How Are Pop-up Books Made?
Pop-up books are just one particular type of a larger group of books known as movable or mechanical books. In addition to pop-up books, movable books include transformations, tunnel books, flaps, pull-tabs, pop-outs, pull-downs, and even some types of three-dimensional greeting cards.
These books come from the art of paper engineering. They are associated with origami, because both involve paper folding. Unlike origami, however, these books rely on scissors and glue, as well as heavy card stock as opposed to paper that’s easily folded.
The first movable books for children were made by hand by skilled craftsmen. Over time, these time-intensive processes were automated with the help of machines. Children’s pop-up books became very popular all over the world. Publishers even began to reprint traditional fairy tales to add new pop-up features to delight children and spur them to read more. Today, hundreds of new pop-up books are produced each year.
Making a pop-up book requires a lot of skill and planning. First, all the usual work that goes into a normal book is required. Then, once the storyline and illustrations are complete, the project goes to a paper engineer who must determine how many of what kind of movable elements should go into the book.
Paper engineers must be both imaginative and practical, as they seek to entertain while also designing a book that will last for years and years with repeated readings. Great care must be given to designing pop-up elements that will not break over time.
Paper engineers must ask themselves which pieces need to be attached and in what way. How long should pull tabs be? How much glue should be used? Mathematics plays an important role in this phase of making pop-up books.
Some pop-up books make an impact with more than just paper. For example, small sound chips are sometimes used to play recorded messages or music, making books that please both the eyes and the ears!
Although modern printing presses can generate all the necessary pieces of pop-up books quickly and efficiently, many pop-up books are still assembled by hand. Sometimes it takes groups as large as 60 people to put together a single book in an assembly line that involves folding, cutting, inserting, connecting, and gluing!