You don’t need to speak Portuguese to enjoy the bestsellers in Brazil’s bookstores.
Coloring books have taken the Latin American country by storm—and we’re not talking about the children’s variety. In April, two adult coloring books were the bestselling books in the whole country with 232,000 copies sold at the nation’s top 12 bookstores. By comparison, the 18 next bestselling books combined sold just 8,000 more copies during the same time period, according to the website Publishing Perspectives, which tracks book sales.
And that was only the beginning.
By May, nine of the top 20 bestsellers were coloring books in Brazil, including the top eight books in the nonfiction category. Between April 20th and May 17th, coloring books accounted for over 17% of all book sales, and almost 15% of industry revenue.
The extra boost provided by coloring books helped lead to a 21% increase in book sales from 2014 during that time period, or around 20 million reais ($6.2 million)
The sales bonanza has had a knock-on effect for other industries, namely that of the coloring book’s partner in crime, the colored pencil. According to Publishing Perspectives, stationery manufacturer Faber-Castell reported that sales of colored pencils were five times greater this April than a year earlier.
The surging popularity of coloring books in Brazil is not an isolated incident. In fact, adult coloring books have become increasingly popular around the world. Sparked largely by the success of illustrator Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden, the books have made the bestsellers list in England and inspired numerous Facebook pages for amateur colorers.
In Brazil, coloring has become so popular that Maite Machado, a Brazilian coloring enthusiast, reported seeing people fighting over limited colored pencils on a store shelf.
The irony of the scene was not lost on Machado—for many, coloring is seen as a therapeutic hobby that helps promote mindfulness and relaxation.
“It’s weird,” Machado told CCTV. “People buy coloring books to fight stress and then end up fighting for colored pencils.”