Editor’s Note: Throughout the year, our buyers curate a selection of new, bestselling books to offer in our stores at 20% off the cover price. Here’s a closer look at some of 2018’s standouts!
Melmoth (Sarah Perry)
Melmoth is a full-on gothic horror novel from the author of The Essex Serpent. The story crosses many different time periods and focuses on people who are in the midst of difficult situations. It is primarily centered on Helen Franklin, an English translator working in Prague, who disregards an obscure local monster legend before a friend’s disappearance reveals that Helen is being watched. This particular book asks the question, “What’s the difference between someone who orders a horrific act be done and the person who turns a blind eye towards it?” It’s a very chilling, and at times horrific, book that stays with you. Continue reading
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.
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?
- Before 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!
A History of Postcards: A Pictorial Record From the Turn of the Century to the Present Day, Martin Willoughby
Postcards: Ephemeral Histories of Modernity, David Prochaska & Jordana Mendelson
Toulouse Lautrec and La Vie Moderne: Paris 1880–1910, Phillip Dennis Cate, et al.
Toulouse Lautrec: A Life, Julia Frey
Discovery of Art: Toulouse Lautrec
World War I Posters: 100th Anniversary Collectors Edition, Edward J. White
World War II Posters In Color, Philip Martin McCaulay
Jules Cheret: Artist of the Belle Epoque and Pioneer of Poster Art, Michael Buhrs, et al
Posters of Jules Cheret: 46 Full Color Plates and Illustrated Catalogue Risonne, Lucy Broido
High Art: A History of the Psychedelic Poster, Ted Owen, Denise Dickson & Walter Patrick Medeiros
Off the Wall: Psychedelic Rock Posters From San Francisco, Amelie Gastaut & Jean-Pierre Criqui
24 X 36: A Movie About Movie Posters
American Classics: Parlor Music Revisited, Daniel Kobialka
Hey Booklovers! We’re beyond excited for the opening of our new store in Wichita, KS. In this edition of Meet the Bibliomaniacs, we would like to introduce you to the HPB Wichita team. Take it away, guys!
What is your favorite part about working at HPB?
Charity: The other employees have been fantastic.
Kathleen: I get to be surrounded by the things I love with people who also love books and media, too. Seeing people come in with things to sell is an adventure. You never know what will be there!
Jonathan: The atmosphere.
Matt: Seeing and buying so many books.
Sarah: The people I work with and the customers.
Morgana: I enjoy how patient and reassuring all of my superiors have been. It creates a comfortable work environment.
Thomas: The work environment, working with people who like books. Customers and employees alike.
Lisa: Exposure to new subjects and expanding my knowledge of books.
Hunter: Seeing all the new products and interesting things come through.
Anissa: Being around books and learning about new subjects.
Caleb: Interacting with people who have the same passions I do.
Tim: Being exposed to rare and exciting collectibles and learning something new every day.
Kristal: Working with a company that has such diverse interests and really values both customers and employees. Also, my favorite part about buying books is that they can tell you a story about the people selling them to you, and you never know what that story will be. Continue reading
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 November, we’ve got all the pieces in place for a look at the history of board games.
2650 BCE The Royal Game of Ur is played in Mesopotamia.
1300 BCE Two-player strategy game Ludus latrunculorum is played throughout the Roman Empire.
1822 The first American-made board game, Travellers Tour Through the United States, debuts.
1935 Monopoly is released. It would go on to become the biggest selling board game in US history.
1995 European strategy game The Settlers of Catan is released. It has since been translated into 30 languages and called “the board game of our time.”
DID YOU KNOW?
- The Checkered Game of Life, released in 1860 by lithographer Milton Bradley, is known as America’s first popular parlor game and is the basis for the modern-day Game of Life.
- Checkers, known as draughts in the UK, has been played in one form or another for centuries, having evolved from the early Middle Eastern game Alquerque.
- The boot, thimble and wheelbarrow are among the Monopoly pieces to be discontinued in recent years.
- The ancient Egyptian game Senet, which somewhat resembles Backgammon, dates to 3100 BCE and can be seen in this painting from the tomb of Queen Nefertari.
Want to dive deeper? Check out these great products!
The Oxford History of Board Games, David Parlett
The Games We Played: The Golden Age of Board & Table Games, Margaret Hofer
The Master of Go, Kawabata
It’s All a Game: The History of Board Games from Monopoly to Settlers of Catan, Tristan Donovan
The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game, Mary Pilon
The Player of Games, Iain Banks
The Game Makers: The Story of Parker Brothers, from Tiddledy Winks to Trivial Pursuit, Philip Orbanes
Searching for Bobby Fischer (movie)
Word Wars (movie)
It’s almost that time of year again, and if you are anything like me, you haven’t started on your Halloween costume yet! Here is a list of seven last-minute literary costumes that are HPB approved!
1. Where’s Waldo? – All you need to be as elusive as Waldo is a striped shirt, some jeans, a beanie and glasses!
We do a lot of reading in our house, which means I’m always on the hunt for our new favorite book. I recently discovered Toto’s Apple by Mathieu Lavoie at our local Half Price Books and instantly fell in love with Toto, a delightful little worm who devises a series of inventive problem solving measures to reach an apple high in a tree. Every time we read it I admire his tenaciousness, especially because he uses arts and crafts to overcome each of his obstacles — you’re a worm after our own hearts, Toto.
Every now and then we do a special storytime party, and I knew Toto would be the perfect book to kick off the first day of fall. It has it all – apples, trees, leaves, squirrels, birds – it’s basically fall bingo in picture book form. So I invited my daughters Jane (four) and Rose (two) to help me bake mini apple pies (with leaf crusts, their favorite part) which we devoured while we read the book, and afterward we made simple popsicle butterflies, just like Toto makes for himself in the book. It was fun and simple and made storytime just a little more magical.
What’s your family’s favorite storytime book? Let us know in the comments below!
Written by Kristen Dickson from @tojaneandrose, a girl mom in Texas looking for that everyday magic.
Educators hold a special place in our hearts at Half Price Books. Earlier this year, we introduced you to a pair of teachers who are true HPB booklovers. Adriana and Jeffery Sifford visited every HPB in the Houston, TX area (there are nine for anyone who’s counting) in a single day and tweeted about their adventure along the way. In this Q&A, we get to know Adriana and Jeff, and discover more about their choice to pursue a career in education.
Why did you become an educator?
Adriana – When I was a reporter, I covered education and I loved going to teachers’ classrooms and watching them teach. Students were engaged, teachers were having fun. I watched how students were learning from the teachers, and I always wanted to be a part of that.
Jeffrey – This may sound so cliché, but to make a difference. I always enjoyed learning and that’s something I wanted to pass on.
What do teachers do when their kids are at lunch? Take selfies in the classroom! Looking good, Adriana.
Who was your favorite teacher and why?
Adriana – My favorite teacher was Ms. Martinez. She was my 9th grade English teacher. She was nice, patient and was there for us when we needed her. She was also my debate coach. She made learning fun!
Jeffrey – My favorite teacher was my 4th grade English teacher, Mrs. Zaskoda. She made reading come alive and I looked forward to going to her class every day. Continue reading
EDITORS NOTE: From debut author Imogen Hermes Gowar comes The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock, an atmospheric historical fiction novel set in 18th century London. The elegant prose and magical realism transports you to a world of opulence and turmoil. Gowar’s rich visuals and detailed descriptions kept us reading and reading and reading! We had the opportunity to catch up with Imogen recently. Read on to discover her answers to our questions!
The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock is such a unique story. Where did your inspiration come from? Was there something in particular that drew you to mermaids?
I’ve been interested in the supernatural since childhood, and that definitely includes mermaids. I was particularly compelled by the traditional mermaid myths: the idea that they had a dangerous, inexorable power as much rooted in melancholy and longing as in anything erotic.
I was also really interested in the way people thought of mermaids, as opposed to how they were displayed. The goblin-like counterfeit mermaid effigies that were popular in the eighteenth century and beyond didn’t bear a huge resemblance to the sexy damsels of popular imagination, but people were willing to be taken in by them nevertheless. While I was working at the British Museum I came across one of these fake mermaids—it’s made from a monkey’s torso stitched to a salmon’s tail—and it is oddly chilling. I could immediately imagine the sort of man who might want to acquire it: how he would bridge the gulf between how it looked and what he wished to believe. Continue reading
September is National Literacy Month and a great time to think about the importance of reading in our lives.
Sadly, there are more than 36 million adults in this country that cannot read, write or do basic math above a third-grade level. And this affects almost every aspect of their lives – they can’t read to their children (which makes their kids more likely to have low literacy skills), job prospects are slim and they can’t read prescriptions or other healthcare information, which makes them more likely to have health problems. The list goes on and on.
Luckily, there are many wonderful organizations across the country working to make sure this won’t always be the case!
One of the organizations we support here in our hometown of Dallas is Literacy Instruction for Texas (LIFT). I’m a proud member of their board of directors – it’s wonderful to see the work they do with the community each day!
To support organizations like this, Half Price Books will host Literacy Benefit Day on Saturday, Sept. 8. We’ll donate 5% of our sales that day to literacy partners across the country – up to $20,000.
We’ve also designed some buttons with a purpose so you can show your support for literacy.
100% of the proceeds from the sale of these buttons will benefit our local literacy partners – available while supplies last.
So we hope you’ll stop by stores in September to help support these great organizations that are boosting the literacy skills of both kids and adults alike.
To find the literacy partner near you, check out our Literacy Month page.
Another year of our Half Pint Library Book Drive and book giveaways has come and gone! This was the 19th year of our Half Pint Library Book Drive (part of our Million Book Donation Project), and I am pleased to announce we distributed 330,789 books to organizations across the country.
Thank you to all of our wonderful customers who donated books to the drive. We couldn’t have gotten so many books into the hands of kids who need them without you! Until next year, please enjoy these photos from some of our giveaways.
The book recipients and HPB staff pose for a photo before the book distribution begins at our Downers Grove, Illinois location.