|January 6, 2016|
|Rick's Tips - Electrical safety during maintenance|
· Subscribe to Ahead of the Curve
· Ahead of the Curve archived issues
· Contact the Editor
Hottest Trend in Publishing is Adult Coloring Books
By Susannah Cahalan
Nine of the 20 books on Amazon’s current bestseller list contain few words and belong to a genre that didn’t exist two years ago. Welcome to the biggest publishing craze of the year: coloring books for adults.
More than 2,000 have hit stands since 2013 and the genre’s two biggest bestsellers, “Secret Garden” and “Enchanted Forest,” have sold a combined 13.5 million copies in 50 countries.
Now, each of the top five publishing houses has plans to release coloring books. Though the market seems flooded — much like the vampire trend years ago — it shows no signs of slowing.
There’s “Harry Potter”-, “Game of Thrones”- and “Sherlock”-themed books, as well as nature, dog, elephant, tattoo, even steampunk ones. Come February, you’ll even be able to purchase a “Dr. Who” coloring book.
“Colorists,” as they call themselves, upload their draw-within-the-lines creations to online galleries. Reviews extol the calming virtues of coloring. They consider it creative, stress-relieving and even “art as therapy.” Some liken coloring to yoga or meditation.
“It’s kind of a way of being creative without the stress of too much creativity. You’re not stressing yourself out as much as you would if you were to draw from scratch, but you’re still getting some of the relaxing qualities of creating,” says Peter Gray, professor of psychology at Boston College.
The trend began in 2011 when Scottish freelance illustrator Johanna Basford was approached by small UK publishing house, Lawrence King Publishing. An editor there had stumbled across her work online and thought that her intricate drawings would make the perfect coloring book.
The result was “Secret Garden,” a complex, hand-drawn coloring book initially marketed for older children. But then something funny happened. Adults started buying them.
“We started noticing the Amazon reviews. They all sort of said the same thing: ‘Oh, it was so pretty and I bought it for my niece’s birthday but then I just had to get one for myself,’ ” Lawrence King publicity and marketing manager Debra Matsumoto says.
First the coloring book hit France by storm. “Secret Garden” sold a million copies there before any other country.
Modal Trigger“Secret Garden” has sold 1.5 million copies in the United States.
China followed suit. Four months after publication, “Secret Garden” sold 3 million copies. Brazil, also a big spot for coloring books, sold so many copies that news agencies reported the nation had a shortage of colored pencils.
In the US, “Secret Garden” and its follow-up “Enchanted Forest,” which came out this year, have sold 1.5 million and 1.2 million copies respectively.
Penguin Random House took note and poached Basford, who calls herself the “ink evangelist,” quickly churning out “Lost Ocean” in October, which sold 157,000 copies its first month out, according to Publishers Weekly.
So, how to explain these astounding numbers?
Some believe it’s a reaction to a stressful world and functions as an undemanding hobby, much like knitting or working on a puzzle.
Others see it as an outgrowth of our cultural Peter Pan syndrome that crosses not only into our reading habits — over half of the young-adult books sold are read by adults — but into our everyday lives, like the middle-aged men and women who pay hundreds of dollars to attend “adult pre-school” in Brooklyn.
Perhaps this longing to return to the past is not feeding our inner child but represents a desire to experience the tactile sensation that we are missing in our largely digital world.
“I think it’s nostalgia,” says Seira Wilson, senior books editor at Amazon.com. “It’s a nostalgic feeling for the pace and how we used to be. People miss the experience of pen and paper. It’s nostalgia, but it’s not dumbed-down. Now if you want that feeling, you don’t have to feel like a crazy person coloring a Rudolph coloring book.”
This article appeared on the website of the New York Post on December 13, 2015 (http://nypost.com/2015/12/13/hottest-trend-in-publishing-is-adult-coloring-books/).
Now that you are Ahead of the Curve, stay there by joining TAPPI.