Friday, March 03, 2017

Staying within the lines; the triumph of adult colouring books

Pieta Wooley, a writer from Powell River, B.C., has written an entertaining and thought-provoking column in the UC Observer about how adult colouring books have been crowding out magazines and soaking up the attention of previously engaged citizens.
"Sharpen your pencil crayons. Cuddle up with a mug of chamomile and the Harry Potter: Magical Creatures Coloring Book, and let the horrors of Aleppo, the fear of Trump and the drudgery of your day job evaporate under its spell. Be mindful. Be tranquil. Transform that line-drawn hippogriff into a magenta hippogriff. Or teal. Your choice. 
"Relegated to a single three-tier shelf at Shoppers are the serious magazines. The Walrus, MoneySense, The Economist, The Atlantic. An island of deep analysis and first-rate reporting in a sea of black-and-white butterflies and spiritual-but-not-religious doggerel."
Referring to data gathered by the Coast to Coast Newsstand Partnership, she notes that  
"From 2012 to 2015, the newsstand sales of adult colouring books in Canada increased by almost 6,600 percent. That’s according to Coast to Coast Boxscore, a set of statistics kept by the country’s largest magazine distributor. Sales of current affairs magazines, on the other hand, are down by a fifth in just three years. Every other category is also flagging: fitness by 40 percent, women’s lifestyle by 25 percent, home decor by 12 percent. Even celebrity magazines are down by 20 percent. 
"In other words, it seems at first glance as though masses of our otherwise-bright contemporaries are opting out of spending their leisure time reading about Arctic ice or Bashar al-Assad or the Trans-Pacific Partnership, in favour of applying bright ink to bleached pulp."

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unhelpful innumeracy alert: "From 2012 to 2015, the newsstand sales of adult colouring books in Canada increased by almost 6,600 percent. That’s according to Coast to Coast Boxscore, a set of statistics kept by the country’s largest magazine distributor."

Since, according to CNN in early 2016, "the first commercially successful adult coloring books were published in 2012 and 2013". That is, the trendline cited here starts from practically zero so an increase of 6600% could mean that there were 2 copies sold in 2012, and 134 copies sold in 2015. Or that there were 500 copies sold in 2012, and 33,500 copies sold in 2015. Or ... you get the idea.

How is anyone supposed to intelligently relate those % increases in ACB sales to the stated 12-40% decreases in sales for other retail categories, for which one might at least have a mental image of their sales volumes. A 50,000-copy increase in one category, such as adult colouring books, might have no significant bearing on a 2,000,000 decline in copies sold annually across several other periodical categories. Or indeed, it could dwarf it, if there are 5 million adult colouring books being sold each year. Not to dispute that ACB's are A Thing (I have one myself), but why does Ms Wooley (or Coast To Coast) cite utterly meaningless statistics?

12:48 pm  

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