Once a pastime reserved for squirmy preschoolers, coloring in coloring books is a growing trend among adult women craving a calming activity that’s also creative. Coloring fans have made “Secret Garden,” artist Johanna Basford’s book of intricate black-and-white illustrations, a No. 1 best-seller on Amazon with more than 1 million copies in print. And coloring parties are rapidly replacing book club meetings for people who like to turn pages but are just too busy to make it through the latest page-turner. Tina Ferguson, owner of Face in a Book, accurately predicted the slow-art coloring trend months ago and sponsored a Coloring and Cocktails night at her El Dorado Hills bookstore last spring. A coloring enthusiast herself, Ferguson fills in the blanks on why (colored) pencil pushing is so popular.
How did you know coloring would become a thing?
As a bookstore owner, I meet with booksellers. Almost two years ago, Chronicle Books came out with “Secret Garden.” I bought maybe 10 and sent one to college with my daughter. She said, “Mom, send me more copies for my friends. Everyone wants one.” I just kept reordering and reordering and the book kept selling and selling.
How do adult coloring books differ from children’s coloring books?
They are very sophisticated with very intricate designs. There are a lot of florals. Filled in, they look like Tibetan sand mandalas.
And people fill in these books using Crayolas?
Everybody uses different things. Felt tip markers and colored pencils are most popular. But some people use crayons.
Tell me about Coloring and Cocktails.
It was very, very popular. It was one of the best events we’ve ever had. Standing room only. People were coming in days after saying thank you. Coloring books are fulfilling a need out there for a reason to take things slow.
What’s the appeal of coloring?
It’s an opportunity to slow down from life, get off your computer screen and do something creative. When my kids were younger and we’d go to a restaurant and they’d get a coloring menu, I’d find myself coloring along as well. You don’t have to know how to draw to color. Everyone can color.
Is that the only draw?
There’s nostalgia, too. For a lot of people, coloring harkens back to a simpler time. We have customers who are grandmas and empty nesters enjoying an experience they miss.