Coloring Books Top Amazon’s Bestseller List

Coloring books for adults.

I’ve read plenty about these over the last few weeks and I still have no idea why this is happening. The two that are selling like crazy are Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest. Both of which are illustrated by Johanna Basford.

I just read an article about these books that said because of eReaders people no longer try to hide what they’re reading, so they’re more comfortable just buying whatever they feel like buying. And also that coloring is relaxing and the person gets to just chill out.

But really, is reading such a complex task that it doesn’t meet that same criteria? Sure there are plenty of titles that really make you think about everything going on, but it’s not like every book one reads is overly difficult to comprehend. So I am not buying into this whole mellowing out/eReader argument. But I have nothing better to offer. What I can say is that I won’t be buying any coloring books any time soon.

Tell me why you think this is happening. These books are outselling all other books at the moment.

On this day in 2014 I published Series or Standalone: How do you decide?.


58 thoughts on “Coloring Books Top Amazon’s Bestseller List

  1. First off… I hate eReaders. I don’t like reading on a screen. I love the feel of a book in my hands. I enjoy the smell of fresh print. Or old, stale print. Any print. I love my piles of books and poorly arranged shelves housing a million memories. I don’t get the same satisfaction in reading if I’m on an eReader.

    As for the coloring books… they’re at the top of the charts because they’re a bandwagon item. Her five minutes of fame will be up in about…. four minutes, by my watch. I think they’re kind of neat… but I’m also an artist. However, I prefer a blank canvas and paints. I’ve actually been dying to finger paint lately (with acrylics… you know, so I can look like a well-used pallet for several days afterward…)

    Visual art is a different type of mental and emotional stimulation than reading. It’s an active, creative process… more akin to writing. I think the comparison of coloring to reading really misses the mark. I think these books fill a void for people who want to be expressive, but have been told (or who have told themselves) that they aren’t good artists. Personally, I think the better option is to take one of those “paint with wine” classes that are all over Groupon. I’ve done that several times, and it’s good fun!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I can’t reply to this comment without asking if you read my post on smelling books. They don’t even smell like anything. Imagine everyone in the bookstore not reading the books, but smelling them. It’s weird.

      And I think I read that five if the top ten bestselling books in the UK right now are coloring books. I haven’t verified this, but if it’s true I don’t think they’re going anywhere. Not soon.

      And I feel like anyone who wants to express his/herself in an artistic way would do so through a different medium. Like painting or drawing. I just can’t see an artist wanting to color. But I know nothing. I might ask the artists I know.


  2. I wish I could remember where I saw it, but an article popped up recently that made it acceptable for grown ups to color. It mentioned it being a good form of relaxation. SO, my theory is … they’ve been given permission to admit they still enjoy it. Some people are sheep. Those of us who never cared whether or not someone approves of what we like … we colored in our kid’s coloring books occasionally and don’t need to buy the socially acceptable new color book. (I don’t actually know the answer … just my two cents)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve never thought it wasn’t okay to color… I’ve colored in plenty of my children’s coloring books. I also carry an art journal and colored pencils with me half the time. And my notepad, when taken to meetings, is more likely to contain sketches than actual notes. Do people really think it’s not acceptable to color? I saw that same article and was like, dafuq? Really? I obviously live in my own little happy universe where coloring is normal 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hm. I think you’re pretty much in line with the article I read. Because I don’t think people really have an issue with adults coloring, but there’s something going on when these two particular books are outselling everything else. That’s what I don’t get.


  3. Being a serious writer, I really can’t explain it. I feel strangely uncomfortable when facing the fact that they’re even called books. But I respect them and their value to other people.


  4. I personally use “adult” coloring books for meditation as well as to help with my anxiety. I also read & write, so I’m certainly not replacing one for the other. I have also been known to color or doodle while sitting in classes as this tactile action helps me to focus on my professor’s words, rather than staring at him/her & zoning out or taking notes (which just do not work for me).

    That said, coloring books for adults do seem to be a fad at the moment, but I personally enjoy the fad because now there are more options out there for people like me who were already doing this with kids coloring books or just doodling free-hand on a scrap of paper!


      • I have a feeling they will eventually die down. They may sell well to certain consumers, like persons buying them for therapy or adult education setting or something, but I feel the majority of persons will buy them due to hype, color a few pages, & go back to doing other things.


      • Goof point. Buy it. Color a few pages. Get bored. I think you’re probably right. But I also wouldn’t be totally surprised if they stick around for awhile. Just because they’re so popular right now.


      • Oh yeah. They’ll stick around so long that article is being reblogged or they see it on the Bestseller page of Amazon or something. Probably have more than a couple people produce coloring books aimed at adults to try & ride the wave. Then, as everything does, it’ll fade away & the people who did as a fad/trend will find new books to buy, either for reading, writing, or something in between . . .


      • Yes. I only wish people would have stopped buying other books that originally seemed like a fad and became runaway bestsellers. But that hasn’t been the case.


  5. I love colouring. I’m surprised these books are selling better than regular books but I think its a neat idea. Maybe I’ll pick one up. I remember a time in high school me and a friend bought crayons and a colouring book to entertain ourselves during a spare.


    • I don’t think I’ve colored anything since high school. But I have nothing against it. It’s just that SO many people are buying these books right now. That’s what I’m having trouble figuring out.


  6. There is actually research out there (published research) that states that coloring is a good way to lower blood pressure, increase endorphin release, and improve mood. When I worked at that camp for kids with disabilities, we used to call it ‘color therapy.’ When the kids sat down to color, the adults would, too, as a way of relaxing and taking a minute to detox from a crazy day or even crazier kid.
    I love to color, but I don’t do it often. It’s like a treat for me. My minor in college was Community Health and Wellness, and my professor spent a whole class hour discussing mandalas and different types of coloring and art projects that help with stress and quality of life.
    I know it sounds silly, but it’s the truth. Maybe coloring is a fad right now, but if it helps people manage their stress, who cares? Fads fade in time, and I’m sure this one will, too.


  7. Because coloring in and of itself is a meditative activity. I just bought one recently for myself and my girlfriend. It’s great to just not think about anything and color for a while. It also can remind a person of simpler, better times.


  8. I am a closet colourer (is that the right word?). But I have an excuse–my two granddaughters. My brother is an accomplished artist (oil paints) and writer, but I caught him colouring a discarded colouring book belonging to the five year old.
    Maybe these guys are on to something. But I am not yet considering giving up writing for designing colouring books. I would probably suck at it, anyway.


  9. I purchased Secret Garden when it first came out in 2013. It was a random find at Urban Outfitters. I had no intentions of going to that store to buy that particular book, but it was pretty so I got it. Since then I’ve only colored in a few pages but I can understand the enjoyment. The fact that the pictures are so detailed equates to your having to really focus on the page in front of you. I suppose that people who need to get out of their heads for a while would find this extremely therapeutic. It reminds me of Zentangle, although I don’t think that it is the same thing. Zentangle is also an art form that is starting to gain notification although it has been around for a while.


    • Hm. I think another blogger said that she thought people would buy these books, color a few pages, and then leave it alone, regardless of their original reason of buying it. Sounds like that’s exactly what you’ve done.


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