Originally produced by the News Chronicle newspaper and based on the children's game, the I-Spy books were basically a pictorial checklist of items that could be found under the specific heading of the book. When all of the items were spotted and noted in the spaces provided, the book could be sent off to "Big Chief I-Spy" for an official stamp of completion. There was a club associated with these books and this was known as "The Great I-Spy Tribe"! In those more innocent times, the possible insult that all this might offer the American Indian was totally ignored - probably never even thought of! - but as times and attitudes changed, the American Indian 'link' was eventually was dropped by the publishers.
The code book could be used to decipher secret messages printed in the News Chronicle, which was fine if your parents chose to buy this newspaper, but otherwise was not! I seem to remember that there was another use for this codebook, but whether this was within the books, or some other publication, I can't remember. Can anybody help?
More and more titles were added and most had design changes over time. Sometimes a cover would be redrwan, coloured or completely redesigned. Publishers varied and even the wording of contents changed.
Recently, I-Spy books were re-introduced and eventually bought by Michelin, who went on to add more titles and update existing ones. The I-Spy story continues...
Here are some covers from my collection: