Since the October/November 2008 issue of Lingerie, Playboy Special Edition switched its bookbinding process from perfect binding (flat format) to saddle-stitching (stapled format), thereby definitely abandoning the moniker flats. Following negative feedback from readers, perfect binding was restored as from the March/April 2009 issues of Hot Housewives and Sexy Girls Next Door.
In the 1970s, perhaps in conjunction with the appearance of Oui, the special editions would feature somewhat more explicit photography or situations than Playboy itself would run at the time. One release, 1976's Noelle, was quite notorious in its day for its racy content.
By the end of the 1990s, the label Newsstand Special had been phased out in favor of Special Edition, and a host of regular publications had joined Book of Lingerie (renamed simply Lingerie) on the shelves. One edition each of Playmate Review, Nude Playmates and Girlfriends, among others, are published annually. College Girls is published three times a year.
The greatly increased demand for new photos to fill the 24 editions published annually -- reprints from the early 1970s having little erotic value to readers twenty years later -- required Playboy to look further than their own archives to fill the page count. Newsstand Specials of the late 1980s and early 1990s would often feature previously unpublished outtakes from Playmate pictorials, but also a number of "one-shot" models, possibly posing under a pseudonym or unnamed entirely, bought in bulk from glamour photographers. Sometimes these would resurface in other magazines; outtakes from a 1992-93 shoot with a model named Simone Burkhard which first appeared in Playboy's Girls of Summer '93 were published in Perfect 10 some five years later.
By the mid-1990s, Playboy had formalized its model process to help give the Newsstand Specials their own unique identity. Commissioning regular shoots with Playmates from the last two or three years provided an ongoing source of new photos which increased the models' popularity and won them new fans, but the editions also found new talent popular enough to warrant multiple appearances. Models such as Alley Baggett, Patricia Ford and Sung Hi Lee rarely or never appeared in the monthly Playboy, but were featured in the Special Editions dozens of times.
In 1984, Playboy published the first volume of its flagship Special Edition, Book of Lingerie, which featured 110 pages of photos of Playmates from the last decade (reprints and outtakes, with no specially-commissioned photos). The magazine sold extremely well, and a second edition, in 1987, proved the market was there for the Newsstand Specials, as they were formally called at this time, to begin a regular, formal sales cycle. Each Newsstand Special would have a two-month shelf life, with two titles published each month.
By 2005, the Playmates had actually found themselves completely squeezed out of Lingerie. Its 100th edition was the first to feature no Playmates at all; Playboy has such a bank of available, popular models that it no longer needs the Playmates to sell some of its Special Editions.
Playboy magazine began supplementing its monthly edition in the mid-1960s with irregularly-published special editions devoted to, for example, its cartoons or the Playboy Clubs. The first edition, The Best from Playboy in 1964, was nothing like the present-day specials. Its 120 pages contained a sixteen-page Jayne Mansfield pictorial, but was otherwise filled with articles, including the celebrated 1962 interview with Miles Davis. A 1972 Little Annie Fanny special is highly sought after by Harvey Kurtzman collectors.