HPB Presents: Featured Collectibles Auction

Welcome to our third Featured Collectibles Auction! We were thrilled with the response to our previous auctions, so we’ve decided to share three more very special collectibles. Read on to see what we’re auctioning off for this round and get information on the bidding process!


Item #1: Avalon Ballroom Poster

Just after the Summer of Love—
Take a trip back 53 years for an original poster produced by Family Dog Productions for an October 1967 show at San Francisco’s Avalon Ballroom featuring Avalon mainstays Quicksilver Messenger Service, along with Taj Mahal and the Sons of Champlin. It’s in comics style, illustrated by iconic comic-book artist Rick Griffin. Colors are bright, with no fading, pinholes or tears, and only minor edgewear.

AVALON BALLROOM POSTER ITEM DETAILS
Title: Quicksilver Messenger Service at the Avalon Ballroom

Produced by: Family Dog, San Francisco
Additional Info: First Issue, #89-1, October 1967
Condition: Very Good
Minimum Bid: $250
Email your bid to: atbg@halfpricebooks.com Continue reading

The Inside Story: This Is Ann

In this blog series, HPB Buy Guy Steve Leach takes a closer look at the unique curiosities that we see in our stores.


Most fans of The Cat in the Hat and other characters created by Dr. Seuss are not aware of his wartime stint producing pamphlets and animated training films for director Frank Capra’s Signal Corps, but we’re happy to introduce you to Seuss’s mosquito Ann, whom he put to work in service of her country.

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Continue reading

The Inside Story: The Underground Railroad

In this blog series, HPB Buy Guy Steve Leach takes a closer look at the unique curiosities that we see in our stores.


9780345804327_5d023Critics and readers praised Colson Whitehead’s sixth novel, The Underground Railroad, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2017 and the National Book Award in 2016. Its fanciful reimagining of the historic escape route for runaway slaves revived popular interest in the subject.

Here’s a look at Reverend W.M. Mitchell’s Underground Railroad, published in England in 1860, among the most significant items we’ve ever acquired: a book written by a black minister about the slave rescue network during the time it was in operation, and the first book to use the term Underground Railroad in print. Continue reading

HPB Celebrates Independent Bookstore Day

In honor of Independent Bookstore Day, Half Price Books salutes the many great independent bookstores around the country (and around the world)! We are proud to be part of a field that involves noble entrepreneurs, clerks and advisors who provide knowledge and entertainment—by way of books—to so many. Independent bookstores remain strong as centers of their community, fonts of wisdom and refuges in the age of instant gratification. Continue reading

We Buy Everything Printed and Recorded—and More!

At HPB, one of our primary missions is to provide the biggest variety of printed and recorded merchandise you’ve ever seen. But we can’t do that without YOU! Of course we buy and sell a huge variety of books, but we offer so much more, based on what customers like you sell to us each and every day. As our co-founder Ken Gjemre used to say, “We buy everything printed and recorded, except yesterday’s newspaper.”

Whether Marie Kondo has convinced you to “tidy up” those closets and bookshelves or you’ve been bitten by the Spring Cleaning bug, we’re happy to help. Let’s take a closer look at the many kinds of things you can bring us for cold, hard cash! Continue reading

All Things Printed & Recorded: Ephemera, Etc.

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 December, we’re looking at one of our smaller but most interesting product categories: ephemera—miscellaneous printed materials that have become collectible over time. Common examples found in HPB stores include sheet music, postcards and posters.

TIMELIMEsheet music singers
1457  The Mainz Psalter is the first printed book to include music, though the notation is added in by hand. 
1840  The world’s first picture postcard is sent when British writer Theodore Hook mails a self-made card to himself.
1891  Toulouse-Lautrec’s artful poster designs spark a poster craze in Paris.
1917-1918  During World War I, the US government prints 2,500 different posters to aid in the war effort, including the famous “I Want You” recruiting poster featuring Uncle Sam.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Cheret posterBefore the advent of recording, sheet music dominated the music industry. The late 1800s saw the zenith of “parlor music,” with people gathering around the piano to play and sing the popular songs of the day.
  • “Large letter” postcards, usually printed on linen-textured paper, were popular during the mid-20th century. The style was developed by Chicago-based Curt Teich and Company.
  • In the 1880s, French painter and lithographer Jules Chéret ushered in modern advertising with a new printing process that allowed for brighter colors and more economical mass production of large posters.
  • Psychedelic posters of the 1960s, like the ones produced by The Family Dog, were influenced by Art Nouveau and Surrealism.

Want to dive deeper? Check out these great products!

book A History of Postcards: A Pictorial Record From the Turn of the Century to the Present Day, Martin Willoughby
book Postcards: Ephemeral Histories of Modernity, David Prochaska & Jordana Mendelson
book Toulouse Lautrec and La Vie Moderne: Paris 1880–1910, Phillip Dennis Cate, et al.
book Toulouse Lautrec: A Life, Julia Frey
slate_film-512 Discovery of Art: Toulouse Lautrec
book World War I Posters: 100th Anniversary Collectors Edition, Edward J. White
book World War II Posters In Color, Philip Martin McCaulay
book Jules Cheret: Artist of the Belle Epoque and Pioneer of Poster Art, Michael Buhrs, et al
book Posters of Jules Cheret: 46 Full Color Plates and Illustrated Catalogue Risonne, Lucy Broido
book High Art: A History of the Psychedelic Poster, Ted Owen, Denise Dickson & Walter Patrick Medeiros
book Off the Wall: Psychedelic Rock Posters From San Francisco, Amelie Gastaut & Jean-Pierre Criqui
slate_film-512 24 X 36: A Movie About Movie Posters
music-note-2 American Classics: Parlor Music Revisited, Daniel Kobialka

All Things Printed & Recorded: Ready. Cassette. Go!

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 October, we’re hitting rewind on the history of the cassette tape.

TIMELINE
1928  Magnetic tape is invented by Fritz Pfleumer.cassette
1963  Philips introduces the compact cassette; it is first used for dictation machines.
1968  The first in-dashboard car cassette player appears.
1968  Dolby noise reduction gives cassettes better sound and more viability for music. 
1993  Compact discs overtake cassettes in sales. By 2000, a tiny percentage of music is sold on cassette.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Mixtapes on cassette—homemade compilations of songs in a carefully considered order, often given to another person—were a mainstay in the 1980s. Novelist Nick Hornby wrote in High Fidelity, “making a tape is like writing a letter—there’s a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again.”
  • Bill Lear of Lear Jet Corporation led the development of the 8-track, which debuted in 1964 and was common until the early 80s. Some record labels released 8-track tapes as late as 1988.
  • Due to their small size, cassettes made music personal and portable, paving the way for products like stereo boom boxes and the Sony Walkman.

Want to dive deeper? Check out these great products!

book Mix Tape: The Art of Cassette Culture, Thurston Moore
book Cassette From My Ex: Stories and Soundtracks of Lost Love, Jason Bitner
book Tape, Steven Camden
book Love is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time, Rob Sheffield
book High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
slate_film-512 High Fidelity 
slate_film-512 Cassette: A Documentary Mixtape

Collectible Conversations: Albums That Should Be Seen and Not Heard

There are several reasons the LP format has endured for six decades, and is in fact back in ascendance. The warm, full sound of vinyl may be at the top of that list of reasons, but another big factor involves the visual aspect, not the aural. The square-foot LP cover is a nice, big canvas on which could be featured not only relevant info about the recording but beautiful, provocative or bizarre imagery.

Many LP covers are iconic: The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was so recognizable that The Mothers of Invention and others parodied or imitated it. The Clash and other artists recreated the pink-and-green graphics over black-and-white photo of the 1956 Elvis Presley album. Miles Davis, Pink Floyd, Joni Mitchell and so many other popular artists’ works are memorably packaged.

But we want to talk about the other side of album art, the record covers that are so bad they’re good (or, often, are just…so bad.) Perhaps it’s inept or insane illustrations. Maybe it’s culture clash or has out-of-date kitsch appeal. Or our favorites: celebrities who are not singers but who couldn’t resist the opportunity to record an album to prove to the world that they are not singers.

Operations Director Jan Cornelius and I will be hosting a Collectible Conversations presentation Thursday evening, August 30, in which we’ll show some examples of the bad LP covers we’ve collected over the years. And, contrary to our presentation’s title, we will be so bold as to play a few snippets (snippets are all we can stand) of some of them.

Here are just a few “highlights” from the collection:

  • Sebastian Cabot, Actor – Bob Dylan, Poet
  • Mr. T’s Be Somebody or Be Somebody’s Fool
  • Heino
  • Music to Suffer By

We love to talk about bad LP covers, but we love inflicting them on others even more! Our Collectible Conversation featuring bad LP covers takes place on Thursday, August 30, at 6:00 p.m., in our Flagship store’s Collectibles section.