How Blank Book Pages Won the American Revolution

1106 Design

January 29, 2016

spyAs some of you know I love, love, love to read history. This past weekend, while reading George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring that Saved the American Revolution, by Brian Kilmeade (@kilmeade) and Don Yaeger (@DonYaeger), I was amused to learn that often-reviled blank book pages played a crucial role in winning the war.

British and American spies were everywhere during the war, so creativity was needed to share intelligence that would not be detected. One method, employed by both sides, was to use “invisible” ink  to write between the lines of ordinary-looking letters and business documents. Codes such as “S.T.” were added to these letters to alert the recipient to apply a chemical stain to reveal the secret message.

George Washington knew that the couriers of these letters risked their lives with every delivery so he formulated a better plan:

“…he should occasionally write his information on the blank leaves…of a common pocket book, or on the blank leaves at each end of registers, almanacks, or any new publication or book of small value. …He may forward them without risk of search or the scrutiny of the enemy, as this is chiefly directed against paper made up in the form of letters.”

So, the next time you’re tempted to ask your book designer to remove those blank pages, think again. You just may be giving birth to a new nation. (I can’t wait to discover more hidden gems in the authors’ latest book, Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War that Changed American History.)

You may like these

Cutting Corners Can Kill Your Book and Your Brand

Cutting Corners Can Kill Your Book and Your Brand

By Wally Bock, The Writer's Edge A couple of weeks ago, I had a Zoom chat with a woman who wanted to write a book to help her business. Before we chatted, I checked out her website and her LinkedIn page. She seemed successful, mid-career, and ready to boost her brand...

read more
Book Design Checklist: What Your Designer Wants to Know

Book Design Checklist: What Your Designer Wants to Know

We’ve talked many times in this blog about the process to self-publish a book, how to research book designers and self-publishing services, and how to avoid scams. Now, here’s our Book Design Checklist of what book designers want to know about your project so that you...

read more
Tips for Pre-selling Books on Amazon

Tips for Pre-selling Books on Amazon

The deciding factor in my writing an article on tips for pre-selling books on Amazon was the following scenario: An author calls 1106 Design. He’s putting the finishing touches on his manuscript. He decided to work with us after researching options online. He loves...

Why Does It Take So Long to Publish a Book?

Why Does It Take So Long to Publish a Book?

In truth, this blog should read, “Why does it take so long to prepare a book to self-publish?” but that long-tail keyword isn’t trending in Google. Thus, while the title reads “Why Does It Take So Long to Publish a Book?”, we are going to focus on the production end....

Top Cover Design Mistakes

Top Cover Design Mistakes

Self-publishing is a personally rewarding and exciting endeavor for most indie authors, not to mention a good business strategy. The problem is when the final product ends up looking self-published. If a book looks self-published, reviewers, retailers and buyers will...