequently tracked down who they were. As posted on Bill Crider's blog:

Terry Bisson, who was one of the instigators of this project, reports:

Mystery was written by Clark Dimond, a men's mag editor/writer who also wrote for comics.
The Romance was written by Judy Coyne (former Glamour mag editor) nee Wederholt
The SF was written by John Silbersack, SF editor and now an agent.
The Western was by Vic Milan (SF author)
We were working on a No-Frills Besteller (by me) and A No-Frills movie (by film critic David Ansen) when the series was dropped.
My partner selling the series was Lou Rosetto who went on to found WIRED magazine.

So what were the plots of these 'generic' novels? Here are some summaries I was able to find online:

Science Fiction (via Goodreads)
"A space cadet is called to the commander's office at the moon academy. His father is the lone known survivor of the Pluto colony, and asks for his son to join him in the search for what happened. They assemble a crew and blast off to Pluto, where they stumble upon few clues but several surprises."

Western (via Goodreads)
"It begins when Kid Smith arrives in town and almost immediately finds himself in a bar room brawl. He’s soon menaced by the town’s two factions. Those wearing black hats are led by a corrupt judge and those wearing white hats are led ….by a corrupt mayor. Both want their hands on the widow West’s land but Smith has taken a shine to her and vows to protect her and her property from the two no-good skunks and their henchmen."

Romance (via NY Times)
'''Romance' is complete with everything the cover claims - a kiss, a promise, a misunderstanding, another kiss, a happy ending -plus an alarming trial marriage condoned, nay, arranged by the Mother Superior of a Virginia hunt-country convent."

Mystery (via Bill Crider)
"The story itself is pure pulp, with corpses piling up at an amazing rate. The unnamed first-person private-eye narrator is given a mysterious cassette tape. Someone's killing to get it because although to the p. i. it sounds like a song, it has the power to cloud most men's minds. Most women's, too. Whoever has the tape can control the world."
     Posted By: Alex - Mon Jun 10, 2019
     Category: Literature | Books | 1980s

There is a scene in the film "Repo Man" where Otto is eating dinner from a can of "Food" that has the same label design as the books pictured here. I also remember a line of products in the local Albertsons that were marketed as so generic that there was no manufacturer identifier on the can, only the distributor which was Albertsons. The only items worth the cost were durable goods like paper and plastic. I did try a few of the food products, which gave rise to me quipping about them, "Low cost equals low taste."
Posted by KDP on 06/10/19 at 05:43 PM
KDP, you remind me of a bubble tea shop in Montreal named "A beverage store". I always wondered if their dream was to appear in a TV serie.
Posted by Yudith on 06/17/19 at 11:29 AM
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