I confess to being a bit sniffy about the whole colouring book phenomenon. Probably it can be traced back to a childhood experience when a school ‘friend’ decided my carefully drawn kangaroo would look very much better with a nice containing black line around the edges. Ever since then my spirit has rebelled against limiting lines of any description.
Don’t get me wrong, I used to love drawing and colouring my own creations during art college days. I regret that I don’t make more time for these activities in my life now. Oxytocin is released when we draw and colour in. Oxytocin is the happiness hormone which is produced when we stroke an animal, or hug someone. Colouring is shown to reduce stress, encourage mindfulness and generally help people switch off from from our overly technological world. A drawing class with a teacher is expensive and would perhaps involve a difficult commute, whereas a colouring book and a set of felt pens are easily accessible and within most folks’ budget.
Johanna Basford started the colouring trend in 2011, with her wildly successful, ‘The Secret Garden.’ Basford creates intricate, sophisticated designs which are extremely popular amongst colourists. So much so that demand for her books often outweighs supply. Five colouring books (two were Basford’s) were in the top fifteen best-sellers on Amazon in 2015; so although physical books sales are generally declining, the colouring book’s popularity is making many a publisher rub their hands together in glee. Ironically, given that drawing takes us away from our devices, the trend has been fuelled to a certain degree by social media. Fans post their creations on FB, Pinterest, Instagram and also exchange tips regarding the best pens or swap ideas about colouring techniques.
— Johanna Basford (@johannabasford) February 12, 2016
But this phenomenon is also part of a greater trend amongst adults for childhood experiences. The ‘Peter Pan market’ started in publishing, before colouring books. The growth in sales of children’s and Young Adult books to older readers has been well documented. I guess J K Rowling and Harry Potter got that particular ball rolling. So what do you think? Would you be happy to give colouring a go or do you think it’s all a bit puerile? Are you a closet YA reader; perhaps you have ambitions to write YA, or have you put away all childhood things?