Sourcebooks Strikes Gold with Personalized Adult Coloring Books

Put Me in the Story, sourcebooks, adult coloring books, personalized booksIn recent years, Put Me in the Story, the line of personalized books for children, has been a huge hit for its publisher, Sourcebooks. What’s more, this trend has coincided with the surge in popularity of adult coloring books.

To that end, since the beginning of 2016, personalized adult coloring books have been responsible for a whopping 40 percent of Sourcebooks’s Put Me in the Story sales.

The two books the publisher currently has out, Keep Calm and Color On: For Stress Relief and Keep Calm and Color On: For Your Inner Creative, were released in the fall of 2015 and quickly gained attention from television shows, including “The View,” “Good Morning America” and “The Today Show.” Customers also responded positively, gifting the books to friends and family interested in creative ways to relax and de-stress.

For the team behind the 29-year-old Sourcebooks, this success has been a bit of a surprise. After all, it was one of Sourcebooks’s many experiments which, according to CEO Dominique Raccah, have an 80-percent overall failure rate. But several members of the Sourcebooks team had a genuine interest in adult coloring books and, for them, the project seemed like a fun one to take on.

“We thought people would really like them [adult coloring books] because they were something we wanted ourselves,” says Becca Smith, a publicity and marketing specialist at Sourcebooks. “We had a group of people in house who loved to color and bought coloring books.”

Another factor that pushed the team to pursue adult coloring books was the fact that they were gaining popularity. But personalizing themthat is, making them unique and easy to giftwas the company’s “a-ha” moment.

The idea behind Sourcebooks’s adult coloring books is to let people be part of the creative process. As soon as customers go on the books’ product pages, they’re invited to “build” their book, which involves entering a personal dedication and name that will appear near inspirational quotes throughout the book.

“I think people are looking for an activity that’s creative but where they don’t have to be artistically gifted,” says Sourcebooks Editor Anna Michels. “It’s a great way to spend some time thinking about being creative, and the personalized aspect makes it more of a great gift. It says, ‘Hey! I’m thinking of you. I want you to have some downtime for yourself and here’s a book where you can do that.’”

Michels also believes that, with all the screen time people have on a daily basis, off-screen ways to relax have become more appealing. Raccah agrees, saying that people want to engage in activities in which they can create rather than absorb content.

Both women think this is why trends like Sudoku puzzles and adult coloring books have gained popularity, and Sourcebooks is making the most of it.

“We’re part of this really large coloring book trend that’s going on with respect to the whole book business, and we are benefiting from it,” says Raccah. “Anna Michels has been giving me the coloring book numbers and it’s clear the trend is big.”

Sourcebooks is currently working on a third personalized adult coloring book for Put Me in the Story called Color Your Dreams. They’re also working with other publishers to offer personalization services for their adult coloring books.

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Kristine Hoang

About Kristine Hoang

Kristine Hoang served as clubs editor at OC Weekly, an alternative weekly newspaper based in Orange County, California. In addition to OC Weekly, her work has been published in NBC Asian America, The Hechinger Report and Zocalo Public Square. Kristine holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of California, Irvine, and received journalism training at Reporter Corps, a program hosted by Alhambra Source and sponsored by USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. She lives and works in New York City. You can follow her on Twitter at @initialskh.

One thought on “Sourcebooks Strikes Gold with Personalized Adult Coloring Books

  1. Michael W. Perry

    Cultural historians take note. This is not just coloring books for adults, as fraught with significance as that might be. These are *personalized* coloring books for adults. In them, Little Bunny Foo Foo bopping field mice on the head morphs into Jonathan Smart, corporate CEO, smashing competitors.

    I assume the good fairy of the tale is a federal agency like the FTC.

    Sadly, I can remember when adults took pride in behaving grown up and responsible, however dull that might seem. Now, that’s no longer true, as evidenced by our high divorce rates. And far from responding by growing up quickly to compensate, many of today’s young are remaining even more immature. In college they want \safe spaces\ and \trigger warnings\ more suitable for kindergarten.

    Yes, cultural historians can find in these personalized coloring books for adults a near-perfect illustration of a society in which fewer adults grow up and one in which kids are left bearing the harm that results.

    Ah, but as writers and publishers, we don’t have to participate in this rush to a perpetual crib. We can be like St. Augustine who, even as the Visigoths sacked Rome, continued to write some of the most enduring works of Western civilization.

    We can fight against the darkness—or in this case the juvenility—around us.



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