WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic

You've Seen It a Million Times; A is reading something, but doesn't want anyone else to know what it is. It could be rather inappropriate for clique rank, like a jock reading a girly magazine. It could be inappropriate to read anywhere outside a bedroom, like a magazine with naked women in it. Heck, maybe it's just a comic book, and for the sake of impressing people, it's prudent to pretend to read (insert well-known intelligent-sounding book here) instead.. or maybe they're supposed to be paying attention in school and just don't want to.

In any of these cases, the solution is obvious. The desired book is put on the inside cover of the undesired book. (Bonus points if the cover of the outside book is upside down). That way, everyone will think that the character is reading something worthwhile instead of good-for-nothing smut.

At least, they would think this except they aren't idiots. Inevitably the switch is discovered and the character executing it is embarrassed. And we all learn a valuable lesson - this character wants people to think he's smart, but he's really either a geek or an idiot. Usually the former for sympathetic ones, the latter for non-sympathetic ones.

Often the hidden book comes from the Porn Stash.

Examples of Book and Switch include:


  • A self-deprecating in-house ad for Heeb: The New Jew Review shows an Orthodox Jewish man hiding a copy of the magazine behind an issue of Barely Legal.

Anime and Manga

  • The normal intent of this trope is inverted in Death Note, where Light uses a porn magazine to divert attention from an Artifact of Doom.
    • Light also puts the Death Note inside a magazine when he is testing it on a biker who is harassing a woman.
  • In Urusei Yatsura Ataru is shown hiding a girly mag inside one of his books.
  • In Kare Kano Yukino is seen hiding a comedy book under a serious cover. Arima scolds her for putting up a front.

Comic Books

  • In the miniseries "Midsummer's Nightmare" that led up to Grant Morrison's JLA run, Wally West, having lost his memory of being the Flash, was teaching high school and catches one of his students doing this.
  • Inverted on a Mad Magazine cover. Alfred E. Neuman appears to be reading Mad, but behind it you can see he's really enjoying Shakespeare.


  • In Back To The Future Part II Biff hides a girly magazine within the cover of the sports almanac. Marty is, naturally, exasperated by this fact after he goes to a great deal of effort to retrieve it. Extra idiot points for Biff by hiding a girly magazine with the cover of a sports almanac that won't even exist for sixty years.
  • Percy Wetmore, of The Green Mile, reading a Tijuana Bible (a pornographic comic from the 30's and 40's, featuring icons of the day) behind a copy of the regulations for the mental hospital he wanted to transfer to. This scene is in the book, where he's explicitly reading a Popeye Tijuana Bible.


  • The smart sister in Heart of Valor by L.J. Smith is reading another book inside her algebra book during math class, her teacher knows but can't call her on it because she's getting all the questions right. She reflects that he'd probably be less annoyed if he knew the book she was hiding was a trigonometry textbook.

Live Action TV

  • The Odd Couple- during a rehearsal for "Scrooge", one of the characters (Speed) is hiding porn underneath his script and is sort of not paying attention to the rehearsal. He is suddenly asked to read for the part of Scrooge. But he thinks they want him to read the porn. He balks, saying he would be embarrassed. He's coaxed into reading and begins reciting a passage from the porn, to which a very surprised Felix says, "Charles Dickens never wrote that".
  • One sketch of Not the Nine O'Clock News had the inverse of the usual: a man bought a Daily Mail and "Hot Chicks XXX", then hid that he was reading the Mail by hiding it in the porn.
  • In the opening titles of Blackadder The Third Edmund uses a textbook to hide raunchy paperback novels, each of which just happens to have that week's episode title.
  • Inverted in Chuck. Since he knows his bedroom's under video surveillance, Chuck studies the Intersect plans he got from Orion behind a Y: The Last Man collection.
  • An episode of My Wife and Kids had Junior locking himself in the bathroom with magazines for hours at a time. Although his parents seem to think he is actually pleasuring himself with cookbooks and Field & Stream, it's implied he is hiding porn magazines in them.
  • In an episode of Clarissa Explains It All, Fergusson pretends to his parents that he's reading a book, but he's actually playing on a Game Boy.
  • The Daily Show plays with this a lot, although it tends to come off more as a spoof of the fact that TV shows frequently just slap a new dust jacket on whatever books happen to be lying around whenever they need a book for a prop than of a real attempt to conceal the nature of the book in question. "Huh. You know, you so rarely see the hardcover edition of the Bible these days. It's almost like someone has taken a random book and given it a dust jacket that says, 'The Bible.'"
  • The earliest opening credits for Home and Away had Stephen pulling a fake cover from a book Frank was reading.
  • Reversed in SLiDE where Alpha Bitch Scarlett is desperately studying by hiding the text she's reading inside a fashion magazine.

Newspaper Comics

  • The title character of Curtis often tries to hide his Supercaptaincoolman comics this way while in class. His teacher is never fooled.
  • One strip of Frazz has child genius Caulfield hiding Shakespeare inside his primary reader book. Which is not a good thing to do on read-aloud day.
  • Calvin and Hobbes does this on quite a few Sunday editions; Calvin always hides a comic book inside his textbook.

Western Animation

  • This happens in The Simpsons episode where Martin and Bart are tutoring each other - Bart hides a comic in his schoolbook - Martin hides a schoolbook in his comic book.
    • Another episode has Moe Szyzlak hiding his poetry magazine behind a copy of Playboy. In church.
  • On Family Guy, when Brian has to study for his exam, part of his training montage has Stewie catching him trying to read a steamy magazine while hiding it behind something else.
  • An episode of Danny Phantom has Tucker hiding his PDA behind "A Farewell to Arms."
  • On American Dad, when Stan Smith finds out that his son is a geek, he has a massive breakdown. But at one point, he finds a copy of Playhouse under Steve's bed, and he breathes a huge sigh of relief. Then he opens it up, and there's a textbook inside. The breakdown resumes.
  • South Park has Stan Marsh, who's on a Food Network Frenzy, hide a cookbook under a Playboy magazine

Web Original

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.