3M relied exclusively on freelance designers for the bookshelf game series. Between 400-600 submissions were received every year by the company. These were screened to find unique and interesting games that were connected to any recent trends or fads. Designers like Alex Randolph and Sid Sackson were largely responsible for shaping the direction of the line towards abstract strategy and economic games.
In 1976, 3M was looking to get out of the board game business and sold their entire line to Avalon Hill, which produced a competing line of bookcase games. Avalon Hill continued to publish the line until 1998, when it was dissolved by its parent company. The Avalon Hill name and properties were subsequently purchased by Hasbro. Some of the bookshelf games, such as Acquire, were obtained by Hasbro in the deal. While Acquire was republished by Hasbro/Avalon Hill in a new format, the company has indicated that they have no plans to publish any of the 3M or Avalon Hill bookshelf games.
Some of the games that were not acquired by Hasbro, such as Facts in Five and Executive Decision have since been published by University Games in a bookshelf format. Like the 3M series, they are designed to mimic the appearance of a large hardcover book, but instead of a slip-case, the games use a magnetic closing flap.