紙短情長 In Search of Excellence

...A story of our search for the right paper

自從蔡倫發明了造紙術,紙就成為人類文明發展的重要催化劑。

時至今日,孩子啟蒙認讀,紙,依然是最重要的媒體。

對於「人生最重要的第一套書」的《基礎漢字500》而言,選擇用紙成為了整個設計過程中極為重要的一環。而在這個重要環節之中,卻有一個不為大多數人知曉的細節:從2006年初版至今,課本的用紙已經歷了三次重大的轉變。


When Cai Lun invented the paper making technique, paper became an important catalyst in the development of human civilisation.

To Basic Chinese 500, which is “the Most Important Book to Start Your Literary Life”, paper is an important element in its design process. While important, this has a little known story: the paper used in the books has undergone three major evolutions since its first edition in 2006.

[English version follows Chinese]

用紙的決定因素

思展的宗旨以孩子為先,因此我們在選擇用紙方面有三個基本的原則。

一. 紙張的明亮度

書本印刷用紙來說,主要有光面的粉紙和啞面的書紙兩大類。

從這兩類紙中,我們採選了光面粉紙。原因是幼童保持了人類的天性,偏愛光亮度高的東西。在原始世界,光亮度高的往往代表着水源,幼童的這種偏好來自人類基本求生的本能。

二. 紙張的潔白度

我們力求採用最潔白、最能表現出色彩光澤和對比的紙面處理,讓色彩鮮明、字體顯突,利用孩子對原始色彩對比強烈的偏好,吸引他們的專注。

另一方面,潔白度高的紙張容易造成反光,有時會有礙閱讀,因此我們的課文文字下面加上了一層淡淡的悅目底色。

三. 紙張的厚度

卡紙類的硬板紙作為課本用紙固然不實際;但紙張太薄,孩子因揭頁困難而每每要父母協助、又或者幾頁紙會貼在一起令孩子跳頁的話,會打擊他們的自立性和自信心,減低他們閱讀的興趣。

考慮到幼童的小肌肉和手眼協調發育未成熟,我們經過多番測試和篩選,採用了偏厚的紙。這樣一來,孩子既能自己一頁一頁地揭頁,而較厚的紙亦不容易割到手。

第一次更改用紙

頭兩個版次推出之後,家長反映了:因為紙厚而造成書太重的現象,出現了三個主要的問題:

  1. 孩子拿起來吃力
  2. 遇上家庭外出旅行,要隨身攜帶學習不方便
  3. 海外家長要承擔昂貴的郵費

於是,我們再度搜索尋訪,權衡各方面的要度求,在堅持以上三個原則的大前提下,更改用紙,將書的重量減輕了10%。

第二次更改用紙

這一次的更改用紙卻帶來了意想不到的問題:由於香港等東南亞地區氣候潮濕,新紙印刷的書本出現了擺放久後會出現一頁頁卷曲的現象。

於是,我們再次尋訪優質紙。

...

所幸的是,近年的各方面科技都出現了前所未有的突破,紙張亦不例外。我們的選擇比之前豐富了。

現在的《基礎漢字500》用紙,不僅比初版的用紙輕了近20%,亦不會卷曲。我們也聽到了更多孩子歡欣的朗讀之聲。

思展一貫以孩子為中心,不斷求進創新。

在往後的日子,更會再接再勵、精益求精,持續不斷地為孩子服務。

How we choose the paper for Basic Chinese 500

Sagebooks adopts a child-centred policy. We follow three basic principles when we decide on which paper we use for our books.

I. The luminosity of the paper

In printing books, there are two main types of paper: art paper and book paper.

We had chosen art paper for its high luminosity. It is children’s basic instinct to prefer objects of higher luminosity. This trait is deeply rooted in us since primitive times, when high luminosity often represented a vital source of water. Young children have this instinct for survival.

II. Whiteness of the paper

We have chosen whiter paper over off-white paper. This ensures that colours maintain their high contrast and brightness, and text is displayed clearly. As children are attracted to high contrasting colours, they will be naturally drawn to the books.

Such white paper, however, could sometimes create a reflection that disturbs reading. We have therefore added a subtle tint as the background for text.

III. Weight/Thickness of the paper

Cardboard paper are obviously not suitable for course books. However, thin paper could be difficult for young children to turn the pages one by one. Skipping pages, or relying on parents to turn the pages, can dampen children’s autonomy and confidence which in turn would reduce their interest in reading.

After many test runs and considering the fact that children have yet to develop their coordination and small motor control, we had chosen relatively thicker paper. This, we had hope, would help children to turn the pages themselves, and reduce the chance of children getting paper cuts.

First call for paper change

After the first two editions, we received feedbacks from parents. Thicker paper resulted in heavier books which in turn created three major problems:

  1. Children found it heavy to carry the set
  2. It was difficult to carry along when the family goes on trips
  3. Overseas families had to bear expensive postage

We started a new journey in search for quality paper. We managed to reduce the total weight of the books by 10% while upholding our three basic principles.

A second call for paper change

The paper change had, however, cause an unexpected problem. Hong Kong, together with other southeast Asian regions, has a subtropical climate which has high humidity. The pages of the new paper curled up when the books are left out after a while.

Once again, we set off for another paper hunt.

...

Fortunately, there have been breakthroughs in technology in all fronts in recent years, the paper industry included. Our choice of paper has expanded.

Our present edition of Basic Chinese 500 is almost 20% lighter than the first edition, and the books lie flat. The best part is that we have heard even more stories of how children enjoyed studying with our books.

Sagebooks Hongkong is dedicated to serving children.

We work ceaselessly to develop new courses and advanced educational products, and to bring you better services in the days to come.

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