Here’s why adults are suddenly obsessed with these colouring-in books

Photo: Anjee Hopton.

Adult colouring-in books are a thing right now.

In fact, in April the two best-selling books on Amazon were adult colouring-in books.

Now the trend has hit Australia, and business is booming.

According to John Purcell, the head of product and chief buyer for Booktopia, one of Australia’s largest online bookstores, sales began to rocket after the trend kicked off in Australia in March.

“Because we stock hundreds of adult colouring books we are selling tens of thousands a month now,” Purcell said.

“Sales last year were non-existent. So, insert a really, really big percentage increase here ….%.”

Photo: Hannah Littler.

Purcell said all publishers, large and small, are now making adult colouring-in books.

“Even publishers who would never have thought to publish the like before are sending books to print,” he said.

While it might be a fad, Purcell expects it to be “a long lived one”.

“I can’t see it going away quickly. We will get to Christmas and then the summer holidays before things start to settle down. In France, where the craze originated, adult colouring went on for three years. So we could still be talking about colouring-in books in 2018!”

He also pointed out that customers continue to hear about the benefits of adult colouring-in books, such as relaxation and meditation, and are tempted to buy one to see if it really works.

Science says

Business Insider reached out to Joel Pearson, senior lecturer at UNSW in the school of psychology, to see if there were in fact scientific benefits of using colouring-in books.

Pearson said the books would offer users a source of stress relief, in the same way the patients with anxiety or PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) use “Tetris” to distract the brain, and provide a sense of calm and clarity.

He said during studies psychologists have found that when watching a scary or traumatic scene, if a person plays “Tetris” immediately after, the flashbacks of the event are fewer and less dramatic if they were to not do anything at all.

“The idea is that when you watch something traumatic the memory goes through a consolidation period (the process in which it becomes a permanent memory) and because your brain is focusing on the ‘Tetris’ shapes, instead of the event, you stop the consolidation process, and stop bad memories from turning into flashbacks,” he said.

“Colouring-in books act in a similar way, as does clay or plasticine.

“When colouring you have a defined task which is challenging enough but not enough that it become problematic… It’s repetitive but you don’t become bored.”

Pearson suggested that the science behind this comes down to “visual-spatial” part of the brain which is used when colouring-in.

Visual spatial attention is a form of visual attention that involves directing attention to a location in space.

“When colouring-in you look at the colours and spaces,” says Pearson, “occupying those parts of your brain that might normally be involved in anxiety”.

Pearson said the patterns and shapes present in these specific books also plays an important part.

Photo: Kayla Williams.

“There seems to be a greater drop in self reported anxiety for colouring-in mandalas and patterns compared to just drawing colour on a blank page,” he says.

“(This) suggests that having the outlines is important.”

One of the more popular books being snapped up by Aussies is “Secret Garden” by Johanna Basford, which retails for about $20.

The British illustrator started drawing in 2013 as a way to relax herself. Now, her books are available in 14 different languages across the world, and she hit one million sales in January this year.

“I’m genuinely a bit lost for words and don’t quite know how to convey my sheer delight and excitement,” she said after reaching the milestone.

“My aim was always just to make something that I myself would love to own and hope that some other people would feel the same and buy it.”

She has since released a second book called “Enchanted Forest”.

Here’s a look at some of the creations people are posting:

my fav #secretgarden #johannabasford #colouringin #brilliantcolours #floral #loveit

A photo posted by Jessica Mariee Wilson (@jessmariee0) on

Productive wee day #colouringin #happiness #cabinfever #staybetweenthelines

A photo posted by Hannah Raine (@hannahraine23) on