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Whether you are creating a dummy, just got an assignment or are a writer testing out your page breaks, it's a good idea to be familiar with how picture books are structured and layed out.
Now, most of you know that a standard book is 32 pages in length. But not all of the pages are for your artwork. Generally only 24-30 are images with the remaining pages being used for end papers, dedication pages, the half title page, title page or copyright page. The placement of the extra pages can vary from book to book depending on the art direction and how the illustrator may want to integrate them into their design.
In a 32-page picture book, you don’t actually have 32 pages for your story. You only have 24-30 pages since 8 are used for the book ends, copyright and title. 24 pages translates to 12 spreads (an illustration that spans the two opened pages in a book).
There are two different types of format layouts for a picture book; separate ended (colored ends) or self-ended.
Over on Editorial Anonymous they posted a great way to immediately know the difference between the two. As well as a very informative explanation of how and why publishers have come to use these formats. (Definitely worth checking out!)
Go to your bookshelf. Grab a few picture books. Open one to the first page and grab the first two pages you can hold between your fingers.
Are the two pages made of two different kinds of paper? You're holding a separate ended book.
Are the two pages made of the same kind of paper? You're holding a self ended book.
I did the experiment and came away with two books.
Pingo, written by Brandon Mull and Illustrated by Brandon Dorman is a separate ended book.
The Best Birthday Party Ever written by Jennifer Larue Huget and Illustrated by LeUyen Pham is a self ended book.
A separate ended book has what we call end papers.
End papers are the colored papers that are inserted between the front and back cover and the book block. Thus the other known name for the format of colored ends.
The book block is the portion of the book made up by the half title, title, dedication, copyright and illustrated spreads of the book.
In the separate ended format you have 32 pages and get 14 spreads and two single page illustrations. Making for a total of 15 spreads for story. This format allows for an additional 2 1/2 pages for the book block.
A self ended book has no end papers.
The book block is attached directly to the cover rather than the end papers. This limits the usability of the first page or so of the book block since librarians use these pages to place information, scanning stickers and whatnot.
In the self ended format you still have 32 pages but only around24 are for story, which means a total of 12 spreads available to the artist. However you can see that artists like LeuYen use these pages to start the story early!