Is the adult colouring book craze dead?

By Adam Rowe for Forbes

In 2015, adult colouring books became the dark horse of the publishing industry, as a surprising surge in sales boosted major players’ revenues. In 2016, there was no end in sight. In 2017, the bottom fell out of the adult colouring book market and, this year, the trend is officially dead.

So it seems, at least. It’s possible that adults still enjoying colouring as much as ever, but independent publishers — whose sales numbers aren’t reported with the same rigour as those of traditional publishers — have cornered the market. Here’s a dive into the timeline of the adult colouring trend, as told through the cottage industry of articles covering the phenomenon.

A July 2015 New Yorker article described the early stage of the adult colouring renaissance, noting a connection to the popularity of other infantilising activities like adult summer camps and adult preschool. The trend was picking up, even if the numbers hadn’t come out yet: Dover decreed August 2, 2015, as the first National Colouring Book Day, and Bantam Books and George R.R. Martin teamed up on a Game of Thrones-themed colouring book. In December, Business Insider profiled a self-publishing colouring book creator who had earned $329,000 in Amazon royalties in 2015 alone, by selling her books via Createspace — noting that colouring books were at the time holding five out of the top 10 spots on Amazon’s hourly-updated bestsellers list.

The colouring book sales spike continued across 2016, to much media attention as numbers came to light: Nielsen Bookscan estimated 12 million colouring books sold in 2015, up from a paltry one million the year before. The hot takes were entertaining: America’s obsession was a cry for help, while studies showed colouring exercises reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. Retailers doubled down on art supplies and colouring books. The Canadian company Newbourne Media LP released a music CD/colouring book combination product. Adult nonfiction books across the industry sold 12% better in the first half of 2016 than the same period in 2015, and Publishers Weekly credited colouring books.

In 2017 the cracks began to show. Barnes and Nobles’ third-quarter profits, released in March 2017, revealed sales were under expectations, though still strong, and the decline in colouring book (as well as Adele album) sales was responsible for “nearly one-third of the sales decline.” By August, the trend was declared dead.

But did interest in adult colouring books really wane, or was it diverted away from traditional publishers and towards the retailer to rule all retailers, Amazon? The evidence lies in a slide from a 2016 presentation by Author Earnings, one of the more authoritative analysts in the murky world of book data. A chart breaking down online book sales by genre shows that about 60% of crafts/hobbies/games books in 2016 were being sold by non-traditional publishers (indie self-publishers as well as Amazon imprints). That’s a huge percentage, second only to the formidable romance genre, and it indicates that in 2016, the year that Barnes and Noble’s third-quarter colouring book profits began levelling off, most online craft book sales went to Amazon and self-publishers.

In other words, book publishers might have lost their colouring book market share to the same retail giant who endangered their industry in the first place.

Author Earnings hasn’t offered comparable data in 2017 or 2018, and major industry databanks like Bookscan don’t track Amazon’s data, so it’s impossible to say for sure whether the colouring book craze is really over or whether faster-adapting colouring book self-publishers have used Amazon as a channel to scoop up the majority of what was once traditional publishers’ cash cow. But as publishers turn to the digital audiobook as the next popular format (sales are up 32.1% in Q1 2018!), they should be wary of Amazon’s growing interest in audiobooks.

Imagine having an easy, on-the-go journal at your fingertips, filled with interchangeable inserts, and convenient pockets for tucking away all those interesting bits and bobs.

Fill the spacious inserts with words, ideas, pictures and doodles to inspire and remind.

Refill your journal easily with new inserts and take them with you everywhere. Choose from a variety of fabulous covers and colours – there is truly something for everyone.

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By Mindy Weisberger for Live Science

A type of blackboard chalk that was produced for decades by just one factory in Japan was so highly prized by mathematicians they referred to it as “the Rolls-Royce of chalk.”

And when rumors surfaced about the chalk being discontinued, some academics resorted to stockpiling as many boxes as they could get their chalk-covered hands on.

The tale of Fulltouch chalk, manufactured by Hagoromo Stationery in Nagoya, Japan, and thought by many to be the finest chalk in the world, was recently featured in a short video.

Hagoromo made chalk for more than 80 years, and for those who weren’t lucky enough to live in Japan, Fulltouch was always difficult to get. Then, as Hagoromo prepared to shut down in 2015, many dedicated aficionados began grimly preparing for a world without Fulltouch. They bought dozens upon dozens of boxes, some hoarding enough chalk to last through the end of their careers, according to the video.

What is so special about this chalk? Mathematicians in the video described Fulltouch in glowing terms. The chalk is long-lasting, virtually unbreakable, bright and easy to read on a chalkboard, smooth as butter to write with, and practically dustless, Jeremy Kun, a Google engineer with a Ph.D. in mathematics, wrote in a 2015 blog post bidding farewell to Fulltouch.

So renowned is the chalk among mathematics professionals that it is accompanied by its own legend: It is impossible to write a false theorem with it, David Eisenbud, director of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Oakland, California, said in the video.

When the news broke that Fulltouch’s maker was ceasing production and closing its doors, it launched a “chalkapocalypse” among mathematicians, said Brian Conrad, a professor at Stanford University in California. In the video, Conrad and others recounted their responses to the chalk emergency, stocking up on enough to carry them through as much as 15 years in a chalk desert.

However, there is a ray of hope for those who didn’t have the foresight to fill their closets and cupboards with Fulltouch when they had the chance. Hagoromo sold the Fulltouch recipe — and two of the factory’s original chalk-making machines — to the Korean company Sejongmall. The chalk is being manufactured again under its original name, and is available to buy in the U.S. on Amazon.

Why wedding stationery matters

By Jess Young for SWNS

When it comes to planning a wedding, there is a lot to think about and you’d be forgiven for forgetting how important stationery can be. From invitations to menus and everything in between, it can all be a bit overwhelming.

Yet, wedding stationery is a relatively simple, affordable and important way to add style to your big day.

In this post, we will consider where you can make savings, things that can be done at home and the items that are definitely worth spending money on.

Programmes: get a professional to design them
In our opinion, these are an important and worthwhile investment for your big day, and they are something that should definitely be outsourced to a professional designer. It’s a quick and easy way to organise your day, introduce people to the running order and even introduce the key members of the wedding party.

If done correctly, they can provide a beautiful way of telling your story and of ensuring that everyone is on the same page. What’s more, they offer a beautiful keepsake for guests to take home and can help the wedding magic to last that little bit longer.

Menus: can be side-stepped
Yes, it’s nice to have menus on your wedding day, but in the grand scheme of things they really don’t matter. This is one option that could easily be omitted from your ever-growing to do list.

Why not consider putting your menu inside your programme – that way you are killing two birds with one stone.

Escort and place cards: these can be made at home
Escort cards are definitely another optional, but place cards are very important. Unless you’re having a small wedding, place cards are going to save you a lot of hassle on your wedding day. However, they’re not something that are worth spending a fortune on.

In fact, these can both be made at home and even supermarkets sometimes stock pretty and appropriate offerings. If you have pretty or neat handwriting, then use your creative spirit to do them yourself. Alternatively, ask a friend who has beautiful writing. This will save you time, money and make them more personal than any ordered place cards would ever be.

Wedding timelines: optional but cute
This is a relatively new trend in the wedding world but one that we are definitely fans of. There are some really cute examples of wedding timelines online and they’re a fun, time saving and quirky new tradition.

Again, these can be made at home but if you have a theme, we suggest asking your stationer or a graphic designer to create this for you. As it can be a playful way to tie your theme together.

Whilst it might initially feel like a chore, wedding stationery offers a creative and fun way to show the intended character of your wedding. Using these tips, tricks and advice, wedding stationery will be fun and something that all parties can be involved in.

How YouTube is replacing hobbies

By Marchelle Abrahams / Daily Mail for IOL

Are we raising a generation of web addicts? A major new study seems to point in that direction, saying children in the UK have become so addicted to screen time that they are abandoning their hobbies.

It found that under-5s spend an hour and 16 minutes a day online and their screen time rises to four hours and 16 minutes when gaming and TV are included. Youngsters aged from 12 to 15 average nearly three hours a day on the Web – and two more hours watching TV.

The study said YouTube was “a near permanent feature” of many young lives and seven in 10 older children took smartphones to bed. It concluded: “Children were watching people on YouTube pursuing hobbies that they did not do themselves or had recently given up offline.”

Creative parenting expert and author Nikki Bush believes the danger of technology is that it has become a management tool.

Many times parents look to it as as a virtual babysitter, to the detriment of a child’s mental health.

“Your child’s cognitive intelligence is all based on emotional bonding.

“They are growing up in a very hostile world and it’s hostile for a number of reasons,” said the author of bestselling book Tech Savvy Parenting.

What they really need is that feeling of safety and security that comes from belonging and togetherness.

It’s very important for them – it’s like a cushion for a hostile world. And that comes from human interaction, which is very important.”

But as parents spend more time away from their younger ones, many are flocking to YouTube to fill that void. Some youngsters are becoming so obsessed with YouTube celebrities that they idolise them as role models, an Office of Communications report said.

“YouTube was a near permanent feature of many children’s lives, used throughout the day,” researchers in the study said.

Often they come across unsuitable content by accident, when they are searching for something else.

Sometimes they simply seek out material they are too young to view.

They are also led to it by YouTube’s own algorithm which feeds them suggestions based on their tastes.

Children prefer YouTube to old-fashioned television or TV on-demand services because they “could easily access exactly what they wanted to watch and were being served with an endless stream of recommendations tailored exactly to their taste”, the report said.

Many of the parents involved in the research were shocked to learn what their children had been watching.

 

Make school stationery last

Source: Jacaranda FM

It’s back to school which means parents are expected to buy a list of school stationery as long as their arm for their kids.
Stationery can be costly and because of that, it needs to last. These tips below will help you ensure that your child’s school stationery lasts longer and will save you some money.

Buy good quality stationery
Good quality products last longer. Avoid buying things just because they are cheaper. It’s better to invest in quality stationery than finding yourself having to buy more stationery during the year, which might turn out to be costlier.

Remember to compare prices from different stores. You might get good quality products for less by comparing prices.

Organise your stationery
There is nothing worse than coming home to find your child’s stationery scattered all over the floor or in multiple rooms. Not only does this make your house untidy, but it can also result in your child losing some of the stationery. So, teach your children how to organise their stationery and to pack it away tidily.

Make a list
Keeping track of the stationery will ensure that your child doesn’t lose items without realising it. Set aside time for them either daily, or weekly where they check the list and ensure they haven’t lost anything

Ensure your child’s stationery is marked
Children often misplace or get their stationery mixed up. Marking your child’s stationery will ensure that they can easily identify it.

Buy a big enough school bag and space case
If your child’s school bag or space case is too small, they might end up damaging their stationery. Buy a big enough school bag that has the compartments they need for different items. Also get a space case so that they can pack all their stationery in one place.

Take proper care of stationery
Teach your children to handle their stationery with care. This means teaching them the importance of replacing tops on pens and markers, replacing the top on their glue sticks and keeping crayons and colouring pencils packed in the box.

By Tia Frapolli for The NPD Group

The holiday season presents consumers with a perfect opportunity to get in touch with their creative side – a behaviour that bodes well for the US office supplies market.

Several arts, crafts, and traditional supplies categories that require creativity and offer an experience will be among the top industry performers this holiday. And, we know from NPD’s Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey that experiential gifting is not only trending with consumers, but set to grow over last year. In fact, the survey found that four out of 10 consumers plan on giving these types of gifts this year.

When it comes to the craft-related categories, consumer shopping behavior indicates a preference for discovering and purchasing these products in-person as opposed to online. Specifically, NPD data shows that acrylic paints, paint brushes, specialty note cards, and canvases all have a very low penetration in the e-commerce channel. In fact, over 95 percent of purchases in each of these categories are made in-store.

Tied to such products, we expect that popular holiday craft activities will include ornament decorating and homemade holiday décor. In addition, as spending time with friends and family is top of mind during the holidays, we expect the ever-popular canvas painting parties to continue to grow this season, and there are the sales numbers to show for it—canvas sales have grown by 20 percent over the past year.

Coinciding with the maker’s movement and popularity of hand lettering, this season we also expect to see a rise in holiday card making with custom lettering. A variety of writing instruments used for this activity are already seeing growth; collectively, sales of gel, porous, and fountain pens as well as dual, ultra, and extra fine color markers have grown by 8 percent leading up to the holiday season.

Without a doubt, consumers let their creativity shine during the holiday season, and this presents a favorable opportunity for the office supplies industry to get in on the action.

By Lisa Bowman for Metro
Image credit: Wrapt

Last year it was estimated that Brits would throw out 108-million rolls of Christmas wrapping paper. That’s a lot of waste.

Even the most well-intentioned of us may be unaware that the wrap we put in recycling isn’t actually recyclable, if it contains plastic, dye, foil, glitter or leftover sticky tape.

Most of us aren’t prepared to hand people unwrapped gifts – where’s the joy in that? – so thankfully there are eco-friendly wrapping routes we can take.

Most of them are so chic they’ll make it look like Pinterest threw up under your tree.

Recycled brown paper
Brown paper is one of your cheapest options, and yet has the most potential to look impressive – you just have to get crafty. You can get recycled brown paper at your local Post Office.
Limited budget/don’t have time to mess about with ribbons and foliage? Make it your own with wooden stamps.

Go DIY with old fabric
Got old Christmas tablecloths lying around the house? Christmas tea towels? Feel like making the most of the kitsch Christmas patterns in your local fabric shop? Wrap your presents in it!

Secure it by tying a knot as a bow, or by using eco twine or cut-up fabric as ribbon. Just ensure you get the fabric back to use again if the recipient doesn’t plan to use it.

Reusable fabric gift bags/bottle bags
Gift bags and bottle bags are such a waste – as soon as the gift’s been taken out, they’re usually chucked in the rubbish.
Did you know you can buy reusable fabric versions?
Sure, they’re expensive, but they’re made from 45% recycled fabric, and the maker promises that they’re durable enough to last a lifetime.
You just need to make sure you gift them to someone who’ll actualy re-use them.

Use magazines or newspaper
Chances are, you’ve got some old newspaper or magazines lying around the house – instead of chucking these straight in your recycling bin, why not give them a detour? A new life as gift wrap?

Obviously make sure the stories printed in the publication are, er, appropriate.

Regular wrap – make sure it’s recycled and recyclable
If you’re not into any of the above options, and simply want a more eco version of your usual minimal effort wrapping paper, then all is not lost.

All you have to do is make sure your gift wrap is recycled, and that it’s recyclable. Obviously this option is quite expensive and unless you’re made of money, they’re not likely to be an option for those who have a million kids’ presents to wrap.
So, if all else fails – at least make sure the wrap you use is fully recyclable, if it’s not made from recycled content itself.

Reuse old wrapping paper and gift bags
My mum used to laboriously pick off the sellotape from gifts and save the wrapping paper to use again. As a child, I thought she’d lost her mind but now, I see where she was coming from.
Keep a stash of old wrapping paper and gift/bottle bags, and save up ribbons and bows from gifts throughout the year.
They can cost a lot of money as well as the earth, so you may as well make the most of them!

Don’t forget your decorations
Shun the landfill fodder that is regular plastic ribbon – jazz it up with environmentally-friendly twine instead. Honestly, it looks super twee.
You can even make bows and ribbon out of old newspaper. Go full-on Pinterest by using cinnamon and foraged pine cones/foliage.
If you’re using brown paper, forget gift tags and simply write your message directly on the paper, or make gift
tags out of scrap card.
Plastic sticky tape can’t be recycled, so use an eco version like paper packing tape.
Happy gift wrapping!

Paper cut: the ancient stencil art of Sanjhi

By Soma Das for Hindustan Times 

The stencil art of Sanjhi has its roots in Indian folk culture and is associated with Vaishnav temple traditions.

As an eight-year-old, paper artist Jaishree Pankaj Shah would watch intently as her grandfather made hand-cut paper designs or stencils to decorate the swing of Lord Srinathji. That was her first lesson in the Sanjhi paper craft.

Sanjhi is an art form rooted in the folk culture of Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, and later became an integral part of Vaishnavite traditions. It was patronised as a refined art form in the 15th and 16th century, and was practised by priests in Vaishnav temples.

“During the Bhadrapad (monsoon) season, the temple floor would often be decorated with banana leaves cut into various shapes and sizes. The art later evolved into paper stencils with floral and geometric designs,” says Shah. “Sanjhi artworks were used to decorate temples, nat-mandirs and kirtan sabhas during Vaishnav festivals such as Holi, Janmashtami and Jhulan.”

At an exhibition at Artisans’ in Kala Ghoda, Shah is showcasing 45 Sanjhi panels (some are three dimensional and as tall as 20 sq ft) depicting the Raas Leela, and inspired by the architecture of the Vaishnavite havelis and jharokhas of Gujarat and Rajasthan.

The traditional art form was quite daunting as the paper cuttings were made directly without sketching or tracing.

To make a Sanjhi, Shah sketches a rough outline of the motif and then fills in the details while making cuts. She then glues the parts together on a coloured sheet of paper or silk before framing the work. “Each work is intricate, and it takes between a week to two months to make a panel,” she says. The traditional art form was quite daunting as the paper cuttings were made directly without sketching or tracing.

The art form of Sanjhi still manifests itself in places where Vaishnav culture flourished. “At Mathura, Vrindavan, West Bengal and Odisha — which are home to Vaishnav communities and Radha Krishna lore in visual and performing arts — you can find this art form reflected in various traditions that work with silhouette and stencil forms,” says Shah.

Artist creates paintings, sculptures with fabric

In the hands of Benjamin Shine, a piece of tulle isn’t just for making fancy dresses and curtains.

Using nothing but an iron, the British artist turns the fabric into amazingly realistic paintings and sculptures.

Shine sculpts, presses and pleats the huge single piece of tulle, whose transparent qualities give the portrait more texture and depth. By layering in this way, the artist obtains different tones and shadows that enable him to realistically depict everything from objects to portraits.

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