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Book Design

Thanks to Janie Oosthuysen for this report on an SCBWI meeting in Cape Town.

Another interesting meeting of the SCBWI took place in the Bellville Library on Thursday 6 March. Beverley (Struik), Michelle (Tafelberg) and Sally (a free-lancer) spoke on book design, a fairly recent phenomenon in South Africa.

Text, illustrations and book design should work together to form a cohesive whole, the design setting off the text and illustrations to advantage. Beverley emphasised the importance of white space, i.e. the thicker the book the larger the margins, 10 – 13 cm all round, and up to 20 cm in the middle to prevent distortion. Smaller point size and bigger lead-in is more legible than the other way around. There is a fine line between what children see as either exciting or babyish, but designers shouldn’t ignore the physical presence of words, as in “the BIG bear”. Much fun can be had with typography as an art form, as well as with deconstructive fonts (Tanya). In general designers should stick to one font and use size, bold, regular and italics for variation. Cover font should tie in with inside font and match both illustrations and text.

Illustrators’ portfolios were also briefly discussed. Michelle emphasised the importance of showing the publisher that you can interpret different texts, and Beverley would like to see various talents displayed, e.g. that the illustrator can do both animals and people.

After a super meal and some discussion we all left, feeling much wiser.

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