What Is an Adult Coloring Book?

Introduction

At the time of writing this article (August 2015), a quarter of Amazon’s top twenty best-selling books are coloring in books. So what is an adult coloring book, and how is it that they are currently outselling top fiction authors with new releases such as E.L. James and Paula Hawkins?

Adult coloring books are, very simply, coloring in books for grown ups. Like children’s coloring books, they are full of outline illustrations designed to be filled in with colored pencils, markers, crayons, or whatever other media you wish to use.

What’s in an adult coloring in book?

The main difference between adults’ and kids’ color books is that the grown up versions generally feature less juvenile images and designs. Instead of superheroes, barnyard animals, and television characters, adult coloring in books are more often filled with:

elements of the natural world, such as trees, flowers, leaves, gardens, animals and insects;
geometric designs;
psychedelic patterns;
repetitive ‘wallpaper’ type patterns;
cities and buildings;
anatomical drawings;
goddesses, angels, and mermaids;
mandalas; and
celtic designs.

There are also many ‘theme’ specific books available, featuring diverse subjects such as cars, steampunk designs, and Art Nouveau patterns.

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