First Edition Banned Books (Rarest of Rare Collectibles)


In honor of Banned Books Awareness Week 2015, we present a couple of classic literary works that not only are among the most sought-after first editions but also among the books most often considered dangerous and offensive.

rare-CatcherIntheRyeThe Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
First Printing, Little, Brown & Co., 1951

J.D. Salinger’s first book has remained a popular and critical favorite since it was published, appearing near the top of the “greatest American literature” lists of Time, Modern Library, and many other listmakers. Many school districts and libraries have restricted or banned it for profanity, sexual references, and other reasons. It’s been a particular favorite of high-schoolers, which is why it so often has been the center of censorship attempts.

Our St. Paul, Minnesota store has this treasure. It is a first edition, so stated on the copyright page. It is a very nice copy, priced at $4,000, with minor chipping to the dust jacket, minimal browning at the edges, and an owner’s signature on the front free endpaper.

rare-SlaughterHouse5Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade, by Kurt Vonnegut
First Printing, Delacorte, 1969

Kurt Vonnegut based his 1969 novel Slaughterhouse-Five on his own experiences in Germany as a soldier in World War II. It’s been banned many times and has once even been burned (in Drake, ND, in 1973).

This book resides at our Northtown store in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. It is a first printing, and the original price of $5.95 is present on the unclipped dust jacket. Northtown’s price, $450, takes into account some minor flaws, primarily the slightly scuffed and browned dust jacket. But you can see from the photos that the dust jacket is overall in Very Good condition, with no tears or chips. The book is solid and tight.

Our Minnesota district was lucky enough to land these two first editions in a collection they bought—an exceptional assortment of modern first editions that included a roll call of oft-banned classics: Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead; Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and For Whom the Bell Tolls; Wright’s Native Son; Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath; Heller’s Catch-22; Nabokov’s Lolita; Burroughs’ Naked Lunch; and Tropic of Cancer and several other Henry Miller firsts. It was certainly an outstanding acquisition!

Rarely-Known Trivia

Another Caulfield—It is believed that Salinger named Catcher’s main character Holden Caulfield after favorite actress Joan Caulfield.

First Book—Our stores occasionally see copies of The Kit Book for Soldiers, Sailors and Marines, which includes Salinger’s first appearance in a book, his story “The Hang of It.” The Kit Book was issued to military personnel in 1942 and 1943.

Peacenik?—Although some Vonnegut novels, including Slaughterhouse-Five, feature the horrors of war as a theme, Vonnegut has admitted to some ambivalence about pacifism. He was awarded a Purple Heart for his service in WWII.

If you’re interested in buying either of these rarest of rare collectibles, visit and contact me, the HPB Buy Guy.

From Atari to Xbox: Get Cash for Your Used Electronics!

At HPB, we’re all about lifecycles. Every day, our loyal customers buy books, music, movies and more, and when they’re ready to make space for something new (to them, at least!), they visit their local HPB to sell that great merch back to us for cash. Books, music, movies, etc., are our bread-and-butter, but, did you know HPB is also a great stop for buying and selling used electronics?
Yes, you read that right! Bring us your deregistered electronic device, along with any required components that go with it, and we’ll hand over some cold, hard CA$H! Want more details? The HPB Buy Guy has all the specifics. Come in store today to find out what your iPhone 5s or xBox 360 is worth.

Of course, iPhones and Xboxes aren’t the only devices we accept. Why don’t we examine some of the more…intriguing treasures we’d love to see in our stores?
Magnavox Odyssey (1972)
As you may know, 1972 is a special year for us. The Magnavox Odyssey, the first home video game console, was released in August of that year, just a month after the first Half Price Books store opened!
Due to the graphical limitations of the time, games for the Magnavox Odyssey required a transparent overlay – almost like the layout of a board game – to be placed on your TV screen. In fact, these overlays were specially formatted only for 18 and 25 inch TV screens. The Odyssey may look archaic by today’s standards, but all things have to start somewhere!

NEO GEO (1990)
The Neo Geo was released at a time when arcades were everywhere, and featured games too advanced to be properly ported to home consoles. Video game developer SNK attempted something radical with the NEO GEO: create a system that perfectly mirrored their arcade games. Instead of dropping quarter after quarter at the arcade, you and your friends could have the same experience at home without all the body odor and hair metal blasting over the PA.
There was one problem: the price. The starter package – console, two controllers, and one game – debuted at $650 dollars. Adjusting for inflation, that comes to $1,139! The price of a single game could be as high as $200. In 1991, you could buy a Super Nintendo for the price of one NEO GEO game!
Needless to say, you can now acquire this system and many of its games for a comparatively lower price.

Atari Jaguar (1993)
Atari’s final console system, the Jaguar, was technologically superior to most systems on the market in the early ‘90s, but for a multitude of reasons, it never made much of an impression with the public.
The Jaguar was – and still is – sought after for a few select games that only appeared on this system, most notably Alien vs. Predator, one of the first games based on the Alien and Predator movie franchises. The graphics may seem dated now, but Alien vs. Predator for the Jaguar still regularly appears on many “Scariest Video Games of All Time” lists.
What do you think? Still scary?

NES-101 (1993)
Despite being one of the most popular game consoles of all time, the NES had one significant problem: the front-loading, spring-mounted cartridge slot. After several years of wear and tear, most NES consoles would have trouble loading particular game cartridges. If you ever owned an NES, you probably remember having your own little tricks – blowing on the cartridge, hitting the reset button over and over again, or just hitting your NES really, really hard – to get certain games to work.
The NES was still popular enough three years after the release of the Super Nintendo to warrant a full redesign. This affordable, “top-loading” redesign was only in production for two years and remains a highly sought after item for retro game enthusiasts.

Virtual Boy (1995)
Sophisticated virtual reality headsets are finally just around the corner. Twenty years ago, Nintendo released the Virtual Boy, a portable virtual reality gaming device. Despite Nintendo’s best intentions, the Virtual Boy never became a hit due to serious design flaws, chief among them the fact that the headset wasn’t designed to be worn at all. Instead, gamers had to place the Virtual Boy on a stand and keep their eyes pressed against the unit without jostling it, which ended up being a decidedly aggravating and uncomfortable experience for most.
The Virtual Boy ended up selling less than a million units worldwide (for comparison, the Nintendo Wii has sold over 100 million units!), but it’s still a must-have for die-hard Nintendo collectors.

Did you ever own one of these game consoles? Share with us below, and make sure to visit HPB to sell your used electronics!

7 Books We’re Excited About This Fall

Fall is always my favorite time of year. It’s the time for sweaters, boots, cooler temps, pumpkin spice lattes and the year’s biggest and best books. Here are some of the ones I’m looking forward to reading the most.

furiously-happyFuriously Happy – September 22

In Furiously Happy, author Jenny Lawson shares a collection of essays telling us how to be just that – furiously happy. Through taxidermy, skinterventions and Swiss Army Dillos, Lawson is hands down one of the funniest authors I have ever read. At the end, though, Lawson does something unexpected and writes about her mental illness in a very touching and sensitive way. Throwing off the humor, she becomes real, personable and encouraging to others who are also struggling.

51JfDLKi3IL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Killing Reagan – September 22

In the same vein as Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy, Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard take on another United States President. They follow the road of Reagan’s background through Hollywood, as California governor and all the way to his presidency, the attempt on his life and the ramifications afterwards. This is the fifth book in the “Killing” series by O’Reilly and Dugard and is sure to be another big bestseller.

33d65f2eM Train – October 6

You don’t have to love Patti Smith’s music to love the way she writes. Patti Smith’s first book Just Kids was a major bestseller and even won the National Book Award. Smith returns in M Train to continue her story and discusses subjects such as travel, detective shows, literature and coffee. Told through words on the page and Polaroid photos, M Train is a book you won’t want to miss this fall.

611CmvkLO4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_QL70_Magnus Chase & the Gods of Asgard –  October 6

Magnus Chase is a new series by the one-and-only Rick Riordan. It will be sad to leave behind Percy Jackson and The Kane siblings for now, but there is little doubt – Magnus Chase will not disappoint. After a troubled childhood, Magnus finds out that he is the son of a Norse God and that the Viking myths are not myths at all. The journey that follows will be an extraordinary one.

the-lake-house-9781451649321_hrThe Lake House – October 20

From Kate Morton, the author of The Secret Keeper and The Distant Hours, comes The Lake House, which is sure to be another bestseller. Alice Edevane is living in Cornwall, England, when eleven-month-old Theo mysteriously goes missing after a massive party at her family’s estate. Years later, Alice’s path crosses with a young detective, Sadie Sparrow, and together they delve deep into the past to find the truth.


The Explorers Guild – October 20

This book was authored by Kevin Costner. Need I say more? No, but I will. The Explorers Guild is a throwback to the beloved adventure novels of Costner’s childhood The Explorer’s Guild is a group of adventurers who have one goal: to discover the mysteries that lie beyond the boundaries of the known world. Beautifully bound and illustrated by Rick Ross, this book will definitely be a treasure to add to your own personal library.


Winter – November 10

The continuation of The Lunar Chronicles is here after Marissa Meyer’s short departure with Fairest: Levana’s Story, where we learned how Levana came to be her evil self. In Winter, Levana’s stepdaughter, Princess Winter, falls in love with a palace guard. This story, inspired by Snow White, will be one that will keep you up late reading to find out if Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter bring Levana down and take their happily-ever-afters into their own hands.

The Books of Orange is the New Black

This post may contain spoilers. If you’re still working your way through this season…hurry!

Figuring I was the last person to do so, I finally broke down and signed up for Netflix earlier this year. Since then, I haven’t left my house. (Kidding! Sort of.) There are just so many fabulous shows to watch!

One of those great shows is Orange is the New Black. With the Emmys coming up this Sunday, we thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the bookish things that have happened with the ladies of Litchfield.

Books are a constant throughout the show. After all, your entertainment options are limited when you’re in lock-up! Over the years, we’ve seen the ladies reading a little bit of everything, including classics like Emma, Oliver Twist and Moby Dick, and newer titles like Gone Girl, The Help and The Fault in Our Stars.

As usual, this season (which I am still finishing, because Half Price Books likes me to take a break and come to work) as usual, books have played quite the prominent entertainment role at the prison. There is a very unfortunate bed bug outbreak that leads to Tastee and Poussay, everyone’s favorite prison librarians, hosting a book funeral, or as they deem it, “The Ultimate Book Return.” It is here Blanca says what many a booklover feels:


Season 3 also features Suzanne’s “debut” as an author, when she starts writing The Time Hump Chronicles, a very raunchy tale that takes the prison by storm, à la Fifty Shades of Grey. (We’ll skip the details here to keep this blog PG!) It’s nice to see Suzanne contributing to the prison community as well as the celebrity status she gains from her writing.

Here’s hoping the Litchfield residents keep reading for many more seasons to come. Watch the Emmys this Sunday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. on FOX to see if OITNB is a big winner!

Emily is Public Relations Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.

Read the Movie: Your Fall Guide to Movies Based on Books

This is an exciting time to talk about books being made into movies! It is the fall season, which also means…Oscar season. Every book mentioned here has a chance to bring home some gold next February and change the Oscar race in some way. Here we go.

TheMartianBookThe Martian by Andy Weir
Ridley Scott, who brought you the sci-fi blockbusters Alien and Blade Runner, directs what is sure to be another classic in The Martian. Matt Damon stars as astronaut Mark Watney, who is presumed dead and left behind, stranded on Mars. Watney ingeniously finds a way to survive on the hostile planet. The Martian hits the big screen on October 2. The Martian is also our HPB Book Club selection this month! Join the discussion here! 

DanishGirlBookThe Danish Girl by David Ebershoff
Based on the remarkable love story of artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener, including their marriage and groundbreaking journey as Elbe becomes one of the first-known recipients of transgender surgery. Eddie Redmayne portrays Lili Elbe in what will surely be an Oscar-nominated role and a chance for back-to-back Best Actor Oscars. The Danish Girl is directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) and starts November 27.

HeartofSeaBookIn The Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick
Ron Howard (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind) always seems to be a player during Oscar season, and we expect nothing less from him this year, as he tells the tale about the Essex, which was sunk by a whale in 1820, leaving all aboard stranded at sea for more than 90 days. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Charlotte Riley and Ben Whishaw (Skyfall) as Herman Melville. Opens December 11.

TheRevanantBookThe Revenant by Michael Punke
Frontier trapper Hugh Glass is mauled by a grizzly bear and then left for dead by thieves. He then embarks on a path of revenge. Glass is played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and early buzz has him in the already-crowded Best Actor category for an Oscar. Look for this film to be a player for more awards as well, being directed by last years winner for Birdman, Alejandro González Iñárritu. The Revenant has a release date of Christmas Day.

It is going to be a very exciting Oscar movie season. Go ahead and get the jump on things by reading some of the great movies hitting theaters this fall!

Jim is Art Director at Half Price Books Corporate.

Local Store Events Round-Up: September 2015


Arizona California Illinois Indiana Kansas Kentucky Minnesota Missouri Ohio Oklahoma Pennsylvania Texas Washington Wisconsin

Storewide 20% Off Everything Sale
This Labor Day Weekend, we’re having a Storewide 20% Off Everything Sale. Shop your neighborhood Half Price Books from Friday, September 4 through Monday, September 7 and stock up on great new and used books, music, movies and games for the whole family. No coupons needed. Discount valid in stores only. Not valid on gift card purchases, online or at Half Price Books Outlet 


Phoenix – Camelback 

First Sunday Storytime
Pack up your half-pint readers and come to your Camelback HPB for Storytime Sundays. Sit down and enjoy a good tale with us at 1 p.m. on the first Sunday of each month. All young readers and listeners are welcome!

Phoenix – Paradise Valley 

Tina D. Stephens Book Signing
Meet local author Tina D. Stephens on Saturday, September 5, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at your Paradise Valley HPB in Phoenix. Tina will sell and sign her historical fiction novel, The Common Hours. Books will be sold independently by the author while supplies last.

Continue reading