'Pokémon Go' sends swarms of players to bookstores and libraries. But will they remember the books?
By Michael Schaub
Jul 13, 2016 | 10:49 AM
If you're a book lover who's become addicted to “Pokémon Go,” you might be able to get a Charmander and Sandshrew along with your Stephen King and Elena Ferrante.
The recently released smartphone game has taken the world by storm, and bookstores and libraries across the country are finding themselves right in the middle.
Publishers Weekly reports that booksellers have noticed an increase in foot traffic due to the augmented reality game that sends users on treks across their cities, trying to catch as many Pokémon (small, cute, animated monsters) as possible.
Major bookstores, including Tattered Cover in Denver and the Strand in New York, are happy to play along.
Wild Detectives Bookstore in Dallas happens to be located across the street from a virtual "PokeGym," where users train their Pokemon for battles. Sam Villavert, a barista at the store, said the game has attracted several first-time customers to the shop. "People pop in, get their Pokemon, or whatever it is they are doing, [and maybe] they have a coffee," he said.
Main Street Books in Charles, Mo., is hoping to lure new customers by advertising that they’ve got cold water for just $1 – and that Pokemon Go players who show they’ve captured creatures in the store get a 10% discount.
Because the game is fun and all, but it doesn’t necessarily add up to sales.
Strand communications director Whitney Hu told PR Week she wasn't worried about the increased traffic caused by players hoping to get their virtual hands on a Bulbasaur. "[T]here is so much room to run around and find corners that we haven’t had that conversation yet," she said. "Most of our employees know more about it than our managers do, anyway."
Libraries are also seeing an uptick of visitors because of the game. Some, like Cincinnati are posting pictures of the creatures on their Instagram feeds.
In Provo, Utah, “Pokemén Go” players are flocking to the city library, but it's only led to an increase in trash on the library lawn. Library director Gene Nelson isn't thrilled about the garbage, but he doesn't mind the Pokémon addicts congregating outside the library. "This is a group that certainly doesn’t have any ill will at all, they are just chasing these Pokémons," he told the local press.
Some libraries are actively reaching out to Pokémon fans. The Tennessean reports that some branches of the Nashville Public Library have been designated as PokeGyms. The library's information officer, Emily Waltenbaugh, told the newspaper, "Our Green Hills branch is apparently a 'training gym,' and staff there noticed so many “Pokémon Go” players that they made a display to welcome them and remind them that we have lots of great Pokemon books, DVDs and streaming resources available throughout our system."
As you might expect, not everyone is impressed with the unlikely intersection between books and the smartphone game, including author and publisher Jason Pinter: