The coloring books promoted the doll makers’ art and I’d have free copies for them to sell compensating for their lost income. I was wrong. It was a great time as adult coloring book sales have increased 955% on Amazon while we’ve all been home!
The increase in coloring book sales is particularly notable as book sales have plummeted. I had the unfortunate timing to releasing the latest in the San Miguel de Allende Secrets series the week before the virus became local news. In that first week the book, Coming Home – Blooming Here, flew to number one for Mexican History, Travel, Traditions and Short Stories. In the second week, as the virus conquered all, weekly book sales were as scarce as a tourist.
Thinking it was a reflection of the new economic reality I put together a boxed set of all eight books in the series for the at-cost price of two. Surely that would do well and help folks pass the time. It didn’t as foreign tourism was non-existent. No point reading up on a future vacation when you don’t know if they’ll be any future, or vacations.
What was selling, and continues to at around a dozen a week, was the Mexico Maria Doll Coloring Book! I only put the book on Amazon so I could print out copies for the doll sellers, I didn’t think I’d actually sell any!
It was during this process I learned Amazon, for best-selling lists, doesn’t track paper-based books they sell, only on-line versions. I was shocked as I’ve always sold more paperbacks than kindles, not, apparently, that Amazon cares.
I also learned if you don’t spend at least $50 every few months on Amazon you can’t leave a book review. Who knew? Well, a lot of my reviewers learned as folks aren’t spending money on books, or other Amazon items, during the pandemic.
Another surprise I learned with adult coloring books sales is how anxious folks are to place their creations on social media and send me a copy. Since I took the photos for the coloring book images I’ve always seen their to-color images in their Cyndi Lauper-esque true colors. It was fascinating to view the artistic interpretations with color!
It’s not just me that has seen the increased popularity in adult coloring books with new subjects coming out covering such obscure topics as The Golden Girls!
The virus, in coloring terms, is hot now too with coloring books explaining the history, spread and prevention of the virus. The funniest virus themed coloring book has got to be Fuck Off, Coronavirus, I’m Coloring, featuring humorous off-color pandemic-related images and insults.
A free weekly newspaper in Chicago, The Reader, was having a hard time since social distancing shut down so many of Chicago’s bars, nightclubs, concert halls, and restaurants. The Reader lost about 90 percent of its ongoing advertising revenue and distribution points.
Instead of a weekly newspaper, The Reader released an adult coloring book featuring local artists’ take on Chicago’s sites. I was shocked, though, at the $45 dollar asking price, more than five times the average adult coloring book price. I was thrilled to negotiate Amazon down to $7.29 as the lowest at-cost coloring book price they would allow.
Coloring is a simple, repetitive activity that’ll help you disconnect from the never-ending news cycle and maintain a meditative state where you’re not stressing about anything while coloring in an Oz-like horse of a different color!
by Joseph Toone
- TripAdvisor’s top tour guide in San Miguel de Allende with History and Culture Walking Tours and Joseph Toone Tours.
- Amazon’s best selling author of the San Miguel de Allende’s Secrets book series on making your adventures around town unique.
- Creator of the Maria Dolls coloring book helping indigenous doll makers.