Diary of a Bookseller

Le Tournoi des Livres

Diary of a Bookseller #11

The Tournament of Books sounds just so much cooler in French. Though its roots are in American basketball, I prefer to refer to it by it’s French title, it just sounds more elegant. If I call it le tournoi des livres the books might start jousting or something equally medieval. But that’s not the important part, the important part is what the tournament of books actually IS!

While there are many parts of my job that I absolutely love, putting together displays and unofficial handselling competitions between all of us booksellers is probably one of my favorites. The Tournament of Books was my idea to bring non-bookish people, but sports lovers, into the store by capitalizing on my love of both. And thus, the tourney was born.

We had a great deal of stock from the holidays of our staff picks from the year left over in March my first year at the store and I was trying to figure out what to do with them – I wasn’t quite ready to send them back to the publisher.

So I decided to give them one more display, one more push out the store in time for spring break. We tallied up the total sales for all the picks for the year (staff picks are due every two weeks and we have eight staff members, so roughly 200 picks) and the top 32 (those that sold the most) fill in our bracket. Once we have the bracket filled out, we print it for customers to fill in their predictions and the customer that gets the winning book and most matchups correct, wins a gift card to the store.

And the best part, customers can actually try to make their own books selections in each match up win by purchasing them. Sales determined the list, sales determine who wins the bracket! It does get a little tricky in that we accept brackets all month long, so no one knows which ones have been knocked out until the winner is crowned. But the customers like it, I like it, we all have fun, and really, at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters!

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