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This may not be the best place to ask this question. However, I've only ever seen anime ones. I got an email from JList advertising Sword Art Online and I got a couple with a Galaxy Angel Vol. 1 Limited Edition box.

To me, pencil boards just look like plastic cards which, when flipped around (so everything is opposite), could be stuck to windows and allow light to shine though, but I doubt that's what they are for. What exactly are these pencil boards?

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Pencil boards (Shitajiki), are used to place under a sheet of paper (or a pad) such that writing on the paper won't indent the sheets underneath. The wiki page for Shitajiki says:

Merchandised shitajiki are very common, featuring images of everything from tourist attractions to celebrities to anime and manga characters. Most shitajiki designs only go through one print run, making them very collectible and often difficult to acquire. Collecting shitajiki is a hobby for many anime and manga enthusiasts. As collectibles, shitajiki are also often used for decorating or other ornamental purposes.

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    I always thought another purpose was creating a hard and even writing surface (softer surfaces are usually difficult to write on). – atlantiza May 20 '13 at 22:42

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