Apps are Trying to Cash In on the Adult Coloring Book Fever

People appear to be spending hundreds of dollars on adult coloring apps and fueling America’s continual obsession with this popular form of art therapy.
Adult coloring books have recently become a new fad known for its therapeutic and stress relieving effects. They have grown so popular in fact that the U.S. print and publishing industry experienced a boom last year as sales of coloring books skyrocketed.
According to South China Morning Post, sales of coloring books jumped from one million in 2014 to 12 million units in 2015, a 1,100% increase from the previous year. Experts from The American Art Therapy Association commented on the rising trend in a released statement:
“The American Art Therapy Association supports the use of coloring books for pleasure and self-care, however these uses should not be confused with the delivery of professional art therapy services, during which a client engages with a credentialed art therapist.”
Since we are now in the age of technology, it was only a matter of time that an adult coloring app be introduced to consumers. Ten months after launch, mobile coloring apps Recolor and Colorify already boasted 2.3 million users in the U.S. in March, according to comScore researchers.
Now people are putting stylus to iPad instead of pen to paper. Popular publishing houses are also jumping on the bandwagon and partnering with companies to develop their own coloring apps. Even so, some are reluctant to give up their colored pencils for a digital canvas.
Debra Matsumoto, a spokeswoman for Laurence King Publishing, admits that digital competition will hurt sales. However, she believes that there will still be a big market that “purposely seeks a very non-digital experience.” Laurence King Publishing sold 16 million art-book copies since 2013.
Shelly Durham, who oversees the website Adult Coloring Book Reviews, had a polarizing opinion on digital coloring apps. Durham said:
“Using a colouring app and saying you created art is like putting a TV dinner in the microwave and saying you cooked. They will never be the same.”
However, others believe that harmony can be achieved among the two art coloring mediums. Ilkka Teppo, 40, is the chief executive and founder of Sumoing, the startup behind Recolor that is based in Helsinki, Finland. Teppo said:
“There is a place for physical books. You can much more easily try colour combinations and styles on digital, then when you have more time, you can have the experience on print.”
In April, Recolor had an additional two million users and hosted 30 million coloring sessions. About 3% of users sign up for their subscription, which costs $40 annually.  
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