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Book Safe

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"Dear warden, you were right. Salvation lay within."

"Priests clutched onto Bibles
hollowed out to fit their rifles"
Coldplay, "Violet Hill"

Books are great. Even if you don't like reading, you can use a book for any of a number of handy purposes. One favorite trick is to hollow it out and hide something useful inside it.

Most often this is a gun. Often the book in question is the Good Book. It Gives A Whole New Meaning to "Guns and Bibles." Sometimes a character will go so far as to brandish the Bible while exclaiming "This will protect us!" or some similar line, only to open the Bible and reveal the weaponry within.

But the trick is flexible enough to be used for just about anything small enough to fit. Hand weapons, ammo, drugs, bottles of liquor, software, other books. Whatever.

If you're feeling clever, you can make sure that the object you are hiding goes into a hollow book of an appropriate genre or title: A secret locket in a romance novel, or a safe key hidden in a book on finance.


A book that is hollowed out and then glued into place on the shelf may be used to hide a secret switch (or the book itself may even BE the switch.) If you're lazy — or don't want to deface a book — you can just pull the book out a small way and stuff something behind it instead.

This trope can be Truth in Television; check That Other Wiki under "Concealing objects in a book" for examples.


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  • In the UK, a commercial for the board game Cluedo (aka Clue in North America) showed Miss Scarlet retrieving the revolver from a hollow book in the library.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In My-Otome Zwei, the "Book of Neptune," from which Nagi alleged to have learned about Yuna and the CHILDs, was really a box with the Neptune Emerald GEM inside.
  • A Case Closed case revolves around drugs hidden not in a book, but a "fake book" that has four sealed edges.
  • Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade. The protagonist keeps a Walther PPK hidden in a book.
  • In Pokémon Adventures, it's revealed that Roxanne hides Pokeballs in the book she always carries.
  • In Trigun, a variation on the standard gun-in-the-Bible occurs when that big heavy cross Wolfwood has been lugging around with him everywhere turns out to not only to BE a BFG in its own right but to also CONTAIN a plethora of hand pistols as well. "It's heavy because it's so full of mercy", right...
  • Cardcaptor Sakura started when Sakura opened a Book Safe: the hiding place of the the Clow Cards. This also released Kerberos, but he had fallen asleep and neglected his duties.
  • In a flashback sequence in Yu-Gi-Oh!, Mokuba uses this to smuggle Duel Monsters cards to Seto after their stepfather stopped letting him have toys.
  • The spy team in Princess Principal occasionally receives their mission files from a book in the library hollowed out to fit envelopes with wax seals. Another book, used by a different spy party, is hollowed to fit a camera, with the lens hidden in the ornate spine.
  • In one of Nichijou's filler shorts "Helvetica Standard", there's a girl in a white dress enjoying the scenery. Then she goes into the library and opens a book, cutting to the reveal that the book has a gun inside, implying she's a Silk Hiding Steel.

    Comic Books 
  • In V for Vendetta, corrupt priest Father Liliman pulls out a gun from his Bible when V enters the room.
  • Tintin. In "Explorers on the Moon" Captain Haddock smuggles his whiskey on board the rocketship inside a Doorstopper tome, labelled "Guide To Astronomy".
  • Used in one Lucky Luke story - a fake priest keeps a revolver in his hollowed-out Bible. Lucky suspects him and asks him to read some words from the Good Book...
  • Red Hood smuggles a collapsible bow to Arsenal inside a bible in the first issue of Red Hood and the Outlaws.
  • In Jonah Hex #14 (original series), Jonah confronts a former gunslinger turned preacher who is killing bounty hunters. The preacher keeps a derringer hidden in his Bible.
  • In Judge Colt #1, an outlaw attempts to escape from Colt's courtroom by grabbing a revolver hidden inside the hollowed out bible he was swearing on.

    Fan Works 
  • This Bites!: The priest who was supposed to perform the Accino-Hiruno wedding is revealed to have hollowed out his Bible and used it to store a flask of vodka. Cross, who was forced to fill in for him, was not amused when he opened the book and found out.

  • James Bond:
    • Thunderball features a sound-activated listening device in a book, which Bond uses to determine if someone has sneaked into his room while he's been out.
    • One of the diamond smugglers in Diamonds Are Forever hides the goods inside a hollowed Bible.
    • Live and Let Die features the classic gun in a Bible.
  • Used in Johnny Dangerously: as Michael Keaton is being walked to the Chair, in passing each cell along the way each prisoner hands him one component of a Tommy gun which he assembles whilst walking. The last piece is in the Bible the priest is "reading" from. However, it's a fake gun, that falls apart mere moments after Johnny makes his escape.
  • In The Matrix, Neo keeps his illegal software inside a hollow copy of the real-world philosophy text "Simulacra and Simulation" by Jean Baudrillard. A real copy of Simulacra wouldn't be thick enough to hide that much stuff (it's not a very long book), so one can conclude that the filmmakers specifically worked this reference in as a hint to the nature of Neo's reality.

    The illegal software was hidden in the chapter titled "On Nihilism", again referencing the philosophical themes of the film. It's worth noting that Simulacra and Jean Baudrillard are huge influences to the Wachowskis, as plainly evident in the sequels.
  • In The Addams Family movie, the first stage of the secret entrance to the family vault is accessed by pulling a book out from a bookcase. The book's title? Greed. It's worth noting that ALL of the Addamses' books were like this, and that Greed was the most 'normal' book. Gone with the Wind causes a tornado when opened, and The Sun Also Rises emits daylight and the sound of birds.
  • The Shawshank Redemption: The warden of Shawshank prison opens up the Bible to discover that this is where Andy has been hiding the rock hammer he used to tunnel out of his cell. Salvation, indeed. For that extra touch of irony, the hollow section begins at Exodus.
  • In The Game, Michael Douglas's character keeps a revolver hidden in a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • One can also conceal documents between the inside of a book cover and its lining without removing any pages at all, as in The Good Shepherd.
  • There's a Western film where a large number of rifles are packed in crates labelled "Bibles".
  • In Cat Ballou, Uncle Jed, disguised as a preacher, produces a knife from his Bible and uses it to cut the rope on the gallows as it is placed around Cat's neck.
  • Alien: Resurrection. A Bible contains the modem Call uses to link to the ship's computer, presumably an electronic book with a 'traditional' cover.
  • In The Three Musketeers (1993), Aramis (who trained to be a priest) at one point pulls a pistol out of a hollowed-out Bible and shoots one of the Cardinal's guards with it.
  • In National Treasure, Ben's dad keeps money between the pages of Thomas Paine's Common Sense.
  • The lead character in Frankenhooker keeps a video tape stashed away in a copy of Grays Anatomy.
  • A book of Shakespeare with a gun in it is hidden within a Library in Hard Boiled. Alan walks into the library, gets the book and kills his target. Then he replaces the gun and book on the library shelf and walks out. This was apparently done so the hitman would never be armed if he was caught, but the police find the book because of the blood on it.
  • In Kickboxer V, the main character and his reluctant partner end up in prison, in which liquor is smuggled into cells by hiding the bottles into hollowed-out books, and delivering them through the library system.
  • The short film The Backwater Gospel has the Sinister Minister open his Bible to take a gun out in the climax. And he's not that bad of a shot, either. It doesn't save him though.
  • In Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon, Holmes conceals the parts of Dr. Tobel's bomb sight inside a pair of hollowed out books.
  • In BloodRayne II: Deliverance, the Preacher has a derringer hidden inside his hollowed-out Bible.
  • Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle has Kumar opening a thick medical prep textbook containing a bag of marijuana and use the paper to make joints.
  • In Theatre of Death, the killer keeps a knife hidden in a hollow ledger in Davras' library.
  • One of Mrs. Mac's many, many booze stashes in Black Christmas (1974) is in a hollowed out book in the bookcase in the sororitory house lounge.
  • In Dobermann, the Abbot carries a grenade inside a hollowed-out bible.
  • El Camino: Todd kept his drug money in a hollowed-out encyclopedia collection that his grandmother gave him. When his cleaning lady checks one of them and finds the money, he murders her for knowing too much.
  • In Angel Heart, Dr. Fowler keeps the bullets for his revolver hidden in a fake bible.
  • A variant in Dennis the Menace; Mr. Wilson has a safe that's shaped like a stack of books, which he keeps his coin collection in. When Dennis asks Mr. Wilson why his safe looks like a stack of books, Mr. Wilson tells him that it's so that a thief won't recognize it if he breaks into his house and tries to steal his coins. On the night of Mr. Wilson's garden party, Switchblade Sam finds out about Mr. Wilson's safe and robs it just as Mr. Wilson's rare flower blooms, and as Dennis was the only witness to the robbery, Mr. Wilson assumes he was Crying Wolf and gives him an angry speech that causes him to run away. Fortunately, Dennis defeats Sam and returns Mr. Wilson's gold the next morning.
  • Sam from About Scout hides money and pills in a copy of For Whom the Bell Tolls.
  • The library in Gunpowder Milkshake has so many of these one has to wonder if there are any actual books in the library, and how they keep casual browsers who might swing by believing that the building really is a library from finding the arsenals hidden in the bookcases.

  • The LARP of Killers mentions in the section on concealed weapons that players who hide their guns may have an advantage, but it's still considered legal self-defense to shoot the guy who's dropped into a firing stance and is pointing his geometry text at your heart.

  • Although in Star Wars they don't use actual paper books very often, the Star Wars Legends have a couple of examples where a tiny hold-out blaster is hidden in a box in Imperial libraries that was supposed to contain datacards: The Complete History of Corvis Minor. Supposedly the topic was so dull that no one who didn't know would choose to pick up the box.
    • When Mara Jade finds one in The Thrawn Trilogy, it's because as the former Emperor's Hand she knows exactly where to look. Providing his secret agents with quick and covert access to a weapon in an emergency was precisely why the Emperor had this particular box placed in every Imperial library across the galaxy, so when Mara has her blaster confiscated and needs a new one, she goes to the nearest library.
    • In the X-Wing Series, when Corran Horn finds one for himself along with a number of other hidden library secrets, it's because he has luck and the Force (which may be the same thing)—not to mention a lot of time to look around, as he is locked in the room alone. Corran being Corran, he cracks a joke to himself that if a blaster is the complete history of Corvis Minor, it must not be a vacation spot. Naturally, he follows up that thought by searching the remaining datacard boxes, hoping in vain to find additional weaponry.
      He eventually gave up on finding a "Complete History of Corvis Major" that might hold something a bit more substantial, like, say, an X-wing.
    • In the later book Isard's Revenge, the squadron ends up going on a mission to Corvis Minor. Just before they make the jump, Corran recalls the holdout blaster he'd found in the datacard box.
  • Discworld:
    • An odd variant that might be a subversion, a parody, or completely unrelated occurred in Night Watch, when a young Havelock Vetinari hid all the extant copies of a rare book on concealment inside the cover of Annals of the Great Accountants, Volume 3. He thought the author would have approved.
    • In Unseen Academicals, Mrs Whitlow has cleared Ridcully's chambers of food and smoking supplies on the night before the big match. Luckily, his copy of An Occult Primer contains mints, tobacco, and cigarette papers... along with a note from Mrs. Whitlow that she didn't have the heart to confiscate those as well.
  • Mike Ripley's Amateur Sleuth Angel has a copy of The History of the United States adapted into a fireproof safe.
  • James Bond:
  • The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. The protagonists hide their stash of rubles and US dollars inside a book of Pushkin's poems. Disaster is barely averted when the family is burning all their books during the winter of the Siege of Leningrad.
  • In The Baby-Sitters Club, Claudia mentions that she hides some sweets in a hollowed-out book.
  • In the Tim Dorsey novel Stingray Shuffle, a drug ring sells cocaine to its customers by running a book-shop and giving their drug customers hollowed-out paperbacks of a book entitled 'The Stingray Shuffle' (Chosen because it was an unpopular book that a normal customer wouldn't ask for) which had a gram of cocaine contained in the hollow. They sold so much drugs that way that they inadvertently triggered a revival of interest in the author, which caused a publicity event to be held at the shop, which caused normal people to accidentally buy paperbacks filled with drugs, which brought in the cops.
  • In one early Witcher story Geralt, convalescing in the Nenneke's monastery, hides his booze behind the books in the library, because Nenneke disapproved of his drinking. Dandelion, visiting his friend there, promptly hangs lampshade on this trope.
  • In Two Miles to the Border by J.T. Edson, the 'Daughters of the Lord' hide Colt Cloverleaf Pistols inside their heavy bibles.
  • Black Widowers: In "The Unabridged", a valuable postage stamp is hidden inside a book. The puzzle for the Widowers is to figure out which book (or, at least, narrow down the selection).
  • The Curse of the Blue Figurine: A Roman Missal is used as one, housing a blue ushabti (the titular "blue figurine") and a scroll with a note from the late Father Remigius Baart.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Smallville, Adam Knight hides his Lazarus serum in a hollow book.
  • On House, House hides a secret stash of Vicodin inside a textbook on Lupus, on the grounds that he'll never need the textbook because "It's never Lupus." (Shockingly, in the fourth season, they did get a Lupus case.)
  • Lost:
    • Eko finds pieces of a Dharma film in a hollowed-out Bible in the second season.
    • A different version might be when Penny puts her letter into Desmond's copy of Our Mutual Friend. Knowing that he'll turn to that book at his lowest time, it kind of works the same as a Bible.
  • In the opening credits for Blackadder The Third, Edmund is browsing through a library full of big, heavy history books with titles like From Black Death to Black Adder and The Blackobite Rebellion. He then picks up a particularly hefty tome with Blackadder The Third on the front, raises an eyebrow at the camera, and opens it to reveal a lurid paperback with the episode title.
  • Pushing Daisies: A nun keeps whiskey in a hollowed-out Bible and takes a Quick Nip during a prayer service when no one is looking.
  • The Vicar of Dibley: The eponymous vicar hides chocolate bars inside her Bibles.
  • The Wire: Randy is a group home kid who tries to stash the cash he's been earning in the spine of a school textbook. When he finds it stolen, it's one of the worst gut punches in the series.
  • An episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody has one of the twins hiding candy bars in hollowed-out cookbooks because his mom never looks at them.
  • In The Golden Girls, Blanche finds out after his passing that Big Daddy's Bible had a bottle of whiskey inside. Apparently, so did most of his other books.
    Blanche: So that's why every Sunday after services he would stand up and say, "I can lick any man in this church!"
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "Marco Polo", Marco hides the TARDIS keys in a secret compartment in his journal.
    • In "City of Death", the Scarlionis' secret collection of priceless historical books and manuscripts includes a book that's hollowed out as a hiding place for some Egyptian papyri.
  • Father Brown: In "The Brewer's Daughter", the woman in gaol Father Brown is trying to clear tells him to look for the Holy Grail. It turns out that the key to her father's safe is hidden inside a book titled The Holy Grail.
  • Gotham:In "All Happy Families Are Alike", Bruce finds a remote control hidden inside his father's copy of Marcus Aurelius's Meditations.
  • The Colbert Report: Colbert faked out the audience by revealing that he had a secret stash of Eggo waffles hidden inside of Sarah Palin's new book (the Palin story had to wait until the waffle shortage story was done).
    • In his second book, America Again, Colbert says he has a hollowed-out Bible he keeps a gun in, the caption reading "The meek shall inherit my lead! Mark: .45"
  • Once on Just Shoot Me!, Nina says that the only book she owns is the hollowed out almanac from her trip to Colombia.
  • One episode of Square One TV's "Mathnet" segment concerned the theft of a carved crystal pigeon. The detectives tracked down the culprit, but discovered the pigeon had been stolen from him in turn. He had been storing it in a book, the pages cut into the exact shape of the statue.
  • On an episode of The Incredible Hulk (1977) a hunter who enjoys hunting Hunting the Most Dangerous Game has Dr. Banner trapped in a room; a clue leads him to a key hidden inside a hollowed out book on chess, which was a major thematic element of the episode.
  • Played for comic effect on The George Lopez Show:
    Benny: If you [Angie] ever tell anyone what's in this book [money] I will kill you with what's in that book.
  • In an episode of Night Court, we discover in Harry's office a bookshelf that has a set of legal texts that hinge up to reveal a secret compartment, holding his pet rabbit.
  • Conversational Troping in Murdoch Mysteries:
    George: I love secret compartments, they're so mysterious. I've been thinking of putting a secret compartment in my book. I mean in the story, not in the actual ... Sir! A secret compartment in the actual book! It could hide a ... a smaller book!
  • Stargate SG-1: Vala and Daniel find two ancient communication stones hidden in a hollowed-out "Book of Origin" (basically, the Ori version of the The Bible) when they are transported to the Ori galaxy.
  • One episode in season 3 of Babylon 5 shows several religious figures paying a visit. The real reason for their visit was to relay information from Earth, contained in data crystals which one of them had kept hidden in a Bible.
  • In a one-off gag in Community, Shirley opens a library book to find a gun-shaped compartment cut into it. She looks shocked, then decides she wants no part of it and puts the book back.
  • In one episode of Pawn Stars, a completely hollow wooden book meant for pistol smuggling was showcased. Considering all it held at the time was an arrest record, though, apparently it didn't work...
  • In 30 Rock, after Liz officiates over his divorce with Avery, Jack gifts her a remote control holder shaped like a book from Sky Mall. Note that while Jack is tremendously rich, Liz loves useless kitsch like that.
  • In Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, the fifth episode of the first season has a variation items hidden in the spine of books. Including the poison that killed the episode's victim.
  • The New Avengers: In "Forward Base", a Russian agent has the radio for contacting the eponymous forward base inside a copy of the Bible.
  • Murder, She Wrote: In "The Great Twain Robbery", the Victim of the Week hides the stolen page from a manuscript within the pages of another book.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The episode "Paradise Lost" features the backstory of Hydra leader Gideon Malick, where he learns after his father's death he was secretly rigging their Hydra faction's Lottery of Doom to make sure he never drew out the fatal white stone, hiding one with an etch in it in his copy of Milton.
  • Leverage: In "The Beantown Bail-Out Job", Parker (who is disguised as a nun) uses a mould she has hidden inside a hollowed-out Bible to make a cast of the safety deposit master key.
  • CSI: In "Skin in the Game", the Theme Serial Killer leaves hollowed out bibles containing dowels at the scene of his crimes.
  • In The Office (US) season 2 episode "The Fire", the staff play the "desert island" game where you're asked what three books would you bring on a desert island. Dwight thinks outside the box and says he'd bring a hollowed out Physician's Desk Reference with survival gear inside and an unaltered copy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, in case he gets bored on the island.
  • The Elementary episode "On the Scent" involves a drug dealer who keeps her cannabis in a copy of Leaves of Grass. Sherlock lampshades the pun.
  • In the Broad City episode "The Matrix," Ilana stores weed in a hollowed-out history book.
  • For Life: Captain Foster smuggles in drugs for Cassius by hiding them in a Bible.

    Music Videos 
  • The video for Spaceship by Phase features a hammer (being used by oppressed office workers to dig an escape tunnel) hidden in a hollowed out book.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In The Wizard of Id, the lawyer hides bottles of alcohol of some sort within his thick law books.
  • Dick Tracy has when Flattop is hiding out in a boarding house and decides keeping his loot on his person is too risky. So, when he sees an old thick photo album under a table that looks rarely used, he decides to cut out the inner pages and hide his money in it. As it happens, the kid blackmailing Flattop has drowned while ice skating on expensive skates bought with the shakedown money. Those skates led Tracy to the boarding house where he requests the boy's mother to get a photo for the newspaper and so they go to the photo album and the money is discovered. When Tracy asks where this money came from, the mother guesses it must be from her boarder and Tracy proceeds to Flattop's room while the crook is frantically trying to escape.


    Tabletop Games 
  • On The Mother of All Treasure Tables, one of the treasures worth 50 gold pieces is a hollowed-out religious book that contains a silver hip flask filled with apple brandy.


    Video Games 
  • In Realms of the Haunting Florentine likes to hide plot-relevant keys in his journals, making it a vital aspect for the player to actually bother reading/inspecting them.
  • Through the Looking-Glass actually came packaged as one of these.
  • Exmortis 2 had a Bible with an ornate dagger in it, designed to destroy the "Hand of Exmortis''. The player character ignores the Bible entirely until he reads a related journal, though.
  • Scratches: A bible hidden in the chapel of Blackwood Manor had a section carved out for a thick steel nail, which fits into the chapel's enormous crucifix to reveal a hidden room.
  • Aurora: the only thing in your hotel room is a book with an (unloaded) gun in it.
  • Shad, in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, is generally a non-action kind of guy. However, he does carry around an ornamental dagger... which he uses as a bookmark.

    Visual Novels 
  • Trying to get word out about Project Hurtful, Nageki hollowed out an encyclopedia and filled it with relevant documents, in the backstory to Hatoful Boyfriend.

  • In Grrl Power Elsbeth's book seems like a combination of this trope and a Bag of Holding. As demonstrated when she looks up "mana potion", "antidote", and "assault rifle".

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Western Animation/Disenchantment, Bean declared her party a bust, saying she's going to curl up with her favorite book, to which Luci replies, "The hollowed-out one with booze inside?"
  • The Simpsons:
    • Homer repeatedly took out a flask hidden in a Bible whenever he claimed he needed guidance ("Now I know why they call it the good book.") He freaked out at the end of the episode when it was somehow replaced with a real Bible.
    • In a Halloween episode he keeps a donut stashed in a book at work. Except when he needs it he finds he's eaten it already and left himself an IOU. He curses himself for always being one step ahead.
  • The Oblongs: The old racist Church Militant woman was made Czar of Child Services. When she was first appointed she took out a Bible and said she had all she needed "right here". She then yelled "Behold, the piece of The Lord!" when she proceeded to pull the gun out (accidentally shooting it into the air.)
  • Helga Pataki of Hey Arnold! often kept her diary inside a much larger book.
  • This happens in King of the Hill, where Dale walks into Peggy's newly-acquired bookstore and attempts to hollow out The Odyssey on the counter in front of her to stash his handgun. Peggy naturally is appalled by this. What should have tipped her off was that Dale didn't even ask for any book in particular, he just wanted a thick one.
    Peggy: What the hell are you doing!?
    Dale: I can't hide a gun inside it unless I hollow it out, unless you got some precuts?
  • Some episodes of Dexter's Laboratory used a book mechanism to allow access to the lab (which was located behind the bookcase in Dexter's room).
  • Beware the Batman: In "Games", the books in the library in Humpty Dumpty's Death Course house are hollow and contain guns.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: As part of his riddle, Discord hides The Elements of Harmony inside a book of the same name.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Tome Is Where The Heat Is


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