Local Store Events Round-Up: August 2015

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The Day the Crayons Came Home Storytime
Your HPB Bibliomaniacs are super-excited for the release of Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers’ The Day the Crayons Came Home on August 18. Your neighborhood HPB is planning a special storytime on Sunday, August 23 at 3 p.m. featuring this sequel to the bestseller The Day the Crayons Quit. We’ll have crayons (they came back!) and special coloring sheets featuring Oliver Jeffers’ whimsical art. All ages are welcome.

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5 Movie Remakes That Are Better Than The Originals

July 29 marks the return of Rusty Griswold in the “sequel” or “reboot” of one of the funniest films ever made, National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983). With so many remakes these days, it made me wonder if a film this classic should be remade? After seeing the recent releases of Godzilla and Poltergeist, my initial thought was absolutely not. But, after giving it some thought, there have been many remakes that I have thoroughly enjoyed and actually thought were an improvement on the original. So maybe there is some hope for Vacation (2015). Here are my top 5 movie remakes that worked!

The Birdcage (1996)

A remake of the French comedy La Cage aux Folles stars Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. Those two names alone should justify this as a must see, but add in the fact you get to see Gene Hackman in drag  makes this a classic remake.


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Different Stores. Different Stories. #HPBturns43

Today, Half Price Books turns 43 years old! On July 27, 1972, we opened our first store in a converted laundromat in Dallas, Texas. Co-founders Ken Gjemre and Pat Anderson stocked the shelves with more than 2,000 books from their personal libraries. Today, Half Price Books is America’s favorite family-owned new and used bookstore chain, with 122 stores in 16 states.

This year has been a busy one, no doubt. We opened our new Las Colinas store in Irving, TX, relocated our much-loved Richardson, TX, store to a revitalized shopping center and ventured into a new market with our latest store in Citrus Heights, California! Things are about to get even more exciting on August 6 in the Columbus, OH area, as we welcome HPB NorthPointe Plaza to the neighborhood.

Just like our booklovers, every store is different and has its own set of unique stories and quirks. To celebrate our birthday, I thought it would be nice to share some of my favorite HPB stories.

Did you know our President and CEO Sharon Anderson Wright was the first employee at Half Price Books? She is the daughter of co-founder Pat Anderson. Sharon managed the Richardson store location and would take her dog Dylan to work with her each day. Even today, many of our store locations are dog-friendly. If you ever visit our corporate offices in Dallas, Texas, you’ll be greeted by Vader at the reception desk.

While most booklovers come through our doors looking for the perfect read, some have been lucky enough to find the perfect love here as well!

Our Flagship store was the backdrop for Brady and Nichole’s grand proposal during Valentine’s Day weekend. We’ve also been a special once-in-a-lifetime wedding venue for booklover Jenny and her handsome groom.

Last, one of my favorite HPB stories of all! Jammie, (my “cube”-mate….our offices share a wall), began her Half Price Books story working at the Lincoln Square store in Arlington. Aaron, her now husband, had just started working there, as well. The two became fast friends, and, a year later began dating. Below is their first photo together as a new couple, ironically at a Half Price Books holiday gathering! The happy couple has added a new chapter to their HPB story…an adorable son named Malcolm.

What are some of your favorite Half Price Books stories or memories? Tell us your story by mentioning @halfpricebooks and using #HPBturns43 on Twitter. You can also jump over to Facebook and leave a comment on our birthday post.

Sam is Public Relations Coordinator at Half Price Books Corporate.

An Afternoon at the Paper Towns Tour

The Paper Towns Tour made a stop in our hometown of Dallas last week, and thanks to our friends at the Penguin Young Readers Group, I got to attend!

People waited in line ALL DAY in the hot Texas sun for the opportunity to get inside and hear from their favorite author, John Green.

Look at all the people! To see an author! My faith in humanity is restored.

The festivities were hosted by Allison Raskin and Gaby Dunn, the YouTube duo Just Between Us.


Allison and Gaby introduced Saint Motel, whose song, “My Type,” is on the Paper Towns soundtrack.

And then it was the moment everyone had been waiting for… John Green!

As you can tell from this video, people LOST THEIR MINDS. (And rightly so, he’s great!)

After talking to the crowd for a bit, John informed everyone we were going to get to see twenty minutes of the movie! I have no pictures of this because I’m pretty sure I would have been taken straight to jail if I had tried.

Following the movie clip (if you can call twenty minutes of something a clip), stars of the movie Nat Wolff and Halston Sage joined John on stage to take questions from the crowd. Cara Delevingne had been at the other Paper Towns Tour stops but didn’t make it to Dallas because she had to make an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon that night. (Which seems like a pretty great reason to miss something.)


After the event was over, we got the opportunity to head backstage and meet John, Nat and Halston, who were all lovely and delightful people.

So what I’m trying to say with all of this is John Green is awesome, Paper Towns the book is awesome and Paper Towns the movie looks to be awesome. If you haven’t read the book, we have SIGNED copies at our Dallas Flagship location right now. Stop by or give them a call to get one before they are gone. And go see Paper Towns the movie today!


Long-Lost Wartime Illustrations by Dr. Seuss (Rarest of Rare Collectibles)

Like another long-lost literary classic published earlier this month (Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee), the new What Pet Should I Get? was written in the late ’50s by an author loved by millions of all ages –– Theodore Seuss Geisel, better known by his fans as Dr. Seuss. We will have copies of this Dr. Seuss discovery in HPB stores when it’s released to the public on July 28. But we wanted to take this opportunity to show-and-tell about a real Dr. Seuss World War II-era treasure, This Is Ann. This booklet was a wartime publication of the U.S. Government Printing Office and was illustrated by Dr. Seuss.


This Is Ann: She’s Dying to Meet You, by Dr. Seuss
U.S. Government Printing Office, 1943

This 38-page pamphlet was issued to U.S. soldiers during World War II to warn them of the threat of “Ann”—the anopheles mosquito that carried malaria. Many were distributed but few have survived. It’s especially rare to find a complete copy in Very Good condition like this one. The text was written by kids’ book author and illustrator Munro Leaf, who is best known for his children’s classic The Story of Ferdinand.

Our Flagship store in Dallas recently got hold of this rare gem, and they are asking $750 for it. If you’re interested in buying this rarest of rare collectible, visit HPB.com/buyguy and contact me, the HPB Buy Guy.


Here are a few little-known facts about Dr. Seuss:

No credit for This is Ann — Dr. Seuss was Captain Theodore Geisel at the time he co-created This Is Ann, so neither he nor author Leaf, who was also serving in the military, received credit in the pamphlet.

Bestseller lists across decades — Only a few authors have ever topped the both New York Times Fiction and Nonfiction Bestseller Lists. The last Dr. Seuss book published during his lifetime, Oh! The Places You’ll Go!, topped the Fiction list in 1990.

Not a fan of Dick & Jane — Dr Seuss said that The Cat in the Hat was “the book I’m proudest of because it had something to do with the death of the Dick and Jane primers.”


Steve is Staffing & Development Manager (aka the “Buy Guy“) at Half Price Books Corporate.

Embrace Your Geekness: HPB Reviews Armada by Ernest Cline

Personal disclaimer: I was an elementary and middle school aged kid during that golden decade we call the ’80s. This was a time when girls and boys played arcade games, watched a lot of cartoons and played with the same toys. We ate sugary cereal, wore Mork from Ork suspenders, feathered our hair and (seriously) were all considered really cool.

Which brings me to Ernest Cline.

I read his first bestseller, Ready Player One, earlier this spring when I heard all the buzz about the upcoming release, Armada. It was everything I loved about mid-’80s cinema, games, music and culture, and I decided that if Ernie Cline is writing it, I am on board.

Cline’s second novel, Armada, comes out tomorrow, and it hopes to answer the age-old question, what if your video game obsession is training you to LITERALLY save the world? In the near-future, teenager Zack Lightman, a gaming aficionado who just wants to graduate high school, soon realizes that he and other elite gamers might hold the keys to saving the planet against alien forces.

Armada reads like every ’80s video game geek adventure movie, and that’s not entirely a bad thing. It lacks a bit of the “wow” factor after the ingenious. Ready Player One, but it is no less adventuresome. Cline truly is an encyclopedia of video-gaming culture, not to mention his reaches into the depths of ’80s kid’s cinema. Just like with RPO, you can practically see the movie playing while you read. He also strategically places a complete ready-for-mixtape playlist headlined by Queen’s “One Vision”. BTW, Warner Bros. purchased the rights to Ready Player One and some unknown named Steven Spielberg, will direct. Universal Pictures grabbed the rights to Armada all the way back in December.

The thirty and forty-year old set who hung out at arcades and rushed to theaters to watch any movie with “Star”, “War”,“Games” or “Fighter” in the title will feel whisked back into their local mall movie theater at the over-the-top action, righteous references to all-things-’80s once in again in Cline’s newest book. It’s a great read for teens (with some language warnings) who are really into gaming and retro-culture and they will be screaming for the movie releases in the next couple of years. Expect a lot of fan art and fan fiction to evolve, because that’s what the kids do these days, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some video game spin-offs as well. We’ll be hearing a lot more from Ernie Cline in the future, and if you are lucky enough to be in the area, you can catch him in Richardson, Texas as Half Price Books and Alamo Drafthouse partner to present An Evening with Ernie Cline Monday, July 27, at 7 p.m.

Look for copies of Armada at your favorite Half Price Books with our specially-priced brand new releases and hot bestsellers!

14 Things You Should Know About Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird

As we anxiously await the release of Harper Lee’s second novel, Go Set a Watchman, we shouldn’t forget that 55 years ago on July 11th, Harper Lee’s first novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, was published. While critics may not have raved about the book when it first came out, the novel, published right before the peak of the American civil rights movement, became a phenomenal success, selling more than fifteen million copies and winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. It was then made into a movie shortly afterward in 1962. Since the book was published, To Kill a Mockingbird has topped must-read book lists, and the movie version of the book ranks 25th on the American Film Institute’s (AFI) list of Greatest American Movies of All Time.

I have gathered 14 interesting facts about Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird, (both the book and the movie). I wonder how many you will already know and how many will be new to you.

  1. The author Nelle Harper Lee and Truman Capote were next-door neighbors in their hometown of Monroeville, AL. The character of Dill is said to be based on Capote.
  2. Lee said she identified with Jane Austen, because she wanted to challenge social norms and customs.
  3. Lee’s mother’s maiden name was Finch.
  4. A man named Son Boulware lived down the road from Lee and Capote and used to hide presents for them in the trees around his house.
  5. Atticus was loosely based on Lee’s father, who retired from the practice of criminal law after defending a group of black men who were accused of murder.  He lost the case, turning his attention to reporting the news instead.
  6. The book that Scout tells her father about, The Gray Ghost, was a real children’s book by Robert F. Schulkers—part of a series of adventure titles in the 1920s that Lee read when she was young.
  7. Lee is an honorary member of the Alabama Bar on the basis that in creating Atticus, she created an exemplary lawyer.
  8. Go Set a Watchman was written before To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee’s editor was so intrigued by a flashback in Go Set a Watchman that encouraged her to write a book from the child’s point of view.
  9. To Kill a Mockingbird is Clark Kent’s favorite movie in the Superman Comics.
  10. Gregory Peck won his first and only Academy Award in 1963 for his role as Atticus Finch.
  11. To prepare for the role of Boo Radley, Robert Duvall spent six weeks out of the sun so he would look like someone who had spent most of his life indoors.
  12. After the film was completed, Lee gave Gregory Peck her father’s watch, because she said he reminded her so much of her father. Peck wore this to the Academy Awards.
  13. Brock Peters, the actor who portrayed Tom Robinson, delivered Peck’s eulogy on the day of his funeral, June 16, 2003.
  14. Peck’s grandson Harper Peck Voll is named after Harper Lee.

So, how many of these facts did you already know?

The HPB Book Club is currently reading To Kill a Mockingbird.  If you would like to chat with fellow HPB Book Clubbers, visit hpb.com/bookclub/fb and join the conversation.

Plus, look for Go Set A Watchman at your local Half Price Books on July 14!

Julie is Traffic Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.
You may follow her on Twitter at @auntjewey.

Rare & Collectible Editions of To Kill a Mockingbird

Interest in the classic Harper Lee novel To Kill a Mockingbird has not waned over the fifty-five years since its initial publication. And it’s sure to spike with today’s release of her long-tucked-away second book, Go Set a Watchman.

We’ve seen very few first editions of To Kill a Mockingbird at our stores over the years, but we’ve bought and sold thousands of copies of various paperback and hardback editions, and a few of them are collectible.

Of the book’s many fans, few are willing and able to spend the $15 grand or so it would take to buy a true first edition, but the first’s priciness make some other editions collectible—while much more affordable.

Recently, one of our stores bought three copies, from the estate of a book dealer, of the 35th Anniversary Edition of Mockingbird, all signed by Harper Lee. They were “only” $1,000 each. The store sold all three copies in one day!

Later printings of the first edition are not the Holy Grail of Harper Lee, but close enough to it to have value. Here’s a 17th printing, available at the Dallas Flagship store for $250.

The slipcased 2006 edition is another affordable but special edition of the book. This copy is priced $70 at our Arlington Lincoln Square store.

Even the earliest book club editions of this treasure have some collectible value. This book club edition features a photo of the author, taken by her childhood pal Truman Capote. Lee requested that the photo be removed from later editions.

So, if you want to own a copy of this classic book to go with your brand new copy of Go Set a Watchman, you can pay the big bucks and get a first edition, you can buy a nice, clean paperback reading copy for a few bucks or you can settle for something in between that will grace your bookshelves. Any way you go, you’ll own a piece of American literary history that will be loved for generations to come.

Steve is Staffing & Development Manager (aka the “Buy Guy“) at Half Price Books Corporate.

What High School Students are Reading this Summer!

We’re just over halfway through our Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program! This year, we also encouraged high school students to read one book each month and fill out an online review. We received almost 1,500 reviews for the month of June alone! With your help, we hope to beat this number in July. There’s still plenty of time for students to read a book and submit a review. We’ll even send you a coupon!

Here is what some of our High School reviewers are saying.

The Blood of Olympus is so good, I don’t even know where to begin. Everything was resolved beautifully, and it was full of action and laughter for me. I just wish I could follow the Seven for the rest of their lives. (Including Nico and Leo. Especially Nico and Leo.) If you haven’t read this already because you’re afraid of finishing the series and having nothing meaningful in your life anymore, I suggest you read this, finish the series, and start the whole series all over again. Unless you need a break from Rick Riordan and his awesome demigods, but I doubt it.”

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken was an amazing book filled with tons of action and romance along with some of the best character development I have seen in a while! This book had me hooked from page one and kept me hooked throughout the whole book! The story of how Ruby embraces who she is and what she can do is inspiring and so much fun to read!

The [Divergent] series was riveting and definitely a page-turner! I loved being able to cheer on the main character, Beatrice, one second, and cry with her the next. You can immerse yourself into the novels and forget about the world around you. The series takes you on an adventure and you’ll love every second of it!

We made several reading suggestions for readers at the start of the summer, and Veronica Roth’s Divergent series has far and away been the most popular choice of those books featured. Here are some of the other books students are reading.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Th1rteen R3asons Why by Jay Asher
A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Thanks again to everyone who have participated in our Summer Reading program. There’s still time to read in July. High school students, visit HPB.com/FYB to submit your own review. You might make it into next month’s blog!

Jeremy is Customer Service Specialist at HPB Corporate

AT40 Turns 45: A Look Back at the American Top 40

This Saturday, the United States of America turns 239 years young. What’s a Fourth of July celebration without food, fireworks and a little funky music?

Another American institution celebrating its birthday on Independence Day is the American Top 40 radio countdown program. 45 years ago, way back in 1970, legendary DJ Casey Kasem took to the airwaves, ranking America’s chart-topping radio hits. Since then, the show has survived a few new hosts, an evolving radio landscape and ever-changing musical styles. Let’s take a look back over the years…

Did you know?

  • The original Casey Kasem-hosted show only lasted until 1988. Shadoe Stevens took over from 1988-1995, upon which the show was cancelled. AT40 was relaunched in 1998 with Kasem, who continued hosting until his retirement in 2004, when he passed the headphones to Ryan Seacrest.
  • The first song ever played on AT40 was “The End of Our Road” by Marvin Gaye, which peaked at #40.
  • Casey Kasem’s final #1 song in 2004 was “Hey Ya!” by Outkast. This was also Ryan Seacrest’s first #1 song.
  • The youngest artist to chart on AT40 is Willow Smith, whose “Whip My Hair” debuted at #35, while she was age 10. (She was 9 when the song was recorded.)
  • The oldest artist to chart on AT40 is Louis Armstrong. “What a Wonderful World” entered at #32 in 1988, at which time Armstrong would have been 86 (it was recorded when he was 66).
  • The longest-charting song on AT40 is Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite,” which stayed on the charts for 72 weeks from 2010-2011.
  • The current #1 hit, “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth, matched Katy Perry’s “Roar” by taking just five weeks to get to #1—the quickest of any song in the 21st century.

Best of the Decades

  • #1 song of the 1980s: “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John
  • #1 song of the 2000s: “Yeah!” by Usher featuring Ludacris & Lil Jon

Need some tunes for the holiday weekend? Here’s a handy AT40 playlist to keep the grooves flowing all weekend long.

Jason is Email Marketing Coordinator at Half Price Books Corporate.
You can follow him on Twitter @jasonapermenter.