Secret Garden: The Real Thing

In my previous post, I have expressed my doubt on the authenticity of the Secret Garden coloring book that I bought from an IG seller. I saw the real thing at Fully Booked, a solid proof that what I got was a rip-off! Buying an original is of utmost importance to me since coloring is something that I invest a lot of my time, energy, and creativity in. There are 96 pages to color– think about the number of days, nights, months, and even years of your life you’re spending on this book. How do you ever give justice to your work, furthermore, to the work of Johanna Basford, if you are working on a rip-off?!

IMG_0241Fully Booked has a wide selection of coloring books for grown-ups.
That’s me in the photo, fully absorbed in the coloring book extravaganza.

If you share the same sentiment with me, please be very sure that you are getting the real thing and your money’s worth when  buying your coloring book from an online seller. If you are as clueless as I was and easily lured by these cut-rate coloring book shops online, I tell you, never ever. Go straight to Fully Booked, Powerbooks, or National Bookstore.


Printed in Italy vs. Printed in China. Am I being critical with the one printed in China?
Could this be enough proof that I got a rip-off?

The Guardian says that Secret Garden sold 3M copies in China. It could have sold copies like hotcakes in China and I could have bought a China copy, but how could I be so sure that I got an authentic one that was only printed in China? Nowadays, one couldn’t help but get skeptical with the authenticity of anything made in China. Especially if you live in the Philippines where there is a massive invasion of everything made in China!

Millie Marotta’s Tropical Wonderland, which I bought from an online seller looks, feels, and smells exactly as the ones displayed in legit bookstores. With Secret Garden, it’s a different story.

IMG_0242The REAL THING at Fully Booked. I went home with THIS.

I saw, touched, and turned the pages of the ones being sold at PHP 320 or PHP 350, they are a total rip-off and of poorer quality than the one that I got online at PHP 500. Those that are Priced at PHP 250 or less are cringe-worthy! What else China couldn’t copy these days, anyway?!

Here are the telltale signs that the copy you have on hand is a rip-off.

REAL THING (left) VS. RIP-OFF (right)

IMG_6074The  color of the dust jacket and leaves of the real thing is creamRip-off: Natural (white)


The rip-off  has a light brown paper cover.


Color Bleeding — The poor print quality sparked my doubt on the authenticity of the book. Also,  it has strong ink smell.

IMG_6078The real thing is thicker, because the pages are made of thicker and heavier paper stock. I read that the newest version has actually become thicker because of the paper used. Perhaps the earlier versions have the same thickness as the rip-off?

The real thing screams superb quality. ‘Nuff said. 🙂

*Secret Garden can be bought at Fully Booked for PHP 699.

Felt-tip Marker Pens & Pastels

I have now brought this coloring craze to a higher level by adding felt-tip marker pens and pastels to my coloring arsenal!



Dainty blue and white


I brought different brands so I’ll know which works best. I’m loving so much how cheap and efficient  Crystal Water Base Pen is. My Color 2 by Dong A  has a broad nib on one end and a thin nib on the other. Using it is a bit of a challenge since there’s too much ink coming out. I have to control my force in coloring, if not the color will bleed through even if the paper is already thick. I am yet to use the Stabilo and Faber-Castell.

With pastels, I’ll make another post once I’ve already used them.


9 thoughts on “Secret Garden: The Real Thing

  1. My genuine (unless Barnes and Noble is somehow selling fakes) Secret Garden says printed in China. Publishers that outsource to this cheap labor imo bring the counterfeiting problem on themselves. The Chinese will fake anything. Ps I found your page on google searching for information about fake coloring books. I live in avoid they’re among the worst I hear

  2. Hi Alexine! Sorry, it took a while before I finally got to answer your Q. I guess you got the real copy, only it was printed in China. The one printed here in the Phils doesn’t have good paper quality, too. If you’re using fineliners and coloring markers, it will really bleed through even with the thicker pages. You can’t help it. What I do, I apply gentle strokes so I don’t get the opposite page ruined. 😊

  3. Hi, i bought that book from fully booked CDO and it was made of china. Well there are some issues. Im using a fineliner and coloring markers. It bleed throughs the paper if i accidentally color it on a hard pressure or if the inks im using has a dark pigment that can cause a bleed through. i have also an enchanted forest book and it was printed in italy where i bought it also from fully booked and i compare the two books the latter is thick compare to the secret garden book. So i was curious if it was a rip off or not? Thanks

  4. Hi Xean! Thanks for the info. I always check the coloring books displayed at NBS and, yes, I’m 100% sure that all of them are authentic.
    It’s not my intention to generalize all China-printed Secret Garden books to be fake. It only happened that initially I got a China-printed rip-off.
    Yes, there’s a Filipino version, Lihim na Hardin! I made a blog about it, check my latest entry.
    I moonlight as a translator so I find the Filipino version amusing. Nakakaligaya hahaha. It’s a great gift idea to Filipinos living abroad I think. 🙂
    Thank you for dropping by and sharing your thoughts!

  5. I actually bought the one in NBS. I checked everything what is in here and every thing seems to be in place except only that it was printed in china. It’s doing pretty well. No color bleeding. I use felt tip markers, color pens, gel pens, and ordinarily ballpens. And color pencils. I’m a little afraid to use pastels since the print is back to back. Some of the pastels might stick to the other page.

    PS i saw imitations after i bought one in NBS. At first i was shocked by the very low price but when i saw it, i realized that it was only a rip-off. I saw again in SM stationary corner
    And it was bloody printed in Filipino.

  6. Hi Bree! ‘Glad that you found this post helpful. You’re welcome! 😊 I saw the one sold at NBS. It’s close to the fake one described here, but like the real one the color of the paper is cream and the print quality, as you mentioned, is really good. However, I assume that the one at NBS could be the older version because the one sold at Fully Booked is made of thicker paper material. So better check the one at Fully Booked first so you’ll find out the difference yourself. 😊

  7. I saw one in National Bookstore today at P599. Quality of the print was good and the paper is probably 120gsm. However, it says printed in China and has the same reprint information format with the (fake)one you posted. I called Fullybooked earlier and they said they only have Singapore printed. Now I’m confused. Anyway im going to check the one in Fullybooked tomorrow and see how different they are 🙂
    Thanks for posting this

  8. Hi Kristine! Thank you, especially for the input. 😊 The really cheap ones might not have it, but that fake one that I got was a very good replica. There’s also ISBN code at the back.

  9. Hi, nice post! If im not mistaken, check the back part of the book where the barcode is printed. The original one has ISBN CODE while the fake ones has CHiNa printed on the barcode. I bought mine online at book depository UK and it costs me around 18USD. Saw some IG resellers and “tiangge” selling same book for only 150 but the prints are not clear and the quality/type of paper used is different.

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