Friday, January 28, 2011

What Booksellers Wish Publishers Knew: Pop-Up Edition

Pop-up books can be intricate and entertaining.  Kids love grabbing and touching books anyway, so why not give them something interactive, where they can pull a tab or turn a page and a monster pops out or a castle opens up?

From Robert Sabuda's Beauty and the Beast

Try doing that on a Kindle!

The downside of pop-up books is that they fall apart.  If you think your kids are hard on pop-up books, guess what happens in a bookstore?  Aside from collectors, who usually know how to treat a book properly, customers by the hundreds open these works of art and play with them, and they're, well... a mess.


Our display copy of Star Wars A Pop-Up Guide to the Galaxy by Matthew Reinhart keeps bursting open.  Many of the pages are bent or torn.

Poor Cinderella won't even pop up anymore in this copy of Cinderella: A Pop up Fairy Tale by Matthew Reinhart.  In fact, I think she's about to lose her head!

And there's no way we can sell books that have suffered this kind of abuse.

My solution?   

Every pop-up book needs to come with a display copy.

Perfumes and lotions have testers.  Why not pop-up books?

Let customers open the display copy all they want. The copies for sale should be double-shrinkwrapped so they can't be ruined.  Sadly, only a handful of pop-ups, usually from the major publishers, come with an extra copy (at no charge to the bookstore) for display.  If there's no display copy, inevitably customers will ask me to open one. Or they'll just go ahead and help themselves. 

This DC Super Heroes pop-up came with its own cardboard stand and a free display copy -- and in a clever move, the publisher included sticky tape on the spine so it's a permanent part of the stand and can't be taken away.

What do you think?  Are pop-up books just for collectors?  Have you ever purchased a pop-up book?  Did your kids get enough enjoyment out of it before it fell apart?  And when e-readers become the norm, will pop-up books still be published?  Would you miss them if they weren't?


  1. I hate pop up books because they're so easily riped by little hands. Now if only romances came in pop up form. ;)

  2. They MIGHT be for collectors, likely artists like myself. Sadly, I think they're paper sculpture that's dying with the printed page. There's so much tactile stuff marketed to kids, that the vast majority assume that all those little paper standees are meant to be pulled. However, I think it's important that children understand the idea of 3 dimensions, where most books are basically 2 dimensions. My proposal would be to continue production of them, but make books for kids who are old enough to understand just how delicate they are.

  3. Aha, Stina! Think of the possibilities for romance in pop-up form. Oooo... Thanks!

    Anonymous artist,thank you for your insight. I think most Sabuda and Reinhart books ARE marketed to older children (or collectors). They're way too complicated for 3-year-olds.

    Younger kids can have David Carter pop-ups, or Matthew Van Fleet lift-the-flaps (which we actually shelve alongside pop-ups).


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