Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Do Tablet Apps and Ebooks Spell the End of Pop-Up Books?

The Book Beast - It’s too early to say that pop-up books are dead, but it seems clear that a lot of the fun they presented has been channeled into ebooks and book apps for kids

Are pop-up books dying? We remember pulling our first paper tab and seeing a book miraculously come to life. But a lot of kids these days are getting that kick on iPads and other fancy tablets. Which makes one wonder if the steady stream of interactive ebooks aimed at kids means that this generation won’t have childhood memories of Pat the Bunny, Where’s Spot, or Peter Rabbit?

Anyone worried about the future can exhale—sort of. Pop -up books aren’t dead, they’ve just turned into book apps. The apps for, say, Peter Rabbit or Alice in Wonderland are the easiest to compare to old fashioned pop-up books, thanks to their traditional stylings and digital pull-tabs. They inhabit a strange middle ground between ebook and app: not strictly text but also not quite Angry Birds. They are what ebooks would look like if their illustrations came to life.
The other digital successors to old fashioned pop-ups are magazine apps, such as those for GQ and Esquire, with their interactive doodads, moving images, and digital easter eggs if you shake your screen just so.
Magazine apps and book apps for kids may be the new pop-ups, but that doesn’t mean we should go all Fahrenheit 451 just yet.
Pop - up book - Fred Dufour, AFP - Getty Images

Pop-up books, pretty much anything on paper that has moving parts or appears in 3D, first showed up in the 1300s but didn’t really start catering to kids until about 500 years later. In the 90s, thanks to some improved printing know-how and artistic gumption, things like The Daily Express Children’s Annual sprouted up. Innovators like Vojtech Kubasta in Prague and Waldo Hunt in the U.S. tried to blend high-level paper cutting with charming titles featuring Babar, Sesame Street, and Disney characters.
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