Released today, the book comes in at 244 pages containing “1,500 entries spanning all 27 letters of the alphabet.” And if you need help managing the interface, the Onion’s got you covered with the Book Bjorn.
Choosing entries for the book, and brainstorming “takes” for these entries, was a two-year process that, like the paper, was very much a war of attrition. We had a master list of entries we knew we had to have: God, Music, Literature, War, Abraham Lincoln, etc. The biggies. Everyone on staff, as well as some freelance contributors, poured in dozens, sometimes hundreds, of ideas for takes, and may the best idea win. Once we had a take idea nailed down for an entry topic, that entry would be assigned to a writer.
In addition to the big, must-have topics, we also wanted the book to be full of things that were completely left-field, or completely invented. A lot of people on the book staff, including the book’s lead editor, Joe Randazzo, are very skilled at this type of absurdism, and the book is chock-full of entirely imaginary animal species, public figures, locations and historical events.
And then we were also all delighted by the idea of writing entries on incredibly banal things, like an entry for “Table.” Or an entry for “Potato.” Suddenly, we were put in a position where, OK, the Onion has 200 words to tell the world what a table is. That challenge was pretty delightful.