Ignatius Reilly in the House; Or, Bookstore Game Night

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Whether you’re playing Chickyboom, Scrabble, or Jishaku, or holding a literary trivia contest, bookstore game nights can draw regulars and boost sales. “It’s fun, and we always have several games out at all times for people to play,” said Becky Anderson of Anderson’s Bookshops.

Anderson’s Bookshops in Naperville, Illinois, turned an event with Tim Walsh, author of Timeless Toys (Andrews McMeel) and creator of the game Blurt, into a game night.  “We had card tables and chairs set up around the store with many different games,” said Anderson. For another night, a toy rep demonstrated various games.

Anderson’s always keeps games available for customers to try. “The real key,” said Anderson, “is to have all booksellers know how to play the games and demo them for customers.”

Throughout November, Anderson’s will host Game Saturdays, featuring select games and demonstrations. At these events, Anderson’s offers an additional discount on all games.

Anderson highly recommends the award-winning games from Blue Orange, and she hopes to host a game night where one of their reps will come in and demonstrate some of their products. “Their games are incredible and are among our bestsellers,” she said.

For game night to work, Anderson noted, it has to be promoted regularly via e-mail blasts, Tweets, and Facebook posts. “Let’s get people away from glowing screens and interacting with good fun and conversation,” she said.

Kona Stories in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, started holding a monthly casual BYOG game night because it’s light on resources and builds traffic and sales.

About six to 10 people show up at each event and play Scrabble, Blokus, or Sequence. Kona Stories doesn’t sell games, but benefits from having customers spend an additional hour or so at the store. “The event boosts sales a bit, if only because people see something happening and come into the store when they might otherwise pass on by,” said Kona’s Joy Vogelgesang. “Attendees bring games, and the group decides what they want to play. Often there are a couple of groups playing different games.”  

Spellbinder Books & Coffee of Bishop, California, has hosted a few trivia nights (along with Haiku D’etat, an open mic haiku night) that have drawn crowds of about 40. Lynne Almeida said that while, so far, the events haven’t increased sales, they “remind people that the bookstore is a fun place.” Almeida is considering asking for a suggested donation as she does for live music at the store. 

At Spellbinder’s “Night of the Word Nerds” event, which featured a costume contest, customers came dressed as their favorite literary characters. “We had two women dressed as ladies from the Great Gatsby,” said Almeida. “We had Ignatius J. Reilly from A Confederacy of Dunces. One girl came as Fancy Nancy, and someone else came as Sylvia Plath. She had a tiny toy oven.”

Staff provided the trivia questions and contestants were divided into teams. “We had questions on kids’ books, class literature, and current popular titles, and some weird book questions, said Almeida. “One book question stumped almost everyone: What is it called when pages of a book look hand cut? Deckled. No one knew that one.”