Childrens picture books and picture book design.
A childrens picture book and picture book design in general, uses of large images and limits the text to tell a story. They may print as soft cover or hardcover books. The minimum page count for printing on press is 24 or 32 pages depending on the provider.
We recommend coated paper for a hardcover or soft cover children’s picture books. A dirty fingerprint cannot be wiped off completely, but paper that is coated is better. Uncoated paper will show more grime with usage. However:
POD (print on-demand)
Books that print on-demand are output with toner which sits on top of paper. It may smear when wiped with a moist finger.
Printing on press
Books printed on press, in signatures, use ink which soaks into the paper. It will not smear. Learn more about printing at this page about printing at Star Print Brokers.
Set the text using Adobe InDesign. Although illustrations can adjust in Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop, resist the temptation to set the type. Only use InDesign to set type.
What you need to know …
The best way to layout a childrens picture books is to place the illustrations and then typeset the text to overlay the illustrations. It is easier to control placement of text, margins, type size, and leading for a consistent look on all pages. While this can do this in Illustrator and Photoshop, every page would need to adjust if there are changes. It is easier to make Character and Paragraph Style changes in InDesign.
To illustrate book titles on the cover and spine can cause layout problems on press; that is unless the illustrator follows the cover wrap or dust jacket measurements. The printer will supply that. The solution is to typeset the title or make the illustration title moveable in the document.
Low-res images are a problem. Illustrators that design for the web versus for childrens book printing on press, often supply the author with images that are too low in effective resolution. If the illustrations were original art instead of created digitally, they must be scan again or create a new illustration. Read about resolution in Chapter 1, Planning a Book.
Page numbering in children’s book design depends on page count and age group. Picture books of 24 or 32 pages do not need page numbers. Chapter books should have numbers on pages.
One concern when writing a low page count soft cover book, may be fitting the title on the spine. There must be enough width on a spine for the book to be perfect bound. That is, the spine will be flat instead of just a stapled fold. The jargon is to “stitch” or “saddle stitch.”
The page count needed for a spine to be perfect bound depends on the thickness of the paper and the service provider. Bookstores usually do not want a book without a spine. Get the spine thickness from the provider. Take note of the type size and typeface that you are using on the spine to make sure that it is not too small to read easily.
A book with a hard case is a hardcover book. The material gluing to the outside of the case is called a cover wrap. It is not a loose covering, but glues to the boards. A loose-fitting paper with flaps is a dust jacket.
The material for a cover wrap at POD services is usually either printing a paper cover or the use of a faux cloth cover. However, SPB expands cover wrap material choices to offer a variety of cloth textures and colors. Suede and faux leather are available at an additional cost. Tell us what you want and request a quote.
When hardcover books have a paper cover wrap that is printing, the printer will provide measurements to you. We take this from the book’s dimensions, paper thickness, the number of pages, and the printer.
Self-publishers choose dust jackets about fifty percent of the time. They are optional, loose fitting, and consist of the images and text for the front cover, back cover, spine, and two flaps. The flaps usually have a book summary, and biography with a photograph of the author on the flaps.
The endpapers are the thick papers glued to the inside front cover and inside back cover of a book. At SPB, they can print on press, or not print at all in childrens picture books.
If you are not going to print the endpapers, no file is necessary because the endpapers will be on white, uncoated paper. Let us know if there is a spot ink or CMYK call-out as it is an extra cost to print. We do not need a file for that option, providing that there is no design on the endpapers.