Pocket Paperbacks: You Can Judge a Book by Its Cover (Rarest of Rare Collectibles)

Pocket paperbacks have always been a large segment of HPB’s product mix, but we’re seeing fewer of them now, as much genre fiction has migrated into electronic delivery modes. But we still devote considerable store space to them, and we still find a place for collectible PBs from the mid-twentieth century.

Paperbacks were first popularized in England by Penguin Books, which issued its first ten titles simultaneously in 1935. Mass-market PBs were introduced in America on a large scale by Pocket Books in 1939. Many other publishers followed, and this affordable, handy form of reading material has been bought for convenience and thrift ever since.

There’s a reason pocket-sized paperbacks are called “mass-market”—they were created as an alternative to the hardcover editions the “masses” couldn’t always afford. They were generally cheaply made and weren’t really meant to last a long time. But some have indeed lasted and are still eagerly sought, primarily for their cover art that so thrillingly reflects the pop culture of its time.

We’d like to present some fine examples being offered by three of our stores, the South Lamar location in Austin, Texas, the Countryside, Illinois location, and the Dallas Flagship location in Texas.

Death on Scurvy Street by Ben Ames Williams
Popular Library #194, 1949
Mysteries in the lurid-cover, murder-and-sex pulp fiction PB form are mainstays of fans’ collections. This minor 1929 mystery by prolific author Ben Ames Williams was resurrected and hyperbolized in this late-forties paperback edition. If this cover by Rudolph Belarski doesn’t lure you in, maybe the cover blurb will: “She waited for love and got murder.”


First Paperback Printing. Very Good +, $12

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If You Like Me Before You, You May Also Like…

Me-Before-You-Jojo-MoyesIf you are part of the HPB Book Club, you are currently reading or perhaps just finished Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes, which is a book all hopeless romantics must read. At the beginning of the book, gregarious waitress Louisa Clark loses her job, and being one of the only working members of her family, she needs to find a new job fast. The problem is she isn’t really trained to do anything. Enter Will Traynor. After an accident left Will paralyzed, his family needs to find a caregiver for him, but they are not looking for someone who will look after his physical needs as much as they need someone to show him that his life is still worth living. Louisa Clark seems perfect for this. However, as Will and Louisa’s relationship grows, she discovers Will has a secret, and her job turns out to have greater consequences than she ever imagined. Me Before You is a book that will make you laugh, cry and just maybe plan a trip to Paris. Continue reading

Video Games of Yore

Half Price Books has lots of dedicated video game-buying customers, so we want to salute them with a stroll through some collectible games from ancient history (the 90s). The Buy Guy isn’t much of a video gamer—I must admit I’ve never actually played one. So I’ve recruited a resident gamer, Customer Care Specialist Jeremy, to offer some comments on some of the video game gems that have turned up recently in our stores. Put that controller down and help us out here, Jeremy!

OK, Buy Guy! Let’s start with a classic that is being offered by our Highland Park store in the Chicago area: Mega Man 4 (1991)


System: NES. Original packaging, black NES game sleeve, and instructions included. $40.

Despite being the fourth game in a long-standing series, Mega Man 4 features some notable firsts for fans to enjoy. It’s the first appearance of Mega Man’s Mega Buster, a new default weapon that can be charged for a more powerful blast. A new villain, Dr. Cossack, takes the place of the infamous Dr. Wily from the first three games in the series. Continue reading

Local Store Events Round-Up: July 2016


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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 – Sunday, July 31, 2016. Kids preschool through high school age can earn $5 HPB Bookworm Bucks as a reward for reading over the summer. Learn more.

Harry Potter Midnight Release Party!
Join us at participating Half Price Books locations on Saturday night, July 30, to get the latest in the Harry Potter story. Celebrate with fellow Potterheads and grab the new book Harry Potter and the Cursed Child when it goes on sale at midnight. **Passes available beginning at 10 p.m.** Pass required for book purchase. Limit two passes per customer, one book per pass. Books available for purchase as specially-priced new items while supplies last. No pre-orders. Check with your local HPB store to see when the party starts. Midnight Release Party at select HPB stores. Click here to find the store nearest you.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Book Release!
Harry Potter fans mark your calendars for Sunday, July 31 and rejoice! All Half Price Books retail stores are celebrating the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts I & II with a Harry Potter Birthday Party. Copies of the *Special Rehearsal Edition Script* by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne will be available for purchase as specially-priced new items while supplies last. Continue reading

Books Can Take You Places: Berlin

Already this year, we’ve taken a trip 8 different cities and our journey around the world is far from over!  This month let’s explore all that Berlin, Germany has to offer.

Known for its cultural institutions and trendsetting old-meets-new atmosphere, Berlin has been a destination for writers and other artists for hundreds of years. The list of creative types with a “Berlin era” in their biography includes writers Franz Kafka and Vladimir Nabokov as well as rock musician David Bowie, who famously described 1970s-era Berlin as “the greatest cultural extravaganza that one could imagine.”

BerlinVisitors raised on decades of spy films and John le Carré novels may envision Berlin as a cold, uninviting labyrinth of concrete and razor wire with sinister Stasi operatives and KGB agents lurking around every corner. But even though elements of the city’s Cold War past remain (and can be viewed in places like the East Side Gallery and Checkpoint Charlie), Berlin bears much more in common with other European cities than you might expect.

Upon arrival, my companions and I instantly made a beeline for the nearest café, where we sat drinking beer alongside cobblestone streets and soaking in the simple pleasure of people watching on a warm summer day. Later that afternoon we toured a Baroque palace at Schloss Charlottenburg, discovered the marvels of döner kebab (a popular form of Turkish rotisserie sold by street vendors and small shops all across Western Europe), and staggered a few kilometers back to the hotel after a rowdy night out at a biergarten in the Tiergarten. You may begin to detect a theme here. Continue reading

Midnight Release Events: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child


Can’t wait until morning?  Join us at participating Half Price Books locations on Saturday night, July 30, to get the latest in the Harry Potter story. Celebrate with fellow Potterheads and grab the new book Harry Potter and the Cursed Child when it goes on sale at midnight. **Passes available beginning at 10 p.m.** Pass required for book purchase. Limit two passes per customer, one book per pass. Books available for purchase as specially-priced new items while supplies last. No pre-orders. Check with your local HPB store to see when the party starts. Midnight Release Party at select HPB stores.



2036 Shattuck Ave.

39152 Fremont Hub

1935 Mt Diablo St.

7898 Dublin Blvd.

7975 Greenback Ln.

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A Grown-up Who Grew Up With Harry Potter

I was a junior in college when the first Harry Potter book was released. Needless to say, the series was not on my radar then, and it remained stealthily outside those bounds until I began substitute teaching after college. That’s when I first saw 12 and 13-year old children toting around the same book.

I finally asked, “What are you all reading?”

I got the definitive answer, “Oh! YOU HAVE GOT TO READ THESE BOOKS!”


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A Dog’s-Eye View: HPB Celebrates Take Your Dog to Work Day

Hi there, I’m Sophie. I’m an 8-year old black and tan miniature dachshund who loves books! You might remember me from occasional appearances on the HPB Instagram and HPB Blog. I’m here to talk about the best day of the year, Take Your Dog to Work Day, which is happening today, Friday, June 24th.

Since my dad works at Half Price Books, every day is Take Your Dog to Work Day! Okay, so he doesn’t bring me every day, but I do get to explore all the books from time to time. So many smells!

Luckily, Dad brought me to work today, so I get to wander around the big bookstore. I think they call it…Flagship? Seems like a weird name to me, but they have dog treats, so I’m not complaining.

Alrighty, let’s get the day started! What can I do to help? Greet customers, take books back to their shelves…I’m ready to work!


Wait, what’s this? A desk! No, Dad, I’m bored!

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Q&A w/ Allison Amend: Inside Enchanted Islands

In Enchanted Islands, we have the immense pleasure of meeting Frances Conway, a smart, independent and endearing woman. Frances tells her story from many stages of life – like when she was a child to when she was a teenager on the run with her best friend, Rosalie. All of that leads up to the most fascinating time of her life, when she is in her 50s and moves to the Galápagos Islands for a very unique reason. It’s so interesting to read about her life on the islands and how she survived with very little. Throughout the story, it begins to feel like Frances is your best friend telling you the story of her life. It’s charming and funny at times, while still resonating the seriousness of the situation – a world on the brink of World War II. I highly recommend this book for fellow lovers of historical fiction.

Can’t wait to read Enchanted Islands? Pick up a copy at your local HPB. Plus, enter to win our Chatterbox giveaway featuring Enchanted Islands, sweet summer swag and a $25 HPB Gift Card over on Twitter.

Allison Amend, author of Enchanted Islands, shared her thoughts and experiences while writing her new novel.


What brought you to Frances Conway’s voice, and how did you discover her?
I was doing some reading on the Galápagos Islands with the idea of possibly setting a book there (mostly because I wanted to visit the islands), and I came across Frances’ memoirs in a list of first-person historical accounts. They’re out of print; I had to order them off the Internet. I immediately fell in love with Fanny’s voice. She’s funny and self-deprecating, witty and an excellent writer. But she also left a lot out of her memoirs, such as any convincing explanation of why she came to the islands, or what her life was like before this journey, which had me wondering what she was hiding. Of course the gaps that history leaves is fertile ground for fiction. From there, my imagination took over, and her voice was imprinted on my mind so that she simply continued speaking on the page. Continue reading

Stories at the Speed of Life

James Patterson has just released a series of books called BookShots, which are a variety of books approximately 100-150 pages long that the average booklover should be able to finish in just a few hours. Excited? I was. Being a busy booklover, I know the frustration of having to set down a good book because real life intrudes, but with these BookShots I was able to read a good story from cover to cover during one sitting. (Actually, there were three of them, so three sittings.)  The only problem was that when I was finished, I was ready for more.

Cross Kill, by James Patterson was the first BookShot I read.  In only 113 pages, the reader is launched into an impossible mystery, as Alex Cross investigates the shooting of his own partner, John Sampson. However, all evidence leads to a man that Cross watched die more than ten years ago, Gary Soneji. Has Soneji risen from the grave?  Will Sampson survive?  Will Cross?  I’m not going to tell you—just know that nothing will prepare you for the end of this book. Continue reading