All Things Printed & Recorded: Paperbacks – Judge Them By Their Cover

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year in our HPB calendar, we’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we buy and sell in our stores. For July, we’re going way back to cover the history of the paperback.

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DID YOU KNOW?

  • The modern paperback was born in 1935 with the hit debut of Penguin in the United Kingdom. Founder Allen Lane’s goal was to sell affordable, high-quality books to the masses in places like train stations. Their minimalistic, type-driven cover designs, color-coded by genre, became iconic.
  • Inexpensive paperbound books called dime novels were published in the US starting in 1860. Their British counterparts were called penny dreadfuls.
  • In 1939, Pocket Books launched in the US with 10 titles priced at 25¢ each. By comparison, a hardback might cost a few dollars. Pocket sold their books in subway stations, newsstands and drugstores, reaching new readers and forever changing the bookselling industry.
  • Soldier in circleSmall enough to fit in a uniform pocket, paperback books were carried by soldiers in World War II. One writer noted that “if the back trouser pocket bulged in that way,” it indicated that the soldier was a reader.

TIMELINE
17th cent.  Early softcover books are printed in Europe.
1935  Penguin publishes its first paperback, Ariel, a biography of Percy Shelley.
1938  The first US paperback, Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth, is released by Pocket and sold at Macy’s as a test.
1950  Using the brand Gold Medal Books, Fawcett begins publishing original fiction in paperback, as opposed to reprinting titles originally released in hardback.
1960  Sales of paperbacks pass those of hardcover books.

stack of paperbacksWant to dive deeper? Check out these great products!

book Reading the West: An Anthology of Dime Westerns, ed. Bill Brown
book Classic Penguin: Cover to Cover, by Paul Buckley, ed.
book Penguin By Design: A Cover Story, 1935–2005, by Phil Baines
book When Books Went to War: The Stories that Helped Us Win World War II, by Molly Guptill Manning
book Two-Bit Culture: The Paperbacking of America, by Kenneth Davis & Joann Giusto-Davis
book Paperbacks From Hell: The Twisted History of ‘70s and ‘80s Horror Fiction, by Grady Hendrix
slate_film-512 Paperback Dreams , directed by Alex Beckstead

 

Celebrating the Undiscovered: Inspiration for Aspiring Writers

Author and journalist Gene Fowler once said, “Writing is easy; all you do is sit, staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead.” Novelist P.G. Wodehouse said, “I just sit at a typewriter and curse a bit,” and author and sportswriter Red Smith said, “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” In other words, writers know that to create something out of nothing but a thought and put it down on paper in an engaging, exciting or maybe humorous way requires patience, commitment, sacrifice and pain.

So why do it? Because you must.

At Half Price Books, we celebrate not only the wonderful books that have already been published, but also those that are still waiting to be discovered, or written. How? Well, there are several ways.

Just getting started? We have journals, research materials, inspirational quotes, writing style guides (if that sort of thing interests you) and nice little nooks where you and your laptop can get lost for a while. I once startled an HPB employee while sitting in the floor of the fiction section, writing a murder mystery under the watchful eye of Ernest J. Gaines’ A Lesson Before Dying. I though it apropos.

Stuck? We have writing prompts for those of you who need a jumpstart, not to mention the shelves and shelves of escapes and reboots just waiting to be discovered.

Ready to submit? We have guides to help find publishers and agents, as well as books about the publishing business and novel proposals. Don’t forget to look at the acknowledgements in your favorite books to see who published, edited and represented those authors.

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Need encouragement? Throughout the year, Half Price Books stores across the country hold writers workshops or (in November) National Novel Writing Month Write-ins, where you can sit and talk to other writers about the creative process and the struggles of writing. We’re also partnering this month with Scribbler, the only subscription box for novelists! The purpose of the box is to help writers improve their craft and reach their publishing goals. Subscribe to the June Scribbler box and get a special coupon from Half Price Books.

Kate 20Half Price Books is also proud to be the place where many talented writers and artists have started out. Did you know that the Newberry Award-winning novelist Kate DiCamillo once worked in our Coon Rapids, MN store? Check out other authors who have worked or still work for us in our “Meet the Bibliomaniac” series, Brian Douglas and Dayna Ingram.  (And maybe one day you’ll see my name there!)

So no matter what you write, where you write, how you write or what you need to write, Half Price Books has you covered.

Behind the Book: There There by Tommy Orange

Editor’s Note (from Kristen Beverly, HPB Buyer):
When I first heard about Tommy Orange’s new book, There There, I knew I had to read it. There’s not a lot of fiction out there detailing the modern Native American’s urban experience and I love to read books about other cultures. Once I started reading it, I could not put it down. I devoured it whole and after I was finished, I just had to know how Tommy wrote such an elegant debut novel. I never expected his response! Check it out below.

Prone-Writing, Running, and Robot Voices

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I probably wrote the most important parts of my novel lying on the floor or running in the Sierra foothills in California. I write about half the time on my stomach. It’s terrible for my neck and back. For my elbows. The only reason I can think of as to why I started to write this way is related to the way my dad used to watch TV with me. He always preferred the floor. I just found out recently he slept that way most of his childhood. He and his brothers used to fight for a bed of wood slats.

In regards to writing important parts of my novel while running in the Sierra foothills of California, I can only say that as the novel got longer so did my runs and so did the problems get more complex and difficult to figure out in the revision process. While running I would think of solutions to some of the novel’s deeper, more complex problems. I would slow down and write them in the notepad app on my phone. Writing a twelve character cast and making it all feel cohesive, and necessary, and like all their story arcs are interconnected—it did not come naturally, or easily, or even organically. I wanted to give up more times than I felt the hope or strength or whatever it takes—obsession?—to keep going when you want to stop and don’t think you can make it. Long runs can feel that way, too. Learning that if you just keep pushing yourself something will come of it translates from the run to the page. Even if it just meant getting back home. Writing when you don’t want to or looking back at pages you’ve already written takes a kind of endurance. I read out loud a lot, and recorded it, listened to that, and used an app that read my novel to me in robot voices that helped me to hear what worked and didn’t in fresh ways I couldn’t access on my own. Continue reading

Meet the Bibliomaniac: The HPB Vernon Hills Team

Shopping for books, music and movies in the Windy City is about to get a whole lot breezier. In this edition of Meet the Bibliomaniacs, you’ll get to know the management team at HPB Vernon Hills, IL. Kelly, Tom, Tim, Jade and Allie are ready to help you with all your bookish needs. Take it away, guys!

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What is your favorite part about working at HPB?

Kelly:    I love the product and the company, but my favorite part is the people I’ve met!
Tom:      The company culture and the friends I’ve made at all the stores in the district.
Tim:       Cool people galore; surrounded by books.
Jade:     Being surrounded by books and people with such unique, varying interests.
Allie:     I find something that fascinates me every day.

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Totally Random Lists: Reading Cats & Dogs

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year at HPB, we’re celebrating the random. Actually, we’ve been doing that every year since our founding in 1972. And we mean random in a totally good way, as in the random treasures you come across when you’re browsing our stores or website—and the wonderfully random stuff we buy from the public every day. In this series of posts, you’ll find books, movies and music collected in some very random ways. So here’s our list for October 2017!

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If there is one thing dog people and cat people can agree on, it’s that the HPB 2017 Calendar of Totally Random Lists is a great place to find a list of books, movies & music featuring or inspired by dogs & cats.

BOOKS
The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss
Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog, John Grogan
Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, T.S. Eliot
White Fang, Jack London

Oct visualMOVIES & TV
The Adventures of Milo and Otis
Lassie Come Home
Must Love Dogs
That Darn Cat!

MUSIC
Cats: Original London Cast Recording
Tha Doggfather, Snoop Dogg
Hounds of Love, Kate Bush
The Very Best of Cat Stevens

Fur more of these paw-sitively tail-wagging picks, check out HPB.com/cats.

Totally Random Lists: All the Colors of the Rainbow

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year at HPB, we’re celebrating the random. Actually, we’ve been doing that every year since our founding in 1972. And we mean random in a totally good way, as in the random treasures you come across when you’re browsing our stores or website—and the wonderfully random stuff we buy from the public every day. In this series of posts, you’ll find books, movies and music collected in some very random ways. So here’s our list for June 2017!
June TypeWhen you’re painting your bedroom or dying your hair (for fashion reasons, of course, not vanity — you wouldn’t be that way), finding the exact right color is hard. With the list of colorful titles below, finding the right book, movie or music is easy.

BOOKS
The Color Purple, Alice Walker
Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss
The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne

June Visual crayonsMOVIES & TV
The Gold Rush
Orange is the New Black
The Red Balloon

MUSIC
Back to Black, Amy Winehouse
Indigo Girls, Indigo Girls
Kind of Blue, Miles Davis
Yellow Submarine, The Beatles

For more hues, shades and tints, check out our longer list of colorful titles at HPB.com/colors.

Totally Random Lists: Rabbits!

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year at HPB, we’re celebrating the random. Actually, we’ve been doing that every year since our founding in 1972. And we mean random in a totally good way, as in the random treasures you come across when you’re browsing our stores or website—and the wonderfully random stuff we buy from the public every day. In this series of posts, you’ll find books, movies and music collected in some very random ways. So here’s our list for April 2017!

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These mammals (family: Leporidae, order: Lagomorpha) make their habitats in meadows, forests, grasslands, novels, fables, movies and even the surnames of bearded country singers. From Roger Rabbit to Eddie Rabbitt, HPB has all your furry favorites.

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Totally Random Lists: What Year Is It?

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year at HPB, we’re celebrating the random. Actually, we’ve been doing that every year since our founding in 1972. And we mean random in a totally good way, as in the random treasures you come across when you’re browsing our stores or website—and the wonderfully random stuff we buy from the public every day. In this series of posts, you’ll find books, movies and music collected in some very random ways. So let’s get started with our first list for January 2017!
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Authors have been using years in their book titles, for, well, years and years. To kick off the year called 2017, here’s a list of some notable books, movies & music named after a particular 12-month period.Jan-Baby.png

BOOKS
1776, David McCullough
1919 (Vol. 2 of the U.S.A. Trilogy), John Dos Passos
Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell

MOVIES & TV
1900
1941
2001: A Space Odyssey

MUSIC
1984, Van Halen
1989, Taylor Swift
1999, Prince

Of course, there are hundreds, even thousands of other years worth celebrating! Check out a longer version of this list at HPB.com/year.

Books Can Take You Places: Texas

In 2016, we encouraged our booklovers to travel more. Not the kind of travel that involves airplanes, passports and hotels, but the kind where you open a great book and let it take you somewhere. We’ve taken trips to 14 different cities this year and it has been an amazing journey around the world filled with books, music and movies. To wrap up our year of travel, let’s explore all that Texas a.k.a The Lone Star State has to offer.

Half Price Books was born in Texas in 1972. And we native Texans take comfort in knowing that no matter where we travel in the world, the place we get to come home to is pretty darn interesting in its own right.texas

From colonial and cowboy days right up to the mostly urban present, the unique character of the Lone Star State has long fascinated storytellers of all kinds.

But don’t take our word for it. Stop by your local HPB and find out what Larry McMurtry has to say. Or Lyle Lovett. Or Richard Linklater. (Okay, now it just seems like we’re bragging. Sorry. Guess we come by it naturally.) Continue reading

Santa Claus at Half Price Books

HPB is full of excitement because Santa Claus is coming to the Flagship store in Dallas! In keeping with Christmastime traditions, Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick will be making appearances at the Half Price Books located at 5803 E. Northwest Hwy. in Dallas, Texas. Bring the whole family – Fido, too – for a memorable snapshot with Santa. Donations appreciated and will benefit the North Texas Food Bank.

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Santa’s appearance schedule:
Friday, Nov 25:  1-5 p.m.
Saturday, Nov 26:  1-5 p.m.
Sunday, Nov 27:  1-5 p.m.
Friday, Dec 2:  5-9 p.m.
Saturday, Dec 3:  1-5 p.m.
Sunday, Dec 4:  1-5 p.m.
Friday, Dec 9:  5-9 p.m.
Saturday, Dec 10:  1-5 p.m.
Sunday, Dec 11:  1-5 p.m.
Friday, Dec 16:  5-9 p.m.
Saturday, Dec 17:  1-5 p.m.
Sunday, Dec 18:  1-5 p.m.

We hope to see you at the HPB Flagship this holiday season! Be sure to check out our Holiday Gift Guide.