Investigating colouring books for grownups

If you haven’t already seen them front-and-centre in your local bookstore or noticed them on the front page of your favourite online bookseller: colouring books for grownups are having a moment. In Toronto, adults are drinking and colouring at the Gladstone Hotel, and bookstores in Guelph are struggling to keep up with demand. Week after week, we’re seeing them pop up on the bestseller reports generated in BNC SalesData.

The New Yorker has a fascinating, thorough piece on the subject here, which traces the beginning of the phenomenon to the publication of Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden. But wherever or however it began, adult colouring books are everywhere now and unlikely to disappear anytime soon. (See: George R.R. Martin’s Official A Game of Thrones Colouring Book coming this fall.)

Who could have predicted that adults would take so enthusiastically to these intricate, sophisticated drawings? The adult colouring book is a bit of an amorphous objet-mystère, evidenced by the fact that almost every publisher who has one in the market has categorized it under a different subject: art, games & activities, juvenile non-fiction, or self-improvement. Anecdotally, we’ve heard of varying uses for the books, with some seeing colouring books as a creative outlet, others as therapy or as a social lubricant, and even those who have simply bought them for children.

We at BookNet have found ourselves curious about the whole topic. Who’s buying them, and why? Since you know we love ourselves some data, we thought we’d take the issue to a super quick, informal poll. And if you’ve got some of your own theories or stories to share, please leave a comment!

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