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Coloring books for adults

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Secret Garden, btw, has already sold 1.4 million copies. It’s a brilliant publishing setup: there’s no language barrier and people actually spread the word about the book because they want to show off their coloring. Johanna has a website with her own work and a coloring galley of pages submitted from readers. She also has an instagram where she shows her work:

The cynical among us might scoff, but the NYTimes ran a little profile of Basford a few days ago that pointed out that even she and her publisher were surprised by the sales:

Surging demand caught Ms. Basford and her publisher off guard. Fan mail poured in from busy professionals and parents who confided to Ms. Basford that they found coloring in her books relaxing. More accolades flowed on social media, as people posted images from their coloring books.

Hard-core fans often buy several copies of her books at a time, to experiment with different color combinations. Others have turned it into a social activity. Rebekah Jean Duthie, who lives in Queensland, Australia, and works for the Australian Red Cross, says she regularly gathers with friends for “coloring circles” at cafes and in one another’s homes.

It’s not as though there’s no precedent for this kind of book. Ed Emberley put out his first how-to-draw book almost as a joke, to fill time in between his “real” books, and of course, they have sold millions of copies. Last I checked, Keri Smith’s Wreck This Journal had something like half a million copies in print. The difference, of course, is that these are explicitly aimed at adults, or, at least, all-ages.

Kottke joked of the sales, “What This Says™ about contemporary culture is left as an exercise to the reader.”

What it says to me is something I’ve said before: helping other feel people creative can be way more lucrative than actually being creative.

As for me, I’m all-in on the joy of coloring. Heck, Lynda Barry opens each of her courses with a 3-page coloring assignment:

This is for my wife (@wolverette)

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Jakub Rozalski

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