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Adult Coloring Books: The Boom Continues

10 February 2016

From Shelf Awareness:

The theme last night of the Book Industry Guild of New York’s panel Color My World: An Exploration of Adult Coloring Books was gratitude–gratitude that the adult coloring book boom has grown so large and is continuing, with huge benefits for the entire book industry. Color us happy, panelists said in so many words.

First, the numbers: panel moderator Jim Milliot, editorial director ofPublishers Weekly, noted that through November last year, the top 10 coloring books sold 1.5 million copies, as reported by BookScan, which doesn’t fully cover the traditional book retailing market and doesn’t include the many non-traditional retailers that sell coloring books, such as Michael’s. “There’s no doubt those number are much, much higher,” he said.

Jennifer Feldman, publisher of Dover Publications, said that since the 2012 launch of Dover’s Creative Haven brand, which specializes in adult coloring books, the company has sold more than 11 million coloring books.

Ed Spade, senior account manager, content acquisition, of the Ingram Content Group, estimated that last year the company printed between 250,000 and 500,000 coloring books, which he called “a pretty stunning figure.”

. . . .

The panelists said they believe that the adult coloring book boom, which began in earnest a year ago, should continue for some time. Already there are a range of what Feldman called “spinoffs,” particularly color by number and connect the dot books. “Adults who color want something new all the time,” she said. “So we’ve tried to come up with all kinds of new things.” She held up a copy of Midnight Forest by Lindsey Boylan, an October 2015 title with designs on a striking black background instead of a mostly blank terrain–a twist that has found an enthusiastic audience. She added: “I don’t think this is a flash-in-the-pan craze.”

Link to the rest at Shelf Awareness

Books in General

31 Comments to “Adult Coloring Books: The Boom Continues”

  1. Not gonna lie, a part of me cringes at the way this trend seems to coddle and infantilize millennial kids who already have issues with maturity and growing up.

    • And does the same for the publishing industry?

    • I know lots of adults of generations other than the Millenial one who like to color. A lot of people enjoy creativity but perhaps don’t have the talent to line draw themselves.

      How is it different from say, the needlework that I enjoy or the computer gaming my husband enjoys? Everyone needs a hobby. In fact, in my opinion, everyone needs several hobbies. 🙂

  2. Next up, Adult board books. Soon to be followed by adult fabric applique books. Heck, the growth market segment is books that someone else reads to you.

  3. I have to say, I get it. The way I get broccoli. It’s supposed to be good for you. A lot of people like it. There are even whole books written about broccoli.

    I hate broccoli.

    Like Joe V. I’d rather offer our young the whole color spectrum of nutritious-delicious inreading/doing, ‘especially’ ‘make your own’ amazing neverbefore seen, whatever.

    I looked at the gauntlet of coloring books at the bookstore/grocerystore/ hobbystore/ walgreens/ post office ok ok, not the postoffice… and what most look like are people who like to doodle and draw, using photoshop or picmonkey or even a kid’s free app to turn everything into black and white lines, and boom there’s a sudden coloring book. Like bazillion of them. I mean seriously, it’s like cookbook category– thousands and thousands and thousands of cookbooks to choose from.

    I didnt mention people selling on AMZ and in stores, utter c for colored pencils instead of quality that can layer, blend, lift up with kneaded eraser, dont have grit in the material that skips, etc. I tried out a set touted on amaz, [no, I dont color… well, only when someone says something nice about me] 72 pencils for however much money. Utter C. Utter. Sent back. Reminds me of the new joke among the country people: did you hear about the tinhorn who brought a sharpie to the branding? [Er, sharpies are an art form now, free form on trucks, boards, etc, of the young.] Not sure, maybe you have to be ‘born in boots’ for that to seem funny. lol. It just means wrong tool for the job.

  4. She added: “I don’t think this is a flash-in-the-pan craze.”

    Funny, I was just thinking the exact opposite as I read this. All it takes is a short dip in sales and the publishers will abandon this like an ally with no oil reserves.
    A year from now, annual reports will cite the lack of sales in adult coloring books as part of the reason they failed to meet targets.
    Unless, of course, 50 Shades of Crayola manages to launch the adult soft-core coloring craze…

  5. See, all of that misses the point. Since when is a coloring book a “real book” ? There are no words. There is no story. What these people are saying, in so much as, is “hey, we’re selling *something* printed on paper.”

    It’s a real sign of desperation that these are being considered in book sales at all. Coloring books belong in the aisles that stock lego kits and blank journals. Counting them as book sales is BS.

    • This. A couple of years ago, these same people would have been dismissing coloring books as “not literature” and “not contributing to the Culture.” Now they’re falling all over themselves to praise coloring books as the savior of the industry, simply because they’re printed in ink on dead trees.

      Can writing a coloring book qualify its creator for membership in the Authors Guild? No? Then how can one consider them “real” books? (said with a sniff, nose elevated, monocle in place) 😉

  6. I totally get that coloring books aren’t novels, but can we not dis them? Lots of people have hobbies that look “infantile” because they’re essentially play. There’s nothing wrong with playing as long as you discharge your responsibilities first.

    Some people play with model trains. Other people garden. Some folks collect stamps. And some people like to color. Mocking other people’s hobbies is far more puerile than deciding you want to use colored pencils on a mandala as a way to relax after a long day.

    • It wouldn’t bother me so much if there weren’t so many other ways that people of my generation are acting like whiny, spoiled children (safe spaces, student protests, crybullies, etc).

      • I won’t argue that. But as an artist, I find it offensive to suggest that visual art is somehow less valuable than other art forms. I know we’re all writers here, but some love for our peers in other disciplines would be classy.

        (And before anyone says ‘but these people aren’t being serious artists’… how many writers now making their grocery money on Amazon right now with indie publishing were once people who did the equivalent of writerly ‘doodling’ and discovered how much they loved it that way?)

        • *raises hand*

          And sometimes doodling maps helps keep everything straight when you’re writing a sword-and-sorcery novel. There’s some very cool shading markers I want to use to color in my doodle maps, too. 🙂

          • I haven’t gotten as far as mapmaking. I lament letting my drawing skills atrophy. I managed to wrangle Photoshop once to design a particular room based on the zodiac, but I can’t do much more than that.

            As a gamer, I completely understand where MCA is coming from. It amuses me when people who get upset about men wearing the wrong shirts defeating the men who are wearing the approved shirts … yet they think gamers and sci-fi fans are weirdos who live in our parents’ basements.

            I initially heard of adult coloring books in the context Joe mentioned, but since a lot of people at this site mentioned doing or making them I filed it away as “Just One Of Those Things People Do But I Don’t And It’s All Good.”

        • just a note to add to MCA Hogarth…

          if you want good colored pencils that are brilliant in color, not weird with grit, saturate well, lightfast for most, able to be blended , think of Prismacolor Premiere or Prismacolor plain. There are also some fabulous inks in sakura. Look at Berol. If you like markers in monochrome, look at Pitt in browns and grays and black. Back to pencils, Derwent can be good,
          also Faber Castell [sp]. I dont color, but do draw and paint, and those above are time tested and preferred. Also, color range in Prismacolor etc, are broad. Some artists swear by Crayola colored pencils but only the kind that have the color name in three languages stamped on the barrel. You can also use pastel pencils,watercolor pencils, oil pastels for a rougher look than crayons. Can also use alcohol inks although read labels forlightfastness.

          • Prismacolor pencils are great, and they will literally last you forever. I still have a huge set of 120 that I have owned for 25 years. Some commonly used colors (black, white, a couple shades of brown, etc.) I have replaced the individual pencils, but overall the set has been wonderful.

            Derwent makes a nice little set of metallic pencils. I was given those for Christmas and have enjoyed them as well.

          • I used to finish all my color work in color pencil back in high school and college, USAF, and I did them all in Prismacolors. (Here’s a 20-year-old example! http://mcah.deviantart.com/art/The-Huntress-Engaged-6711980).

            Unfortunately I had to give up using colored pencils because it was too much strain on my wrists. I switched over to gouache and do almost all my work that way now. I love painting, but I do miss working seriously in color pencil. Right now the only time I use them is (wait for it) to color in coloring books with my daughter. We share my box of Prismacolors, most of which are now so old they no longer have the same names as the modern versions. 🙂

            • I dig guache, esp the a little pricier kind as the opaque quality sometimes has uneven sheen or matte in the cheaper ones. It’s a great medium.

      • My dad is a retired Paramedic and Maine Guide. He also likes Zendoodles because he finds it a nice way to pass a bit of time with a dog at his feet and some Scotch at his elbow.

        So mellow out a bit, maybe? Not everyone who buys these falls into your supposed demographics.

      • How is your judgmental, mean spirited response NOT whiny and spoiled? Since when are you the maturity police? I guess real adults drink and watch porn for fun. Because god knows coloring is a sign of an healthy mental defect. Wait… real adults sit in front of a fire with a hot mug of cocoa and a tome of Tolstoy, immersing their minds in edifying literature. The children are playing quietly on the rug, ribbons in their hair while the little woman stirs a pot of soup…

    • Thank you, M.C.A. I agree with everything you said.

  7. Anyone remember Paint By Numbers?

    • Yeah, the only thing that allowed me to paint something that other people could recognize. 🙂

      I have no drawing talent whatsoever, and no desire to color, either. But I have friends in their 40s and 50s who love this new craze, and I say good for them.

      I’m not really interested in mocking someone for their taste in recreational activities. I grew up being mocked for reading SF and fantasy. It never ceases to amaze me how quick people are to put down something you love because they don’t care for it.

  8. Martin L. Shoemaker

    In the 70s, there was a craze: Doodle Art (plus its imitators). Giant, elaborate posters that you colored with felt-tip markers.

    It was fun. Then it got boring. Then it passed. This modern incarnation of the fad will, too. Nothing wrong with fun fads, but the more people who jump on the bandwagon, the faster it will fade.

  9. I plan on doing some coloring books. I love them!! I don’t care if authors look down on me. I write books as well but why can’t I do both writing and art and make money off of it? I see nothing wrong with it. I agree with M.C.A. We each have our own thing. Just because it’s been made fun of, is no need to tear down artists who do them. As for a fad? Coloring books for adults has been around for quite awhile.

    • I write books (novels/picture books), for adults and children alike, and now I’ve added adult coloring books to the list of books I’ve published. All the books I’ve created have taken time, skill and hard work. The adult coloring books are also a blast to create. And speaking as someone who has worked in the printing industry many years ago, I’m glad to see some revival there. I’m not sure the coloring books will fade any time soon. Many people not only find comfort and relaxation in coloring, but also a sense of pride in “finishing” a piece of artwork with color. Some colorists are incredibly skilled. I’m amazed to see what they do with my artwork. I think it’s been a good thing all around. Not only is this a great time to be a writer, but also an artist and designer too. Indie publishing includes everyone.

      • N., out of curiousity, how are you printing your coloring books?

        To me, a big (huge) part of a coloring book is the paper type, because the tooth changes how the color takes to the page. I wouldn’t think that Createspace, for example, prints on the right kinds of paper.

      • N. how do you choose decent paper for your coloring books? Are you pubbing POD? Or?

  10. People want to color, let ’em color. Jeez

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