Half Price Books presents the Half Price Blog featuring book reviews, music and movie reviews, trivia and randomness about things we love. That means a whole lot of fiction, nonfiction, music, movies, games, and collectibles… including rare and out-of-print literary treasures.
Meet all our Blog Authors & Contributors »

Potluck-genius, insomniac-procrastinator and crafting-whiz. Inventor of the “Hey that’s my Boots!” CEO Paper Doll, the HPB Snuggie, braille t-shirt and Tacky BW Holiday Sweater.
PR maven, news junkie, baseball fanatic, late-night talk show watcher, frequent restaurant diner and former VH-1 reality show addict.
Film buff and wanna-be chef. Who's up for dinner and a movie?! Crouching Tiger stir-fry or Godfather spaghetti and a bottle of vino. Please, no talking or texting during the movie.
Music enthusiast and all around acceptable person. Take it or leave it, JD will say things about music that you'll either love, hate, or feel indifferent about.
Donned in an apron, baking pies and other tempting treats – there's nothing desperate about this housewife. Loves travel, the great outdoors, classic films, indie music and non-fiction.
The Buy Guy is a quarter-century-plus employee expert on all things books & music; his favorite buy involved hundreds of old theology books from the Mount St. Michael Convent hilltop library in Spokane, Washington.
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Is it signed? How to spot an authentic autograph.

Fans of Half Price Books know there are always all sorts of treasures to be found in our stores, including books, music and movies, among other unique items. But one very unique treasure you might not have thought about is autographs. The first thing to know about collecting autographs is that there is only one way to be 100% sure that a signature is authentic, and that is to get the autograph in person. Be sure to keep an eye out at your neighborhood Half Price Books as we continually have author signings. Authors like Brad Thor, Robin Roberts and Maggie Stiefvater have made it to HPB in the past and we have many exciting announcements this fall.

Back to autographs. If you don’t actually get a signature in person, be aware that there are no regulations on anyone printing their own certificate of authentication. Do your research on what companies are reputable. The two largest authentication companies are PSA/DNA and JSA. Seeing their small sticker on an item helps you know something is authentic, but anyone can make mistakes.

If you are purchasing or selling an autograph, there are several things for you, as well as our buyers at the counter, to inspect. There are many different types of fake autographs:

STAMPED SIGNATURE: This sort of fake autograph is the easiest to spot. It usually has the appearance of a rubber stamp. Look for things like uneven ink distribution and no actual pen strokes. Also, the ink tends to pool up in some areas, or there are small sections where there is no ink at all.

PREPRINTED AUTOGRAPH: The next easiest to spot is the preprint. These are photos or printed items where the item was signed by someone, then taken and mass produced. You get these quite often with big name stars who receive a ton of fan mail. Here is an example of a celebrity preprint. 

AUTOPEN SIGNATURES: These are a little more difficult to spot. An autopen machine works by tracing over a pattern of a person’s signature. When autopens are made, they tend to have the same width of line throughout the signature and no variations in width as a real signature would. There also tends to be perfect dots at the beginning and the end of the signature, as the pen goes straight down and straight back up when finished. A dead giveaway on these is to just do a little research. It is not uncommon at all to find different signatures that all match perfectly. Someone that uses an autopen we all know is President Obama himself.

SECRETARIAL SIGNATURES: These are probably the toughest to spot as some of them can be quite good. These are handwritten signatures usually done by secretaries, other family members, or people at a company.  Do you research carefully on these. Compare signatures from legit in-person signings. It also helps when comparing if you turn the signatures upside down, that way your brain doesn’t fill in the gaps to form letters. Your mind is simply comparing images.

FORGED SIGNATURE: These signatures out on the market are simply being forged and sold as authentic. A lot of the same steps are taken when looking for a forgery as looking for a secretarial signature. Elvis Presley and The Beatles are always near the top of the list as the most-forged signatures.

Our buyers at Half Price Books check over each item that has a signature, doing their best research to determine if an autograph is authentic or not.

Now that you have a background on the different types of signatures, the best advice in autograph collecting is to have fun with the hobby.

Don’t get into it to get rich. Just collect what you love. 


Jim is Art Director at Half Price Books Corporate.


Books Authors Read with Earl Swift

Journalist and five time (wow!) Pulitzer Prize nominee Earl Swift will be at our Dallas Flagship HPB on Wednesday, July 16 at 7 p.m. to sign and discuss his new book, Auto Biography, a fascinating look at the life of a classic ’57 Chevy. We hope you’ll stop by to meet Earl! In the meantime, we asked Earl to put together some of his favorite books for our “Books Authors Read” series. Take it away, Earl! -- Emily

Books Authors Read with Earl Swift

1.  Bill Morris, Motor City

The first book by novelist, journalist and essayist Morris, this fictional 1993 yarn is set in the automotive design world of mid-fifties Detroit, and recreates the time and place down to the subtlest curve, the briefest wink of chrome, years before “Mad Men” trod similar ground. A fun, fast, smart read that’ll stay with you.

2. W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence

This is the story of one Charles Strickland, a button-down British stockbroker who abandons his wife and children and runs off the Paris to become a painter—and eventually, meets his fate in a squalid South Seas hut. But there’s far more to it than that: Told through Maugham’s loner-traveler narrator, the novel (generally recognized as a fictionalized spin on the life of Paul Gauguin) offers a lasting rumination on art, talent, obsession and destiny.

Click to read more ...


Summer Anthems: 6 Songs With The Spirit of Summer

There’s nothing like a great song to put in you the mood for summer. Whether you're road-tripping with Mom & Dad or at a backyard barbecue with your BFFs, here are some classic songs that let you know summer has arrived! Enjoy! 

1. Summertime, by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince

 "Summer, summer, summertime
Time to sit back and unwind"

2. Summer Love, by Justin Timberlake

"I can't wait to fall in love with you
You can't wait to fall in love with me
This just can't be summer love, you'll see"

3. Summer Breeze, by Seals and Crofts

"Sweet days of summer, the jasmine's in bloom
July is dressed up and playing her tune"

4. In The Summertime, by Mungo Jerry

 "We're always happy
Life's for livin' yeah, that's our philosophy"

5. All Summer Long, by Kid Rock

"Singing a 'Sweet Home Alabama' yeah
Singing all summer long"

 6. Summer Girls, by LFO

"I like girls that wear Abercrombie and Fitch,
I'd take her if I had one wish,
But she's been gone since that summer..."

Remember, your local HPB has a huge selection of vinyl and CD that are perfect for summer fun. What's on your summertime playlist?


Sam is Public Relations Coordinator at Half Price Books Corporate.


Local Store Events Round-Up: July 2014

Local Store Events Round-Up: July 2014

Looking for something to do at your favorite book store? Check out these fun happenings at Half Price Books stores across the country during the month of July! 


Summer Reading Program

Research shows that children who do not continue reading through the summer can lose a month or more of progress made during the school year. To help keep appetites up for reading, Half Price Books is hosting the FEED YOUR BRAIN® Summer Reading Program now through Thursday, July 31, 2014. Kids ages 14 and under can earn $5 HPB Bookworm Bucks as a reward for reading over the summer. Pick up a reading log at your local HPB today. Get started and learn more about Top Reader Prizes.



Storytime Sundays

Pack up your half-pint readers and come to your Mesa HPB for Storytime Sundays. Sit down and enjoy a good tale with us from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. on the first Sunday of each month. See you July 6!

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Books Authors Read with Kathleen Kent

We continue our "Books Authors Read" series with Kathleen Kent. Kathleen is the author of three best-selling novels, The Heretic’s Daughter, The Traitor’s Wife, and The Outcasts, which was the recipient of the American Library Association’s 2014 top choice for Historical Fiction.  She was also awarded the David J. Langum Sr. award for American historical fiction. (Not too shabby!) Enjoy some of Kathleen’s favorite reads! – Emily

   Growing up in Texas, I was always fascinated with books of Western lore.  Whereas a lot of my childhood friends were reading Nancy Drew and National Velvet, I loved the more adventurous and dangerous novels by Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey, and the stories of J. Frank Dobie.  As I got older, two of my favorite authors became Larry McMurtry and Cormac McCarthy.   Their Lonesome Dove and Border Trilogy became classics of the genre.  Recently, I’ve read some novels and one non-fiction book that carry the spirit of the Western myth in their teeth.  Some of these are:

1)    The Thicket, by Joe Lansdale. One of my favorite reads of last year.  Set in East Texas at the turn of the century, a young Jack Parker is orphaned through a string of tragic events.  His lot is further worsened by being set upon by a group of bank robbers who kill his grandfather and kidnap his younger sister, Lula.  Jack’s search to recover his sister is aided by a charismatic, bounty hunting dwarf named Shorty and his crew.  In Lansdale’s capable hands, East Texas is painted as a wild and untamed place, inhabited with rich, complex characters, by turns dark and funny.  I especially loved the tale-telling Shorty, recognizing in his mannerisms and speech the authentic expressions of the true sons and daughters of the Big Thicket.

You can visit him online or follow him on Twitter at @joelansdale.

2)    In the Rogue Blood, by James Carlos Blake.  Written in gorgeous prose, this book is set in the 1840’s during the Mexican War.  Two brothers, Edward and John Little, one fighting for Mexico, the other fighting as a scout for the United States, traverse a world in where the rules of survival are simple: kill or be killed.  In the vein of Blood Meridian, this book is dark, violent and at times bleak.  This is not a feel good Western, but a portrait of a country inhabited by brutal men and set upon women, with brief flashes of compassion and humanity, which is surely an accurate accounting of how the West was won.

3)    Little Century, by Anna Keesey.   Like the best of Westerns, this novel begins with an escalating conflict: the violent war over water and rangeland in Oregon.  Another orphan, eighteen-year-old Esther Chambers travels west in search of her only living relative. In the lawless town of Century, she’s met by a distant cousin, a cattle rancher named Ferris Pickett.  She begins a new life as a homesteader, in the hope that her land will one day join Pick’s impressive spread.   As incidents between the sheep and cattle ranchers turn to bloodshed, Esther’s sympathies are divided between her cousin and a sheepherder named Ben Cruff, sworn enemy of the cattlemen.

Here’s what I said on the book jacket cover:  “Little Century is rich and true and achingly beautiful. Its heroine, Esther Chambers, is the kind found in the best classic literature: an innocent caught against the backdrop of escalating violence whose essential goodness and loyalty shine through the savagery around her.”

You can visit her online or follow her on Twitter at @AnnaKessey.

4)    Spirit of Steamboat, by Craig Johnson.  Part of the Walt Longmire series, this book is a bit of a departure from the previous books, as it’s a shorter novella, and a bit of a “Ghost of Christmas Past” remembrance for the sheriff.   The story takes Walt back to Christmas Eve 1988, and a record-breaking Montana blizzard where three people die in a terrible crash.  In the accident a young girl is injured and may die unless she can be transported to a hospital via a broken down WWII transport plane, flown, of course, by a whiskey-sodden, broken down old WWII pilot.  A modern Western, this book has suspense, killing elements, and good guys waiting to be resurrected from their own character flaws to save the day.

You can visit him online or follow him at @ucrosspop25

5)    The Gates of the Alamo, by Stephen Harrigan.  Suspenseful, beautifully written, extensively researched, this is my favorite of the Alamo retellings.   The characters of that seminal drama, on both sides of the conflct---Bowie, Crockett, Travis, Austin, Santa Anna, Telesforo Villaseñor---are given depth and new energy in Harrigan’s book.  His landscape descriptions, as well as the recounting of the battles and the final siege, are breathtaking, exciting, poignant and memorable.

You can visit him online her or follow him on Twitter at @stephenharrigan.


Kathleen Kent is the author of n The Heretic’s Daughter, The Traitor’s Wife, and The Outcasts.

You may visit her online or follow her on Twitter at @kathleenkent214.


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