Adult coloring books are selling like crazy. Here’s why

  • 2016-06-29
  • Vox media

The biggest thing in publishing isn’t J.K. Rowling or Stephen King. It’s adult coloring books.

Coloring books for grown-ups first took off at the beginning of 2015, and they show no signs of slowing down. Around 12 million adult coloring books were sold last year, up from about 1 million in 2014. Every Barnes & Noble, Target, and Walmart has a dedicated adult coloring book table; the coloring book craze even drove a 26.4 percent increase in colored pencil sales in 2015. Now Crayola is getting in on the action with Color Escapes, "premium coloring kits specially designed for adults."

Adult coloring books come in three flavors: art, therapy, and novelty.

The undisputed queen of the art coloring books is by Johanna Basford, the Scottish illustrator whom many credit with kick-starting the adult coloring book craze when her Secret Garden coloring book became a surprise runaway best-seller in 2013.