Wednesday, July 22, 2015

On Getting Mugged by Half Price Books

I love shopping at my local Half Price Books bookstore because I never know what I might find.  I have to say, though, that the selection was much more surprising and exciting ten years ago than it is today because Half Price Books seems to concentrate now more on current fiction than it did in the chain's earlier days.  Too, "collector books," and to Half Price that's anything published before 1960 regardless of condition, have been granted a section of their own - where they are most often overpriced and underwhelming.

But that's not why I am irked at Half Price today.

No, what I find hard to understand is why anyone wants to sell anything TO Half Price because the chain's cash offers generally come in somewhere between ludicrous and insulting.  Case in point: I brought 35 hardcovers and a couple of large paperbacks to the store today to see what they would pay for them and the offer I received pegs out the "Insulting" end of their offer scale.

Are you ready for this?  The offer was for $ in all in. That, friends, is just a hair over ten cents a book, twenty or so of which the clerk admitted would be placed on their shelves at prices ranging from $4 to $7 dollars each.  The others they say would be donated to a charity of some sort.  

I have a bad foot at the moment and cannot walk without a good bit of pain, so I just could not see packing the books out to my car and lugging them to the local hospital (which is where I should have gone in the first place).  So I took the petty change and walked out with an attitude.  Thanks for making my day Half Price Books.

I simply don't understand why anyone would sell to Half Price Books...ever.  And for me, "ever" has now turned into "never."  As in never again will I be ripped off by a major book chain like Half Price Books.

Post # 2,513


  1. I caught on to this several years ago. The fiction section at the Half Price Books in Concord,, CA, is next to the buying counter so while I browse I can hear people picking up their offer which is always very, very low. it constantly broke my heart.

    Used to be that a second hand store would divide my books into small piles based on what they would pay for each. They were up front about which books had value and which ones they would not accept. Giving a single lump sum without telling you which ones are worth what always struck me as dishonest.

    So, I do buy from Half Price Books, which is still as good as ever here in the Bay Area, but I donate my used books to my local Friends of the Library.

    1. I remember the days, James, when Half Price Books gave competitive and decent bids for used books brought to them. I knew that their offers were progressively getting smaller and smaller every year, but this 10 cents per book offer was ridiculous. But, insulted as I felt, my physical problems of the moment really made it difficult for me to even consider making the number of trips to my car that it would take to load the 40 books back into my car.

      I've donated at a local hospital here before and that's what I will do next time. They put the books in the gift shop at something like a buck a book so that folks trapped there for hours, or even days, at a time will have something to help kill a little time with.

      Now, Half Price Books has contacted me via a tweet this afternoon. I'll give them that much credit...but all they really said is that they would "welcome my feedback." I doubt that I will bother.

    2. BTW, I often notice the books that Half Price keeps locked up for sale because they are in the $50+ price range and wonder what they paid for them when they were brought in.

  2. How disappointing. I've had a number of problems with HPB over the years mostly surrounding selling books to them. I rarely shop there these days because their selection has really gone downhill. Used to be I could walk out with a pile of books and now I often leave without buying anything.

    1. I've had the same experience, Stefanie, many times...walking out empty-handed because nothing appealed to me. In the chain's early days, I could always expect to find two or three older books that were interesting (and I made some really great unexpected autographed books finds back then). But these days it seems to be all about former bestsellers when it comes to fiction sales.

      I brought 80 books to my Friends of the Library group here this morning and they were thrilled to get them. They will be put on sale for $3 a piece and all the money will go to the library system. If I'm going to be forced to give them away anyway, the funds will do more good this way and I'm happy to contribute.

      I think Half Price Books has lost its "mission" since the founder died. Just saying.