This year in our HPB calendar, we’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we buy and sell in our stores.
For March, we’ve exercised our brain to bring you some fascinating info about puzzles.
1760s Londoner John Spilsbury creates early wooden jigsaw puzzles.
c.1900 A jigsaw puzzle craze sweeps the US.
1920s Jigsaw puzzles become an inexpensive Depression-era pastime.
1932 Jig of the Week, a weekly 25¢ puzzle, is a hit on newsstands.
2011 The world’s largest jigsaw puzzle, with 551,232 pieces, is assembled in Vietnam.
DID YOU KNOW?
- A 1514 engraving by Albrecht Dürer featured a “magic square,” a distant ancestor to sudoku and other number-based puzzles.
- Jigsaw puzzles emerged in the 18th century when maps were mounted on wood and cut into pieces along national borders. Known as dissected maps, they were used to teach geography to children.
- In the early 20th century, the high cost of wooden jigsaw puzzles put them out of reach of average consumers, but they became a staple of the high-society party scene.
- The first known published crossword puzzle appeared December 21, 1913, in the New York World. By the 1920s they were carried in most US newspapers.
The Jigsaw Puzzle: Piecing Together a History, Anne D. William
The History and Craft of Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles: From Historical Source Instructions to Modern Tools and Techniques, Carrie Franzwa
Crossworld: One Man’s Journey Into America’s Crossword Obsession, Marc Romano
A Clue for The Puzzle Lady, Parnell Hall
The New York Times Sunday Crossword Puzzles: 50 Sunday Puzzles from the Pages of The New York Times, Will Shortz, ed.
Sudoku Mania, Book 1
When you think about board games, what comes to mind? Games like Scrabble, Life, Clue, and if you had a hankering for games that take all day, maybe Risk? Perhaps they were things you played as a kid on family nights, but today you would prefer to watch paint dry rather than sit through a three hour slog of Monopoly all while desperately hoping you’ll land on your greedy nephew’s Boardwalk hotel so you can declare bankruptcy and go do something – anything – else.
But what if I told you board game popularity is on the rise again? In the last year alone sales grew by 28% in the US, and board games are a multi-billion dollar business worldwide. What’s driving this growth? Well, primarily a new, better generation of board games. These new games drive enjoyment for all players throughout the entirety of the game. Problems that make games less fun, such as the runaway winner problem in Monopoly, or the problem in Life that the game is mostly resolved by who gets more lucky spins, are generally problems of the past. Imagine a game featuring even more depth of strategy and decision making than Risk but only taking an hour to play; the newer generation accomplishes this.
Not only are these games demonstrably better designed and more fun, but they also promote something our digital life just cannot duplicate: Real. Humans. Interacting. This interaction promotes pro-social behavior. Unlike online video games where particularly toxic behaviors can be hidden behind an anonymous username, board games require you to actually not be a jerk, unless you want to be confined to solitaire games forever.
At Half Price Books, we have embraced this new generation of games, and our selection features some of the most popular games available, all at 20% off their MSRP. Here’s just a few of what we have to offer and why you must play them:
Catan is widely thought of as THE starting point for the revival of the board game industry. Your role in the game is to build up settlements and cities on the newly discovered island of Catan and try to be the first to score ten points. A relatively simple game that plays 2-4 players in about an hour, it features hallmarks of modern gaming like resource management, building structures and area map control, as well as a few classic mechanics like dice rolling and card trading. If you want to see the roots of modern gaming and get a taste of what is out there, pick this one up. Or, if you have younger children, check out Catan Jr.