A Book Nerd’s Look at the Modern Mass Market Paperback

To call me a book nerd would be like calling the Hulk green, so obvious that the statement is completely unnecessary. So, when I found out that July 30 was the day the modern paperback book was introduced, I wanted to know more.

First, let’s get some facts straight. July 30, 1935 was not the day the first paperback book was published. In France and Germany, paperback books were published in the 17th century, and James Fenimore Cooper wrote paperback book-like frontier stories back in 1823. Probably the first true mass-market paperback was Malaeska, by Ann S. Stephens, published in June 1860 by the pioneers of the Dime Novel or “penny dreadful.”

However, July 30, 1935 was the day Sir Allen Lane, founder of Penguin Publishing, published the first “respectable” paperback book, Ariel, by André Maurois. Ariel is a biography of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. The story behind the first Penguin paperback is that Mr. Lane, after a weekend in the country with Agatha Christie, was at the train station looking for something to read on his trip back to London, but couldn’t find anything except slick magazines and pulp fiction. His idea was to make quality fiction and nonfiction available in places like train stations for discerning readers who were traveling, and to make them just as affordable as a pack of cigarettes. Voila, the modern paperback was born.

IMG_8939

At first, booksellers were reluctant to buy Lane’s paperbacks, but when Woolworths placed a large order, the books sold so well that booksellers began to stock Lane’s books, making the name “Penguin” synonymous with paperbacks. Continue reading

For HPB’s 45th Birthday: What Else? 45s!

In honor of Half Price Books turning 45, we feature some great 45 rpm singles from their heyday in the fifties, sixties and seventies. (Wait until 2050 for the birthday when we feature 78 rpm records.)

When are 45s gonna become cool again? Or so uncool that they’re hip? Who cares—we love 45s! They sound big and in-your-face, and we see so many rare, sublime and forgotten treasures come through our doors.

45s are cheap, too! Most are in the 50 cents-to-a-dollar range in our stores. Here are a few that are a little more special.

ElvisPresleyElvis Presley – “That’s All Right”/ “Blue Moon of Kentucky”
1976, RCA Victor 447-0601 promo in RCA sleeve MCST 40462 (UK) picture disc
Elvis recorded these songs in 1954 (the single’s label says 1955) at Sun Studio for his first single. Also available, a promo reissue of his 2nd single, “Good Rockin’ Tonight.”
Both are in Very Good condition.—$15 each Continue reading

#HPBgives: More Than 330,000 Kids’ Books Donated Nationwide

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.

124


The book recipients and HPB staff pose for a photo before the book distribution begins at our Downers Grove, Illinois location.

Continue reading

And the Prize Goes to… (Rarest of Rare Collectibles)

The Pulitzer Prize program was initiated in 1917. No award for fiction was given that first year, but prizes have been handed out in all but eleven years since 1918. The winner in 1918 was Ernest Poole, who won for His Family. Poole and quite a few other Fiction Pulitzer winners are all but forgotten now (our stores don’t get many requests these days for books by Margaret Wilson, Martin Flavin or Josephine Johnson—all Fiction prizewinners).

But other award-winning novels have stood the test of time and are on students’ reading lists and/or their parents’ must-read lists. Here we feature some collectible editions of Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction books which can be found on our shelves!

GoneWithTheWind

Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
Macmillan, 1986. 50th Anniversary Edition.
Awarded the Pulitzer in 1937

This anniversary edition of the timeless Civil War classic is in a slipcase that features a photograph of author Margaret Mitchell. It’s at our Cincinnati-Northgate store—$20. Continue reading

Books Authors Read with Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle

HPB-BAR-MissNorma

Editor’s Note: We are pleased to welcome Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle to two of our locations in just a few weeks! They’ll stop by our Northwest Highway location in Dallas on Monday, May 8 at 7p.m. CST to discuss their new book, Driving Miss Norma. 90-year-old Norma Bauerschmidt was diagnosed with endometrial cancer in 2015. Instead of having a difficult procedure and following through with chemotherapy, she decided to hit the road with her son and daughter-in-law. Her adventures were chronicled by the pair through pictures and blog posts, and she became a Facebook phenomenon. Although she passed away in 2016, she taught us all that saying “Yes” to life is the best way to live. We hope to see you at the Dallas event! If you can’t make it to the Dallas location, Tim and Ramie will also stop by our Marietta location in the Atlanta, Georgia area on May 16 at 7 p.m. EST. In the meantime, we asked them to share some of their favorite books with us in our Books Authors Read blog series – enjoy!

Memoirs and books involving the end-of-life seem to be the recent themes of our collective reading.

Being Mortal Medicine and What Matters in the EndBeing Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
This is the book that inspired us to take “Miss Norma” on the road with us instead of leaving her behind in a nursing home. In it, Dr. Gawande addresses the realities everyone must face as they near the end of their lives. As a result, our eyes were wide open and clear when the time came to help make transformative decisions for Norma.

Dr. Gawande points out that most decisions concerning our elderly population’s living situations are aimed at ensuring their safety, at the expense of dignity and autonomy. He says this is especially true when adult children are making these decisions for them, and certainly all nursing homes are geared toward that approach.

He further argues that it is not just the “quantity of life” but the “quality of life” that must be considered at end times. Modern medicine is too concerned about prolonging life at the expense of the patient’s total well-being. Not only did his words give us the gumption to take Norma places that we would have otherwise not thought of, but he also demonstrates the beauty of hospice care in the home, giving us the confidence to have Norma with us in the motor home until the very end.

“Our ultimate goal, after all, is not a good death but a good life to the very end.”  — Atul Gawande Continue reading

Celebrate Pi Day with these Math-ical Books, Movies and Music

March 14 is the day everyone in the world, or at least everyone here in the U.S. (where we put the month before the day), pauses to celebrate that most constant of mathematical constants, that most transcendental of transcendental numbers. Of course, I’m talking about Pi, also known as “π,” also known as the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, also known as 3.14 (give or take a trillion digits). 3.14…3/14…March 14. Get it? Yeah, me neither. Never had much of a head for math.

Nevertheless, this Pi Day thing seems to be real. They even have a website where you can buy a t-shirt and watch a rap video.

All this hubbub got me thinking about my favorite books, movies and even songs that feature a heavy dose of math. You can look for these at your local HPB and do some math when you calculate how much money you’re saving.

Life of Pi bookLife of Pi
This 2001 novel by Yann Martel and its 2012 film adaptation tell the story of Piscine “Pi” Patel, an Indian boy who adopts the nickname Pi after kids make fun of his real name. That’s a pretty great story right there, but things get more interesting when Pi is stranded on a lifeboat with a tiger, a hyena and a zebra. Okay, there’s actually not too much math in this story, but it’s a great read, the movie has amazing animation and the kid’s name is Pi.

Hidden FiguresHidden Figures
This is a book about human computers. No, it’s not sci-fi; it’s the non-fiction bestseller by Margot Lee Shetterly that inspired the acclaimed movie about female African-American mathematicians at NASA. They were called human computers because, like, they did computations. Set during World War II, the Space Race and the Civil Rights Movement, the book profiles four ladies who were among the space program’s unsung heroes. Continue reading

Literary Heartbreakers…or Literally Heartbreaking?

I’m a sucker for a happy ending.  Unfortunately, some of my favorite literary characters don’t get that happy ending, whether it’s because they themselves are heartbreakers or because the story they have been written into is literally heartbreaking (sometimes, it’s a little bit of both).  But whether it’s the character or the author that breaks our heart, we have to admit they are impossible to forget.

Here are five heartbreakers and five heartbreaking stories that we can’t seem to quit.

Heartbreakers

prideandprejudice_19George Wickham from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice—He may have all the appearance of goodness, but looks can be deceiving.

giphyRhett Butler from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind—Heartbreaker or heartbroken? He may be a little of both, but he don’t give a damn.

Continue reading

And the Oscar goes to…Kevin Bacon!

Hooray for Hollywood! The 89th Academy Awards will be giving out their most coveted statue, the Oscar, in about a month. The best race this year is between Emma Stone and Natalie Portman, but we want to make a case for — you guessed it — Kevin Bacon. Here is a fun graphic taking all the lead actors and actresses and connecting them to Kevin Bacon. Maybe you can do one using all Oscar winners! For instance, Natalie Portman who is nominated for Jackie and won Best Actress for Black Swan was in Closer with Julia Roberts (Best Actress in Erin Brockovich) who was in Flatliners with…Kevin Bacon. Who are you predicting to win? Enjoy the Oscars on Sunday, February 26 at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on ABC.

2017-oscar-blog

Jim is Art Director at Half Price Books Corporate

Local Store Events Round-Up: January 2017

store-events-hdr_update

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

ARIZONA

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!

MLK Day Storytime
We’re honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a children’s storytime. Come to your Camelback HPB in Phoenix on Sunday, January 15, from 2 to 4 p.m., when we will read stories featuring Dr. King. Light refreshments will be available as well as a FREE pre-selected kid’s book while supplies last.

Dress Up Your Pet Day Offers
Your Camelback HPB in Phoenix is celebrating National Dress Up Your Pet Day on Wednesday, January 18. Shop with your pet for 10% off your ENTIRE purchase or bring in your dressed-up pet and get 20% off your ENTIRE purchase. HPB is a pet-friendly company that welcomes friendly, obedient pets on leashes. Offer cannot be used to purchase gift cards. Continue reading

Local Store Events Round-Up: December 2016

store-events-hdr_update

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

ALL STORES

$5 Bonus Card with a $25 Gift Card Purchase
‘Tis the season to grab a gift card for the booklover on your shopping list and get a little something for yourself! Load an HPB Gift Card with $25 or more and get a $5 Bonus Card to use in store plus a special offer for HPB.com! Bring back your $5 card January 1 – 31 and save at your favorite HPB store. This bonus offer is valid for gift card purchases made in-store or online now through Saturday, December 24. Buy a gift card online and get free standard shipping. Sorry, but HPB Gift Cards, coupons and other discounts cannot be used at Half Price Books Outlets. Got questions about gift cards? Check out our FAQs or contact our Gift Card Customer Service.

ARIZONA

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!

CALIFORNIA

Citrus Heights
Storytime Sundays
Pack up your half-pint readers and come to your Citrus Heights HPB for Storytime Sundays. Sit down and enjoy a good tale with us at 2 p.m. every Sunday. All ages are welcome! Continue reading