Industry insiders look at the future of grown-up coloring books.
Helping readers deepen their relationship with God while providing a creative outlet, Christian coloring books for grown-ups help technology-bound people slow down. The coloring book craze is largely attributed to Scottish illustrator Johanna Basford, whose Secret Garden, published in 2013, has sold more than 10 million copies. Her second title, Enchanted Forest, hit the shelves in March 2015 and sold out of its 260,000-copy print run within weeks.
Christian publishing houses quickly followed suit, releasing inspirational coloring books. Today, however, the trend appears to be coasting on the downward slope. According to Ken Peckett, executive director of sales for Charisma House, the coloring book trend definitely peaked in late 2016.
“But that doesn’t mean it is the end of coloring books,” he says. “They will continue to be a part of the Christian retailing industry, though not at the levels of 2016.”
Harvest House EVP and Publisher Barb Sherrill agrees: “While there will continue to still be some new releases in the category, neither the number of releases nor the sales volume per title are what they once were.”
Becky Brandvik, senior director of Tyndale Gift & Specialty, believes the sales outlook for Tyndale’s coloring-related products remains strong because “the idea of offline living and unplugging, combined with a desire to infuse meaning and creativity into one’s quiet time with God, remains very appealing to consumers.”
Picturing Heaven, a coloring book devotional from Randy Alcorn, will release this fall from Tyndale. Harvest House has a few new titles in the pipeline, Color God’s Simple Gifts and Color the Praises of God. In the fall they will release 5-Word Prayers Coloring Book.
So, what will the “next big thing” be after the coloring book trend stops? “It’s difficult to say what’s next,” says Brandvik, “but we do believe that products offering an opportunity for visual self-expression while building a connection with God will continue to be an important part of our line.”
“We’ve been experimenting with ‘coloring plus’ ideas: coloring plus a planner, coloring plus a journal, coloring plus DIY crafts, coloring plus other activities,” says Sherrill. “I don’t know if it’s the next big thing, but it does take what consumers enjoy about coloring and use it for other purposes.”