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Tips & Bits #24: Power of the Pamphlet

Recently updated on February 9th, 2021 at 08:04 pm

A pamphlet is defined as an unbound booklet (without a hard cover) consisting of a single sheet of paper that is printed on both sides and folded in half, in thirds, or in fourths, or it may consist of a few pages that are folded in half and stapled at the crease. In order to be officially recognized as a pamphlet, UNESCO requires a publication (other than a periodical) to have “at least 5 but not more than 48 pages exclusive of the cover ;” a longer item is a book.

Thanks to their low cost and ease of production, pamphlets often have been used to promote political or religious ideas. Today’s bogging community should identify deeply with the “pamphleteers” of yesteryear because the blog is the modern-day equivalent of the pamphlet.

Here are a few pamphlets that have—arguably—changed the course of history, proving once again that the pen is mightier than the sword. A Modest Proposa, written and published by Jonathan Swift in 1729. He suggested that the impoverished Irish might ease their economic woes by selling children as food for rich gentlemen and ladies. His satirical hyperbole mocks heartless attitudes towards the poor, as well as British policy in Ireland in general. Thomas Paine is often considered a Father of the American Revolution thanks to the pro-independence pamphlet he published on January 10, 1776.

Common Sense, spread like wildfire, and in three months 100,000 copies sold throughout the American British colonies. In the first edition of The Manifesto of the Communist Party, published in German in 1848, Marx and Engels laid out the beliefs of the Communist League. The opening lines of the pamphlet set forth the principal of Marxism, that “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” A Message to Garcia, written by Elbert Hubbard. has been made into two motion pictures. It was originally published as filler without a title in 1899 but was quickly reprinted as a pamphlet. It proved to be unexpectedly popular, selling over 40 million copies.

Want to deliver a message to those who aren’t tuned into the internet? Need to provide something that will carry the weight and credibility of the printed page? Than a pamphlet is the medium you were searching for. So put your ideas down on paper and get them into print. Who know what kind of revolution you’ll be starting!

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