Sound Book Production

Adding an interactive sound element to your book ensures that your reader is physically engaged, resulting in heightened interest and enjoyment. From books for the youngest pre-reader to those aimed at the serious collector, our blog explores some of the different ways of incorporating sounds into books.


Noisy Books

In its simplest form, a simple press button is mounted into the back board and a hole punched through the book so that the button is accessible from each spread.  The child can enjoy pressing the button to hear the sound whilst being read to.  Conversely, the sound chip can be embedded and concealed in the back board and is activated only when the final spread is revealed, great for a surprise ending.   The sound can be activated by light (a small hole is diecut in the leaf) or by a sliding tab. 

sound panels.jpgAnother popular format is to have a sound panel with multiple sounds, activated by pressing.  Many suppliers have standard housings with varying numbers of buttons, allowing 5 sounds, 8 sounds, 12 sounds, etc.   Using an off the shelf housing avoids costly set ups.   The sound panel is generally affixed to an extended back board and the child presses the appropriate sound at the right point in the story.

Having sound on every leaf is entirely possible and can be done very neatly.   A series of wired switches are attached to the sound module and are threaded from the back of the spine and sandwiched between the board leaves.    Flat printed switches (printed onto plastic membranes) are the neatest option and avoid unsightly bumps across the page.  

Here at Imago we have been working with a patent holder who has developed an ingenious system whereby the motion of turning each page sets up a series of electrical connections at the spine, enabling different sounds to trigger depending on where you are in the book.  This allows a different sound on each spread without wiring the individual pages. 

The board book format is most commonly used when sound is required, not only is it ideally suited for early readers, it’s perfect for concealing wires and covers can be built up to accommodate the bulk of the electronic components. Using sound in picture books is also possible and can even work on a limp book.

Sound book spine.JPG

Sound quality

speaker 2.jpg

The quality and duration of the sound required has a direct bearing on the type of speaker, chip, battery and ultimately the cost of the electronic component. Simple mechanical sounds (such as sirens, animal noises) can use a simple piezo or buzzer and require relatively little chip memory.   Such sounds are often available “off the shelf” from the supplier.

speaker.jpgFor the human voice, spoken or singing, a more sophisticated, more expensive speaker is needed.  Bespoke recordings will require IC masking, i.e. the chip and integrated circuit has to be programmed specially.   Minimum order quantities and a set up cost will apply., battery and ultimately the cost of the electronic component. 

High end “audio” books

Over the years we have worked on many high end projects incorporating sound:  books with stereo sound, books which include a digital audio player with MP3 quality sound and projects such as the Star Wars Vault and Bounty Hunter which combine sound, light and movement.   These are high value collector’s pieces and take the noisy book to a new level and audience.

What’s next?

Together with our expert partners, we are always developing new ways to bring the book and the latest technologies together.   Printed electronics, capacitive touch, radio transmission, RFID are just some of the technologies we’ve been exploring and prototyping.

Next time you want your book to buzz, squeak or talk, talk to us!