At the time of writing this article (August 2015), a quarter of Amazon’s twenty best-selling books are coloring books. So what is an adult coloring book and how come they currently outsell the best fiction authors with new releases like EL James and Paula Hawkins?
Adult coloring books are, quite simply, adult coloring books. Just like children’s coloring books, they are filled with illustrations designed to be filled in with colored pencils, markers, crayons, or whatever other media you want to use.
What’s in an adult coloring book?
The main difference between adult and children’s color books is that the adult versions generally feature less juvenile images and layouts. Instead of superheroes, barnyard animals, and TV characters, adult coloring books are often filled with:
- elements of the natural world, such as trees, flowers, leaves, gardens, animals, and insects;
- Geometric designs;
- psychedelic patterns;
- repeating ‘wallpaper’-like patterns;
- cities and buildings;
- anatomical drawings;
- goddesses, angels and mermaids;
- mandala; Y
- celtic designs.
There are also many ‘subject’ specific books available, featuring various subjects such as automobiles, steampunk designs, and Art Nouveau patterns.
Why are they so popular?
A Scottish illustrator named Johanna Basford published a coloring book called secret Garden in 2013, with pages of beautifully hand-illustrated ink drawings. The New York Times reported in March that a Korean pop star named Kim Ki-bum posted a photo on Instagram of a “delicately colored floral pattern” of secret Garden. At the time, Ki-bum had 1.8 million followers on Instagram. The post went viral and helped ignite the craze.
According to reports, the rise in popularity of books has a lot to do with adult relaxation and stress release. Many adults who use the books report finding the repetitive, low-stress nature of coloring calming, relaxing, and a way to de-stress away from the pressures of life and work.
Among the other benefits of coloring in adult books, they also claim to enjoy bringing back childhood nostalgia by engaging in an activity usually reserved for children. It takes people back to a simpler time and can also be a way for parents to connect and bond with their children by sitting down to color with them. Of course, many parents have been happily coloring children’s books for years, but now they have options that aren’t limited to Dora the Explorer or SpongeBob SquarePants.
In short, coloring for adults seems to be a growing hobby that allows them to relax and unwind from the stresses in their lives, engaging in a hands-on activity that involves minimal commitment and maximum nostalgia.