This week, the Wall Street Journal published a story in which they noted that eight out of the top-20 best-selling books on Amazon are currently coloring books.
That got us wondering…what is the deal with this?
We reached out to Vivian Guzman, the managing owner of Zing Books, which currently has the No. 1 best-selling book on Amazon overall, for answers.
When did adult coloring books first start getting popular?
My mother in law, who lives in Europe, sent me an adult coloring book in 2014. The trend had already taken hold in Europe at that time and she thought I'd enjoy it. I remember her telling me about doctors on news shows touting the benefits of coloring books. I went through that book pretty fast and started to look for books here. At that time, we were publishing puzzle books and when I found that I had limited coloring book options, we decided to start publishing our own. All of a sudden, the big publishers started pushing their own coloring books and the trend took off in the US.
What is the biggest difference between an adult coloring book and a children's coloring book?
The biggest difference would be the images. They are more sophisticated and have a lot more detail. Adult coloring books are also higher quality prints and papers, making it easier to try out different mediums. It takes coloring to a whole new level.
Why have they proven so popular?
I think everyone is looking for an outlet or a distraction from their everyday. Coloring books do just that—taking you back to your childhood, a simpler time. Once you start coloring, your mind becomes so engaged, you forget about everything around you. On top of that, you end up with something beautiful even without any prior art experience. Some images in our adult coloring books can take more than an hour to complete. So, you feel a sense of accomplishment and pride when you finish a piece.
It doesn't require much investment and it's portable. You can take it with you to a cafe, when your traveling, or waiting at a doctors office. Social media has played a big role, in that people are able to show off their work. It's not hard to see why it has exploded in popularity.
What is they key to a successful coloring book?
I'm not sure there is a magic recipe for creating a best-selling book and if there was one, I wish I knew it. When we began work on our best seller featuring henna art all I wanted to do was to make something beautiful. Creating something beautiful is usually the first thing we want to accomplish with all our books because no one wants to color unattractive images. I think what set us apart was the theme of the book. I've always loved henna, so much so that I have henna tattoos and that was my main inspiration for this book. There are images in that book that inspire meditation and showcase yoga. Which helps promote the calming effects you hope to gain from coloring.
What would you say to someone who says doing adult coloring books is pretty strange?
I don't think there is anything weird or childish about needing an escape from the stresses of our everyday. It might not be for everyone, but it certainly offers a quick creative and calming outlet. If you haven't tried it, then you won't get it.
What does it say about our society now that people need this kind of escape?
I would say that we all have high expectations to live up to. Whether they are self-imposed or driven by our society, it can be too much. I think sometimes we need to step away from our phones and the Internet to take a break from the constant bombardment of what you should be doing or how you should be living.
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.