Sunday, August 21, 2016

Half Price Books, 2016

I worked at the Hurst-Euless-Bedford (Ft. Worth) Half Price Books for a few months back in 1988, was a shopper in Austin before and after that time. In the '90s, my hair place was at 32nd and Guadalupe and the Half Price right next door. Every 6 weeks or so, I'd enjoy the day-long ritual of getting my hair cut at Zig-Zag and then going next door to browse for hours (usually completing the ritual by getting a Thundercloud sandwich before going home). By the 2000s, though, rent drove that Half Price out of that location, to a much bigger place further north, which I never visited at all because it was so out of the way (and also because of the advent of Amazon).

I now live north, and I now have a CAR (hoorah!), and I today went over to this Half Price for the first time ever. Half Price/Goodwill store/KFC all in the same complex! A full day, with food to take home after!

It was a big, clean store, but... Over a decade ago, Half Price changed its policy of charging half of the COVER price of the year the book was issued. Back then, if there was a book at a 1980 price of $5.00, the Half Price rate would be $2.50. Today, though, even if the book is from 1980 and there's a $5 price printed on the cover, the store will instead determine how much the same book is being sold for today and then mark it as half off TODAY's price. Which leads to many non-bargains. Which today, Amazon thankfully makes us aware of. I saw so many shitty, marked-up paperbacks today at Half Price priced ridiculously at $7.99, etc., which I know would go for .01 plus $3.99 shipping online. I liked being able to used-book shop in person, but I was also irritated by the mark-ups that went beyond the initial raison d'etre of the store.

I was, though, able to find a few things either in the "Nostalgia" (good stuff that the minimum-wage clerks didn't realize was valuable) or "Bargain" sections of the store: "The Romantic Egoists" ($9.99), a Diane Arbus paperback from '72 ($9.99), and $3 discounted DVDs of "Angels in America," "Mad Men" (Season 2), and "Rio Bravo."

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