Book publishers to roll out age guidance motifs despite protests

UK publishers claim that a controversial new age guidance motif to be introduced on children’s books this autumn will not interfere with jacket design.

The motif is to appear on the back of books published by Random House (pictured), Hachette, Scholastic, Penguin Books and Harper Collins. In-house designers will implement guidelines created by Random House and agreed by the other publishing houses.

The 8mm x 8mm black-and-white marque incorporates a number and a plus sign in B Helvetica Bold. Penguin is applying the motif across all of its children’s imprints including Puffin and Ladybird.

Puffin art director Ann Billson says, ‘We already have various items that we need to include, and one extra item will not affect [the] design.’

But the age guidance measure has been condemned on a new website,, set up by disgruntled authors, for ‘turning readers away at the door’.

‘Everything about a book is already rich with clues [to] the sort of reader it hopes to find,’ says the site. ‘An age guidance figure is a false one, because it implies that all children of that age are the same.’

Penguin claims ‘nothing is set in stone’, and is consulting authors on implementation.  it is considering placing the logo inside the barcode.

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