imageI received an e-mail a few weeks ago from a friendly fellow Canadian asking me to review his coloring ‘e-books.’ I delightedly accepted—I like crafts and have a few paper coloring books myself. And there are some advantages to making a genre such as this electronic. A paper coloring book can be used only once. An e-book can be re-printed over and over again, whenever you want a fresh page to color.

Andrei Kelner’s company, Bookolorata, offers attractive products in a variety of formats. You can get PDF single pages via Etsy. And through the Kindle store, you can download entire e-books at affordable prices. These options left me  confused. When I asked Kelner which format I should get to ensure proper printing, he sent me first a link to the Etsy store, and then when I could not get a coupon code for that, a link to a shared Dropbox folder which had all the files. Too fussy!

Once again: The Etsy store sells PDF single pages. The Kindle store offers the regular Kindle e-book format. Yes, those are two formats. That needs to be clear.

My other complaint is about the prices of the PDFs. Most paper coloring books I own are at least 50 pages long and are about $15 to buy. Kelner’s Etsy PDFs are 99 cents per page. It would cost three times as much for a full-length book, at those prices. And, yes, he does have the $1.99 Kindle book. But the only way to really print from there would be to read it on a tablet, take a screen shot and print that. I imagine you’d lose some resolution on the graphics that way, but you would at least save money.

Technical snafus notwithstanding, the artwork was excellent, and these would indeed be lovely to colour. And I do think the e-format solves many problems. I have seen some lovely books be ruined by inferior paper choices. When you print yourself, you can use whatever paper you want, and then you can work with markers or paints or whatever medium, too. Also, if you make a mistake, there is no loss of opportunity. Just re-print it and start over. I think that for de-clutterers like me, there is also the same appeal as there is for a regular e-book: I can have as many as I want, and they take up no space in my house.

So would I recommend these? Well, yes and no. The artwork is indeed lovely, and the Etsy prices, while high to me, seem to be comparable to what others are offering for this same type of product. I suppose it is fair that ‘artisan’ work such as this would cost more than a mass-market paperback. But I think this may be overkill for some; 99 cents a page is quite steep if you want to buy dozens of these. I’d start with the free samples that some of the big publishing companies offer to see if you like this sort of thing first. Then maybe set a budget for yourself and get a couple of the artisan ones when you want to. I don’t think I’d buy a whole book’s worth from one person at those prices. But I might buy one page each from several different artists to get some variety into my growing digital coloring library.

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"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."


  1. I think coloring books don’t work as ebooks. A lot of the enjoyment comes from the sensation of pencil/marker/brush on paper, and you lose that when coloring on a screen.

    But that’s okay, because you’re talking about POD (or print yourself) coloring books rather than coloring ebooks. That is different.

  2. It’s not really ‘different,’ Nate. I am talking about purchasing a digital version of what would otherwise be a paper book. That is an e-book to me. And yes, to use this book properly, I would have to print at least some of it. But that is no different from fitness e-books which often has links to printable versions of charts or log sheets, or cookbooks where one can easily print a screenshot for use in the kitchen.

  3. Being able to print the same page more than once is certainly a plus but it may be just a matter of time before DRM puts a stop to that. PDF is probably a very poor choice for on-screen coloring, maybe Kindle too but what about all of those lovely painting apps for iOS and Android not to mention desktop apps such as Painter? Getting line art to color in could be a better way to approach this market space. I’m getting the impression that this is a Rube Goldberg machine in the making. Just a few more hoops and roundabouts and we’ll have it.

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