The Birth of Half Price Books

In 1972, we opened our first store in a converted laundromat in Dallas, Texas. Co-founders Ken Gjemre and Pat Anderson stocked the store with more than 2,000 books from their personal libraries.

In 1999, Ken wrote, “The thing I am most proud of is Half Price Books. It was way more than a business — it embodied everything one could ask for in an enterprise. It had the benefit of continuity; we did it every day. Every day we made a whole bunch of people happy; we did good work every single day. In many ways it was a ‘waste not’ kind of operation, much as my father had always personified.”


“Both Pat and I were bibliophiles,” Ken wrote. “I had a personal library of 5,000 books and Pat read a book a day or more. The thought of having a bookstore excited us both.” 



“People started buying up the books as fast as I could get them on the shelves,” Ken wrote. “Half Price Books opened on a Thursday with $140 in the bank, and by the end of that weekend, we had done enough business to pay our employees. By August, we had already begun planning our second location as our first was already too small.”  

Now that we’ve heard from Ken, let’s hear from Pat, in her own words:   

 Here’s to 40 more. Happy birthday, HPB :) 

— Kristen D. 

2 thoughts on “The Birth of Half Price Books

  1. I've been in love with HPB since I arrived in Dallas way back in 1974. Thanks for the photo of the first store on Lovers Lane that I never got to visit. I've always wondered about it. Now, I have some historic continuity. One of my top reasons for wanting to live in the Dallas area is the many HPB in the Metroplex and the fantastic flagship store. I couldn't live without your books and I refuse to pay for a brand new book. Besides, books should never be destroyed…. they should have new lives with new owners. Please get a dog for your Plano store.Thanks for all you do. Cynthia

  2. HPB is the best bookseller around, period. We have one in arlington, about a mile from our house. We spend a lot of time there.I do wish I could get hired there, I have always loved books, especially old ones. I would love to work in a book store.

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