Digitizing Interactive Books

The digitization of texts is at the core of first wave digital humanities projects. Google Books has scanned over 30 million books, HathiTrust has over 5 million ebooks, and Project Gutenberg has digitized over 50,000 texts. Google Books uses automatic scanning of the physical pages whereas Project Gutenberg makes the text available in ASCII, independent from the original page layout or typography. Both of these approaches are based on two-dimensional, primarily text-oriented books. Conspicuously absent from all three collections are the category of "toy and movable books." This is likely because they do not translate fully via photographs, scans, or transcriptions. There are a few videos of pop-up books scattered across the internet, but these are usually promotional for sales or exhibitions. The technology to easily capture video and 3D models is more accessible and affordable than ever before, and yet the resource shortages that many libraries, archives, and museums are already facing means that incorporating a new method of preservation is unlikely to happen in the near future (notable exceptions include the Smithsonian Institute, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the British Museum). My project aims to better take into account the materiality of movable books by exploring multiple methods of digitization; finding optimal solutions based on type of movability, accessibility, and cost; and exploring best archival practices. For example, movable books incorporating pull tabs are better digitized via a time-based medium like video while intricate pop-ups are better digitized via a spatial-based medium like 3D scanning. Furthermore, there are a multitude of scanning tools to choose from such as a lower-resolution mobile application like Autodesk's 123D Catch which uses a tablet's built-in camera and photogrammetry or a desktop application like Autodesk Memento which can use high-resolution photographs from any camera. And lastly, based on data collected in the Spring 2014 Global Attitudes Survey by the Pew Research Center, another point to consider is that in developing countries like Indonesia, Ghana, India, Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda, a person is more likely to have a smartphone. Therefore, it's important that the data be archived online in a mobile-friendly manner so that it can be more globally accessible.

For more information on movable books, see the following links:

  • Dissolving Scene Icon

    Dissolving Scene

    Dissolving scenes have pull tabs and slats that reveal a different scene. See example

  • Flap Icon


    Flaps are manually manipulated to reveal what's under the flap.
    See Example

  • Paper Doll Icon

    Paper Doll

    Paper dolls are perforated paper cutout shapes that can move around the scene.
    Read More

  • Pop Up Icon

    Pop Up

    Pop Up books have elements that pop off the page when the spread is opened. PW: ilovepopups See Example

  • Pull tab Icon

    Pull tab

    Pull tabs move elements around the page.
    See example

  • Tunnel Icon


    Books with tunnels have cutouts that reveal the pages behind them to create one master scene.
    Read More

  • Volvelle Icon


    Volvelles are usually circular, spinnable elements using a brad in the center.
    See Example

Current Positions

PhD Candidate in the English department @UF. NEH Summer Scholar 2018. HASTAC Scholar 2016-2018. Guest Editor of Trace: Innovation Initiative. Graduate Student Representative on the Digital Humanities Certificate Committee @UF. Co-instructor of Arduino trainings at the Marston Science Library @UF. Lead Graphic Designer/Technical Editor at The Athena Group, Inc.

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