Self-governing watch: The meaning of adult coloring books!

FRIDAY, MARCH 18, 2016

Coloring inside the lines:
It isn't polite to criticize people for what they do for relaxation during their spare time.

In our view, it isn't a great idea to criticize regular people at all, as opposed to people in positions of authority or power.

That said, how did we manage to miss the latest major craze? Hard-copy headline included, Sarah Halzack penned this lengthy report in Sunday's Washington Post:
HALZACK (3/13/16): Relaxing outside the box of 64 colors

The amateur artists can be found coloring in airport lounges, doctor's office waiting rooms and while they watch TV shows at home. They are forming coloring meet-up groups at libraries and coffee shops so they can chit-chat as they doodle. Coloring books for adults—a genre once considered little more than a novelty—are suddenly a big business, a bright spot in the financial results of publishers and retailers alike. Nielsen Bookscan estimates that some 12 million were sold in 2015, a dramatic jump from the 1 million sold the previous year.

Whether it is a short-lived fad remains to be seen. The new generation of books are typically filled with intricate black-and-white illustrations that are art themselves. While many find the act of coloring to be a calming distraction from hours spent tapping, swiping and staring at screens, some early adopters aren't exactly hooked. Several reviewers on found the need to stay in the lines to be anything but soothing.

"Most of the pages are full of pictures that are so small I can hardly see the details to color them, which causes more stress than if I hadn't tried to color in the first place," wrote one reviewer of a popular coloring book on Amazon.
"It isn't polite, it isn't polite." That's what we kept telling the analysts.

The truth of it is, it isn't polite, however much the latest craze may seem to capture the society's sad decline.

At one point, the dumbness seemed to be Over There. Now, it's also rampant Over Here, within our own self-impressed tribe.

With our gatekeepers gone, we can do and think whatever we like. The dumbest and the greediest people are filling our heads full of crap.

With the gatekeepers gone, we can do what we like. Apparently, we like to be fed silly partisan crap reinforcing our Hard Tribal Bullroar.

Also, we may like to color! Or so one analyst said.

Great minds thinking alike: Late in her lengthy report, Halzack quoted a publishing exec commenting on the new craze:
HALZACK: It's not clear whether the rise of adult coloring books has come at the expense of sales in other categories, but the impact of the craze can be seen in various corners of the retail industry: Barnes & Noble has said that strong demand for adult coloring books and artist supplies provided a tail wind to the chain's total sales in the last three quarters. Walmart, meanwhile, moved in November to add a dedicated four-foot section for adult coloring books in 2,000 of its stores.


"I've been in this business for 20 years, and I've never seen anything like this," said Kathleen Schmidt, vice president at Running Press, which hurried to publish four adult coloring books last year when it saw the category gathering momentum.
Schmidt, a publishing exec, says she's never seen anything like it!

Full disclosure: We've been in this "business" for 68 years. We had the exact same reaction!


  1. The appeal of many pastimes is not understood by those who do not partake in them. Hobbies like needlepoint that relax the person but involve no creativity or mental effort are very similar to adult coloring books. Hobbies like golf and watching sports are similarly mindless activity, free of creativity or any skill that is any more important to society than coloring well. Libs love to signal their hypocritical and baseless snobbery.

    1. Needlepoint and golf both take skill. Coloring between the lines of a design someone else has created is not comparable. Sewing, knitting require skill and technique, sometimes complicated techniques. Sometimes people do them to relax, but often those people are already very good at what they're doing. Also some people design their own needlepoint, knitting, and sewing projects, which is extremely creative and requires brainpower and skill.

    2. Ok, I'll admit it, I've tried "coloring" with my girlfriend. We bought a mess of fine art colored pencils and a nice book of detailed Moorish inspired prints and patterns. A lot more creativity than one might think, and it's relaxing. Much different than one might remember from childhood.

    3. All the hours viewing TV for relaxation, including mindless fare, and somehow coloring books are an extraordinary waste of time.

    4. Not to mention the hours spent watching MSNBC and reading the New York Times so you can blog about "those damned kids" and how much money they make to an audience that numbers in the dozens.

  2. It's similar to the widespread trend of adults reading YA (young adult) books, which really took off with the Harry Potter series and has only escalated. Many adults just don't want to challenge themselves. You can turn off half your brain to read YA books, and all your brain to color.

    Over at Goodreads, children's coloring books were banned from the database until the adult coloring book craze began, then suddenly all coloring books were legit and in the database. The word must have come down from their overlords at Amazon that the market niche for adult coloring books was too big to ignore.

  3. Perhaps Bob should ask an adult coloring book fan why they prefer such fare to an Einstein Made Easy blog series.

    Unfortuinately Bob only askes why others don't ask people questions. It never occurred to him, or it seems, his readers, that he could try the same thing.


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    Publishers, advertisers and consumers all have skin in the game when it comes to the use and proliferation of ad blockers. Like everyone, I am deeply concerned where the industry is and more importantly, what has to be done to reconnect with disaffected, disgruntled consumers.

  6. "Full disclosure: We've been in this "business" for 68 years. "

    Christ, Bob. Are you really ninety years old?

    1. He just had an extended period where his critics derided him as "youngish."

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  12. Today, it is really pleasurable to be able to deepen into these feelings. Coloring can distract you from your problems for even a couple of hours, which can have an unusually positive effect.
    coloring books for adults