The 33 page picture book
No, there are no 33-page picture books. Not yet.
At a recent conference, though, I had a discussion about why picture books are usually 32 pages. One person suggested that some famous picture book author should come out with a 33-page picture book, and then the industry would print it.
Uh, no. It really does have to do with the way paper folds and how much can be printed on existing printing presses.
So, the response was that when picture books go digital it won’t matter. That’s right: online, page counts can be anything you want.
But I argued that the 32-page picture book has developed into a certain literary form, much like the 14 line sonnet form for poetry. Yes, of course, writers of digital picture books can choose to write free verse; but they may also choose to write in the 32-page format.
We don’t know if or when the majority of picture books will change to digital versions. But it’s still worth studying and mastering the 32-page format because it will teach a lot about selecting events and details for a picture book, about language that works in a picture book, about planning for kids to chime in, about making it read-aloud friendly, and much more. The 32-page format won’t be completely abandoned even when (or if) digital picture books become the norm.
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