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I recently watch Miss Potter, the movie based on the life of children’s book author and illustrator Beatrix Potter. It’s a fascinating look at the life of one of the all-time best selling authors of children’s books. When my children were small, I read The Tale of Peter Rabbit
The scene in the movie that particularly caught my attention showed Beatrix having strong opinions about the publication of her book, advocating for black and white illustrations to keep the cost down. The publisher then suggested an alternative, proposing that all the interior pages be printed on one sheet of paper to keep the price attractive and low.
The brilliant decision to design the book for an economical printing method undoubtedly played a major role in its skyrocketing popularity. This model is now so widely used that modern children’s picture books are still created for one-sheet printing which equals 32 pages.
In the children’s picture book industry, 32 pages is the most commonly used length, not because it is the best story length, but because it is the most economical to print. This is done by placing all 32 pages on a single sheet through standard offset printing.
It appears that a standard length for children’s picture books has been established, resulting in a common type of narrative being told.
If you have a title page, half-title page, copyright page and dedication page, that takes up 3-5 pages of “front matter,” leaving 27-29 pages for the story itself. Stories usually start on page 5 (though it could be page 3 or 4). Then illustrations are laid out in double-page spreads. That gives you about 14 double-page spreads (give or take). When I write a children’s picture book, I divide my story into 14 sections. Each section must 1) advance the story, 2) make the reader want to turn the page, and 3) give visual possibilities to the illustrator. For more on writing a children’s book, see How to Write a Children’s Picture Book.
The 32-page picture book has become a standard in the literary world, with conventions such as the page 32 twist, the character opening, and the utilization of double-page spreads having been developed around this format. Authors and illustrators have taken this limited structure and crafted something exquisite.
Print on Demand and eBooks: How Many Pages in a Children’s Book?
What is the most cost-effective approach to creating a children’s illustrated book in the present day? The response to this inquiry is varied due to the rise of print-on-demand and eBook technologies.
Print-on-demand (POD) is a great solution for self-publishers or small publishers who don’t want to invest a lot in inventory. This system stores books on a printing company’s computer, and when someone orders a copy, it is printed, bound and mailed out. This eliminates the need for warehousing and combines the fulfillment and printing processes. With POD, there is minimal initial investment required, which makes it an attractive option for those who are looking to print a smaller quantity of books.
Despite the merits of Print On Demand (POD), its biggest downside is its cost. Due to the fact that a single book is printed at a time, the unit cost is often two or three times that of offset printing. Although this can be costly, one advantage is that the expense of wholesaling books to bookstores is avoided when selling online.
Print On Demand (POD) has revolutionized the publishing industry by removing the need for a 32-page picture book requirement. For example, Createspace.com only requires a minimum of 24 pages, but after that you can choose to add as many or as few pages as you like. Even 26 pages can work with a POD printer.
Digital books can be as lengthy or as short as desired. While two pages might not be considered a book by some, it is certainly possible to make a strong argument for it.
For many years, the 32-page illustrated picture book was cost effective to produce due to the offset printing presses, which were able to fit large sheets of paper that would precisely hold 32 pages.
The options are open.Offset printing:If you adhere to the 32-page standard book, you can achieve much lower unit costs.
POD printing:Acknowledging the advantages of not having to keep an inventory, you agree to pay more for each item. The choice is yours.
eBook: You accept that this is only delivered and read digitally. Page length is variable.
I have chosen to keep my books at 32 pages since I create both print and eBooks and I have become accustomed to writing for that amount of pages. Additionally, this allows me to take advantage of short-run offset printing for special orders when it would be more cost-effective. By adhering to the industry standards, I am able to explore more possibilities.
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Picture Books by Darcy Pattison
Watch more videos on the same topic : For Picture Book Creators: 32 Page Standard – Why? How Many Pages For Story?
An explanation of why 32 pages is the standard for picture books, and what this means for picture book creators (hint: this does NOT mean all 32 pages are available for your story content).nn***CORRECTION: The separate/colored ends are NOT glued to the first page of the book block, sorry!nnWhen I mention my own books begin on pages 6-7, by the way, please remember that most of my books for Simon u0026 Schuster are self-ended 40-page picture books. The decision to increase from 32 to 40 pages was made by my publisher, not by me. For pre-published picture book writers with no track record, I recommend sticking to the standard 32 page template; you can always discuss the possibility of increasing the page count after your mss has been acquired.nnAlso forgot to mention that my print-ready templates are just guidelines. Where the story content actually begins and ends can vary from one publisher to another, and one project to another. As I emphasized at the end of my session, read and analyze many picture books to get a sense of what’s out there.nnSome links I mentioned:nnCreating Picture Books (lots of resources and free templates):nhttps://www.debbieohi.com/pbcreationnnDebbie’s Free Print-Ready Archive:nhttps://www.debbieohi.com/printreadynnTara Lazar’s post on picture book dummies, picture book construction, layouts:nhttps://taralazar.com/2009/02/22/picture-book-construction-know-your-layout/nnMireille Messiernhttps://www.mireille.ca/nn============nSoftware / hardware I used to create this livestream:nnEcamm Live (for the picture in picture feature, overlays, switching between scenes etc.)nhttps://www.ecamm.com/nnRestream.io (how I streamed to Twitter, Periscope, FB Live, YouTube at same time):nhttps://restream.io/channelnnOverhead camera: Canon M50nnOverhead lighting: Homemade ring light! See my DIY videonhttps://youtu.be/4oMBBw7hBQMnnHeadshot webcam: an ancient Logitech whose model I can’t recall, sorrynn—————————nn** ABOUT ME:nnI’m Debbie Ridpath Ohi, a children’s book writer and illustrator based in Canada. My illustrations have appeared in books by Judy Blume and Michael Ian Black, among others. I love encouraging creativity in young writers and illustrators. You can find out more at https://www.debbieohi.com/nnEmail newsletter: debbieohi.link/newsletternnCreating Picture Books resource (with free templates):nhttps://www.debbieohi.com/pbcreationnnFree, print-ready stuff for educators and creators: nhttp://DebbieOhi.com/printreadynnAlso please visit me on:nTwitter – https://twitter.com/inkyelbowsnInstagram – https://www.instagram.com/inkygirl/nFacebook – https://www.facebook.com/DebbieOhi/
Frequently asked questions
How many pages is a children’s book?
The answer to this question depends on the type of children’s book. Picture books may have only 10-20 pages, while chapter books can range from 80-200 pages.
What age group is a children’s book aimed at?
Children’s books are typically aimed at children aged 0-12 years old.
Are children’s books educational?
Many children’s books are educational in nature, teaching children about a wide range of topics from basic literacy and numeracy to science and history.
Do children’s books have illustrations?
Many children’s books include illustrations to help bring the story to life. Picture books may have illustrations on every page, while chapter books may have a few illustrations throughout.
Who writes children’s books?
Children’s books can be written by authors of any age and experience. Many children’s books are written by established authors, while others may be written by first-time authors.