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Pop-up Book Collector Joe

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We would like you to meet pop-up book collector Joe Yow from the United States. Joe is retired from teaching and law enforcement.  He’s collecting pop-up books for over two years now and already has a very impressive collection of pop-up and movable collectables. Joe collects antique books, special and rare editions and illustrated books from the golden age of book illustration. The oldest books in his collection are over 400 years old! 

Until two years ago Joe never really considered collecting pop-up books. Even though he always liked the concept of pop-ups and moveable books. Like a lot of people, Joe thought that pop-up books were basically for children. Then one day at the California Academy of Sciences, he noticed the pop-up book Voyage to the Heart of Matter: The Atlas Experiment, and was overjoyed to find a book on one of his favorite subjects explained in a detailed three-dimensional format. Joe started looking more and more into pop-up books and a few months later he bought the Game of Thrones pop-up book. And that was it! I was in for good, Joe says.


BPUB – What’s the first pop-up book you bought?
JY – The first pop-up book I bought was Voyage to the Heart of Matter. As a tremendous “fan” of quantum physics and the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) project, this book appealed to me because of its three-dimensional descriptions of the LHC and the Atlas project at Cern, Switzerland. I next got the Game of Thrones pop-up book, and that brought to light the wondrous world of the more complex pop-up books. Robert Sabuda, Mathew Reinhart and Bruce Foster soon became my close buds, and I began grabbing up their books (as my budget would permit, of course). I then discovered the works of Jan Pienkowski, Sam Ita and others. I have now started collecting books by Vojtech Kubasta, Geraldine Clyne, Blue Ribbon, and other vintage artists/publishers.

BPUB – Who are your favorite pop-up book authors or paper engineers?
JY – I really have no favorite pop-up book authors or paper engineers. For complexity and volume of pup-ups per page, Reinhart, Sabuda and Foster are a sure bet. Ita’s graphic novel pop-up books are unique and sheer joy to behold, and effectively demonstrate how pop-ups can greatly enhance the reading experience. Moerbeek and the Santoros bring innovative applications to their work. Carter’s pop-ups are often on the simpler side, yet highly artistic. And Kubasta’s illustrations are beautiful, whimsical and expressive, and his pop-ups were probably the first to extend beyond the edges of the pages and book.

“I have become so involved with pop-up books that I have learned how to repair them”

Joe Yow

BPUB – What are your favorite books in your collection and why?
JY – I am definitely a fan of complex pop-ups. Reinhart’s Transformers, with actually transforming pop-ups takes the pop-up concept to a wonderful new level. As does his Game of Thrones, with the ability to transform the entire book into a 3D map of Westeros and Essos. One Piece Grand Paper Adventure, from Japanese publisher Shueisha, is well made, beautifully illustrated, and full of complex and diverse pop-ups and movables. It is a true work of art.

One fantastic sleeper in the pop-up book world (in my opinion) is Animus, by Seonna Hong, illustrator of the Power Puff Girls. Animus utilizes simple, yet cleverly constructed pop-ups and movables, combined with beautiful paintings and engaging text to deliver a powerful message.

I also very much like vintage and antique pop-up (and moveable) books. They are of course harder to find in favorable condition, often more expensive, and less complex than so many of the contemporary works, but I find them a joy to handle and behold. I have books by Kubasta (1960’s) and Blue Ribbon (1932-34), as well as Jolly Jump-Ups (1940’s) and the In Action books by Walter Phillips (1949), to name a few. I have also started collecting moveable books by Julian Wehr (1940’s).

BPUB – How many books are there in your collection?
JY – I now have well over 100 pop-up books plus over 2,000 antiquarian and special collections books, and I have some from every decade from the 1930’s to the present, as well as a Mcloughlin Bothers “Pantomime Theater Toy Book” from 1891. I have only been collecting for two years, and considering that I am very selective on what books I purchase (and my being more of a pauper than a prince), I consider this to be a decent number. For now.

BPUB – What book is missing or will be the first one you’ll order next?
JY – There are so many! I would of course love to have more of the vintage/antiquarian books, but these will come in time. At the moment I am waiting for Il Etait Une Fois, with artwork by Benjamin Lacombe, to arrive from the UK, and am planning on getting soon The Pop Up Art Book featuring art from Angry Woebots, Skinner, Kozyndan, Junko Mizuno, Tara McPherson, and Jim Mahfood.

BPUB – If you could choose a subject for a new pop-up book by your favorite author, what would it be?
JY – I actually have two subjects that are near and dear to me that I would love to see in pop-up books. The first is the history and making of books, and the second is an in-depth look into quantum physics.

BPUB – Is there anything else you would like to share with other pop-up book fans?
JY – I have become so involved with pop-up books that I have learned how to repair them. I have bought several books for extremely low prices, that needed repairs, some of the repairs being quite complex and extensive (at least from my point of view), and have restored the pop-up mechanisms to “good as new.” In order to repair them, I had to learn how the different pop-up mechanisms work. This led me to make pop-up cards for my wife and daughter, and I am now working on making my first pop-up book. The past two years of learning about and collecting pop-up and moveable books has added a rich, artistic, and interactive dimension to my book collecting.

BPUB – Thank you Joe for sharing your impressive pop-up book collection with us!

WANTED: Pop-up book fans and collectors

Do you have a pop-up book collection you would like to share with other fans? Do you have special items like a signed book or special edition? Let us know and send us a picture and answer the questions below and maybe, you’ll find your collection on this page!

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Send us a (landscape cropped) picture of you and your pop-up book collection and a short introduction of yourself. Don’t forget to include the answers to the questions from our Fan interview. You can send it to fans@bestpopupbooks.com

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