Stressed Out? Forget the Shrink and Grab a Crayon
Life + Money

Stressed Out? Forget the Shrink and Grab a Crayon

Millions of American adults are turning to books from their childhoods to find relief from stress and anxiety. Coloring books to be exact.

Three coloring books targeted at adults are among the top 10 best-selling books on Amazon, including two by Johanna Basford, a British artist. The top three entries on Amazon’s most-wished-for books are also adult coloring books.

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The appeal is simple: Adult coloring book lovers, who tend to be mostly women, like the calming and relaxing effect that coloring within the lines can have when life gets out of control.

One big plus: This type of therapy is a lot more affordable than a visit to the shrink. Most adult coloring books, which are now printed on high-quality glossy paper, cost $10 to $15, and you can buy a box of markers or Crayons for less than $10.

“I think there’s something quite charming and nostalgic about coloring in,” Basford told NPR recently. “And chances are last time you picked up pens or pencils you didn’t have a mortgage or like a really horrible boss or anything.”

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While some coloring books targeted at adults can be gags or X-rated, the most popular ones offer beautiful, mesmerizingly detailed patterns and designs.

It’s not clear how big a market the business of adult coloring books is or could become, but Basford’s Secret Garden has sold more than 1.4 million copies since its release about two years ago, and her second book, Enchanted Forest, sold out within a couple of weeks of its release in mid-February.

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