Walk into a bookstore these days, and youâ€™ll likely see an enormous stack of them: adult coloring books. Sales of the books have skyrocketed in the last couple of years, but their success might hide some depressing news for the publishing industry.
Quartz has a really intriguing look at the sudden spike in interest in the last couple of years, and the growth is explosive, jumping from a million books in 2014 to 12 million in 2015.
The sudden growth in interest is good for bookstores – in the short run. Fortune reported that sales of physical books rose 2% in 2015, helped mainly by the surge. In the longer run, itâ€™s worrisome, because once interest in the books levels off, that sales boost will vanish.
If it wasnâ€™t for coloring books, in fact, the printed-book business would likely look substantially weaker than it does. According to a recent ranking at Amazon, five out of the top 10 best-selling books in the United States were adult coloring books.
What does this mean in the long run? Publishing is still struggling: the growth in coloring books makes up for the decline in sales for print books, and that gap is likely going to continue to grow.