This time last year, when PW looked at the hobbies and crafts space, editors were reluctant to predict what direction the adult coloring book craze could possibly take—beyond continuing unabated. Recent sales bear out their optimism: since January 1, according to Nielsen BookScan, more than a dozen adult-crossover coloring books have logged unit sales in the six figures, among them titles by Johanna Basford and Millie Marotta, as well as Harry Potter–branded books.
The interest in coloring books with straightforward appeal—i.e., those with dreamy, intricate illustrations—continues across various publishers. Penguin is banking on a winning formula with Basford’s forthcoming Magical Jungle (Aug.) and Johanna’s Christmas (Dec.), and, similarly, Lark Crafts will publish Marotta’s Curious Creatures in October.
Chronicle has just published Steve McDonald’s Fantastic Collections, a follow-up to 2015’s Fantastic Cities, which, according to BookScan, has sold more than 99,000 copies since its release. St. Martin’s Griffin will publish Romantic Country: The Second Tale by Japanese artist Eriy, in December; the first Romantic Country title has sold more than 22,000 print units since its May release, per BookScan. Running Press, in May 2017, is offering Draw & Dream by Victoire Bourois and Annie Lim.
Yet editors have found wiggle room within the niche. “The coloring book market is segmenting,” says Amy Pierpont, editor-in-chief at Grand Central Life & Style’s romance imprint Forever. “It’s all about finding your tribe within the coloring book audience. Do romance fans color? Yes, they do.”
Ballantine learned this with The World of Debbie Macomber, which features scenes to color from the bestselling romance author’s novels and has sold 50,000 print units to date. Now, Forever is releasing its first coloring book, Love Between the Lines by Christina Collie (Nov.), which features illustrations inspired by authors including Abbi Glines, Colleen Hoover, S.C. Stephens, and Anna Todd.
Those with other interests can claim coloring books of their own. Storey, already a strong presence in the crafting market, appeals to quilters with its forthcoming spin on the coloring book trend, The Quilt Design Coloring Workbook by Thomas Knauer (Aug.).
In November, Rodale is releasing A Cozy Coloring Cookbook, with illustrations and recipes based on author Adrianna Adarme’s A Cozy Kitchen blog. Adarme, who has 158,000 Instagram followers, worked with illustrator Amber Day when developing recipes in order to incorporate more color and other details. For example, s’mores are made with (green) matcha marshmallows, and sprinkles and other toppings enhance her chocolate waffle tacos.
Cornell Lab Publishing Group is tapping into another pastime—birding—with its first coloring titles, both publishing in September. Birds of Paradise by Edwin Scholes, Tim Laman, and Andrew Leach, produced in collaboration with a National Geographic expedition to New Guinea, documents 39 rare species, while the offerings in America’s Favorite Birds by Miyoko Chu and Brenda Lyons were crowd-sourced from 250,000 birders in four days.
Brian Sockin, the group’s publisher, says of these heavily researched, scientifically accurate titles, “We can’t be everything to everyone, but for 50 million birders in the U.S., these are going to be the definitive coloring books.”
In another example of a publisher joining the trend by playing to its strengths, Rough Guides sourced images from its 200-plus travel guide destinations—examples include the Great Wall of China and Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque—to produce its first coloring book, September’s Color the World.
Out of the Binding
As some coloring book publishers are experimenting thematically, others are delving into formats beyond the simple coloring page. The projects in Color Me Masks by Aimee Zumis (Barron’s, Aug.), for example, press out of the book so colorists can masquerade as butterflies, fairies, animals, and more; elastic headbands are included.
Other formats include posters and stationery. In September, craft publisher C&T is releasing Off the Beaten Path Coloring Postcard Book by Samarra Khaja and The Art of Laurel Burch Coloring Postcard Book by Laurel Burch, each with 20 postcards to color. October brings C&T’s Awesome Town Coloring Poster Book by Melissa Averinos and Bohemian Adventures Coloring Poster Book by Valori Wells; each features eight removable pages that fold out to 19” x 30” and are meant to be used for group projects.
Color-Your-Own Greeting Cards by Caitlin Keegan, due from Storey in August, includes 20 color-and-fold greeting cards with envelopes.
Running Press enters the poster realm in May 2017 with two Posters to Color titles aimed at kids: Rainforest and Safari, ages 6–9. Of course, “aimed at kids” is subjective, especially when it comes to coloring books.
In October, Scholastic is releasing Harry Potter Magical Places & Characters Postcard Coloring Book (ages 8 and up, at least officially); Harry Potter Magical Places & Characters Poster Coloring Book follows in Jan. 2017.
Candlewick, another children’s publisher whose crafty titles have adult appeal, will publish two iterations of The Coloring Book of Cards and Envelopes by Rebecca Jones: Christmas (Oct.), and A Year of Celebrations (Jan. 2017), both with its Nosy Crow imprint.
In looking ahead to 2017 coloring trends, we’ve noticed something else that’s new. Where once “mindfulness” and “relaxation” were the reigning buzzwords used to describe coloring’s appeal, now editors are likely to mention social media. People want to “share virtually” what they’ve created, says Forever’s Pierpont, echoing the remarks of several editors in the craft arena, including those at Atria, Grand Central, Ulysses, and Workman. If they’re right, 2017 may well prove to be the year of the Instagrammed craft project.
Lela Nargi is the author of several books about knitting, as well as articles for Twist Collective, Interweave Knits, and Knitscene.