The pop up book is a book with paper elements within the pages that may be manipulated by the reader. Many refer to such a book as a moveable book. Pop up books include text, illustrations, and folded, glued, or pull-tab elements that move within the pages of the story. The pop up book is primarily marketed to children.
The moveable paper elements within the pop up book require the expertise of a paper engineer to effectively design these elements. This paper engineer is part engineer and part creative designer, constantly seeking new, fun elements to design into pop up books while ensuring they will inexpensive to produce and successfully manipulated. The paper engineer communicates to the printer/publishers how the moveable elements are die cut and then assembled. The die cutting of these elements is expensive and complex. Even more expensive is the extraordinary amount of hand work the moveable elements require as many must be cut, folded and pasted by hand (some books include 100 elements that require hand manipulation). In fact, pop up books are becoming somewhat collectible because of the extraordinary amount of hand assembly that goes into the construction of each book. The pop up book has been the subject of at least two art museum exhibits in which the art of the illustrator and the design of the paper engineer have been highlighted.
Moveable books are hardly new. About 700 years ago people used simple books with moving parts to teach about anatomy or make astronomical predictions. Even fortune-telling used moveable books. The pop up book was the domain of adults until the late 1880s when metamorphoses books, also called turn-up books, included fold-out illustrations within the pages of children's books. By the nineteenth century such moveable books were published in some quantity in England. By mid-century a British firm was happily producing such books for children, and by the twentieth century they had published over 50 titles.
An American firm named McLoughlin Brothers of New York city produced the first moveable books in the United States about 1880. They were large plates that unfolded into multi-layered displays. As Europeans found cheaper papers and booksellers sought to enlarge their markets cheaper and more inventive pop up books were developed in the early twentieth century. By the 1960s American Waldo Hunt created advertising inserts and premiums inspired by Czechoslovakian works. Hunt began to produce his own moveable books for popular consumption and is believed to have popularized the moveable book in the mid-twentieth century. Today, pop up books are enormously popular with children because of the novelty of the moveable elements greeting cards and advertisements include pop up elements. Recent pop up books for children are written on topics as diverse as astronomy, geology, meteorology, children's classics, and dinosaurs.
The typical pop up book uses heavy gauge paper for the pages and the moveable elements of the book, heavy board cover in front and back, glue for securing the cover, and glue for the attachment of the pop up elements. Inks of a wide variety may be used in the printing, from soy-based inks to more traditional oil-based inks. Many pop up books are coated with a coating on the page to make them sturdier and dirt-resistant. These coatings include oil-based varnishes that render a shiny surface on the page. Some companies use aqueous or water-borne varnishes. Other pop up books use a plastic film that is put over the pages as a laminate.
There are many checkpoints in the production of a pop up book as there is much at stake if small mistakes are discovered after the book goes to publication. Publishing is very expensive and few publishers are able to make a large amount of money on these books. The eyes of the designer, illustrators, paper engineer, and author must look for mistakes prior to production.
There is some waste in the production of pop up books. Paper waste may be discarded by the manufacturer; however, it is more likely the paper is recycled or re-used by another company. Solvent-based coatings on the pages are fairly common but are being phased out because of problems with disposal. Companies increasingly prefer aqueous varnishes, which are water-based and
Carvajal, Doreen. "Boing! Pop-Up Books are Growing Up." New York Times Web Page. 27 November 2000. December 2001. < http://www.nytimes.com/learning/students/quiz/articles/27POPU.html >.
Designmation, Inc. Web Page. December 2001. < http://www.pop-ups.com/new/process.html >.
Oral interview with Greg Witt, Customer Service Representative at Leo Paper Company. Seattle, WA. November 2001.
Oral interview with Sarah Ketcherside, editor at Candlewick Press. New York, NY. November 2001.
Nancy EV Bryk