Summer 2018
Bookish Pursuits By Poornima Apte

Mindfulness and a desire for reconnection with our inner selves is driving demand for journals and coloring books.

Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. Email. Phone calls. Our frenetic lives have had a most pleasant side effect: a growing emphasis on mindfulness and a need to connect with pen and paper as a way of documenting the joys of our everyday lives. What’s more, art therapy, which is the process of creating artwork to explore feelings, reconcile conflicts and reduce anxiety, is also back in demand. At the basis of art therapy: personal expression.

What does this all mean and why does this matter to you? Because there’s an associated bounty of gift products in journals and coloring books that are selling like hotcakes and these categories are tailor made for gift shops like yours.

Journals Unlimited gardener’s journal.

The write fit

According to a 2017 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s journal, Preventing Chronic Disease, yoga and other mindfulness practices, such as meditation, are on the rise among U.S. workers. And mindfulness is not just being embraced in the workplace it is also on the rise elsewhere as a way of reconnecting with our lives.

One of the anchors of mindfulness: journaling. Gina B. Gottschalk of Gina B. Designs agreed. “I believe, more than ever, that people are searching for ways to reduce stress in their lives and quiet their busy minds,” she said, explaining why journaling has become increasingly popular over the years. “Writing one’s thoughts and feelings can also help clarify situations and can be a wonderful tool for problem solving,” Gottschalk added. “Journaling can foster personal growth and creativity as well.”

Gina B. Designs.
CR Gibson.

Nene Okereke with C. R. Gibson has seen journaling being used to record thoughts and ideas, remember inspirational quotes and for more mundane things like to-do lists, record-keeping, note-taking or simply drawing and doodling.

“There’s something very therapeutic about putting a pen to paper and capturing memories through the written word,” said Barbara Morina, Owner and President of Journals Unlimited. “To have a keepsake or log of the trips you’ve taken, the goals you’ve met, and the guests who have stayed is something irreplaceable.”

Color in sales

A similar explanation is behind the popularity of coloring books for adults. Entire coloring parties are all the rage these days with women investing in elaborate kits and patterned books to pursue their new favorite hobby.

CR Gibson.

“Coloring can also be beneficial for stress reduction,” Gottschalk said. “It’s a relaxing, and mostly mindless activity. Many of the adult coloring books you see out there have pages of symmetrical patterns called mandalas. Coloring these repetitive shapes can create mindfulness, and can even bring someone into a meditative state.”

“Similar to reading a book or completing a crossword puzzle at the end of the day, the activity of creatively coloring in a design of your choice puts the mind at ease and takes away from everyday stresses,” Okereke said.

Blue Mountain Arts.

What sells

CR Gibson offers standard lined journals in a range of colors, sizes, formats, and functionality. There are guided journals to reflect on what you are grateful for. For the beer drinker, the company offers a “beer 30” guided journal to remember all of the beers you try at different local breweries.

Morina says the guided format of the company’s “Write it Down!” series engages the writer to capture the things that matter. “You’re simply answering short questions but when complete, you’ve created an invaluable, timeless journal,” she noted.

Popular offerings have included “Camping, The Camper’s Journal,” which is formatted with prompts including location, date(s), weather, people I camped with or met, what I did, and things I enjoyed most. Then there’s Vacation, The Traveler’s Journal which features prompts: how I (we) traveled, where I (we) stayed, people I (we) met, places to remember for next time. Another popular one is Me, A Personal Journal whose prompts include; in the news today, I am excited about, physically & mentally I feel, people or things that brightened my day.


The perfect sales add-on

“Most shoppers are conditioned to see and assume that journals in a display will be blank inside. To overcome this obstacle, we suggest leaving one (or more!) open in the display. Once the shopper realizes that they are indeed not your typical blank journals, they can’t help but explore more titles on display,” Morina said.

“Many stores also find success in diversifying around the store,” Morina added. “With so many different themes available, they can set a display geared toward the outdoors with camping equipment and a display filled with family and child themes in the children’s department. We’ve also seen travel and wedding themes placed with wedding stationery.”

Journals Unlimited.

Okereke advises retailers to make sure the cover is shown in good lighting along with coordinating pens, pencils and sticky notes. “Separate journals from other “note-taking” items,” she said. “Journals should be viewed by the consumer as a gift or accessory purchase, not a glorified notepad. The journal displays should make a bold fashion/trend statement in the space.”

Gottschalk suggests retailers merchandise journals and coloring books even for less well-known holidays such as Administrative Assistant’s Day or position them as great gifts for moms-to-be. An obvious season is Back To School, Okereke points out. “Back to school is not just for kids, adults use the time to refresh their office look.”

Works of art

Journals and coloring books are works of art in themselves. “There’s something about beautiful papers and materials that make us want to pick it up and feel the textures,” Gottschalk said. “Putting a pen to beautiful paper makes the experience even more enjoyable.”

“I think that the younger generations are realizing the value of the mental and emotional rewards associated with journaling and being able to reflect on their memories in a physical book, not stored on a tablet, computer, or phone,” Morina said.

And from all indications, that same feeling of mindfulness and connecting back to our inner selves is galvanizing growth in both journals and coloring books. And gift shop retailers like you are best positioned to benefit from growing demand.

Poornima Apte

Poornima Apte is an award-winning experienced freelance writer and editor. Learn more at

Social Connections

Gift Shop Plus Summer 2024
Get one year of Gift Shop Plus in both print and digital editions for just $16.

Interested in reading the print edition of Gift Shop Plus?

Subscribe Today »

website development by deyo designs