101 Things To Do in Greater Austin, Tx #20 Half Price Books

20. Read a Book…’Old-School’ style…at Half Price Books!

Not gonna lie…these days I mostly read books on my phone. Who doesn’t? But, once in a while, I do crave the feeling of an old fashioned book in my hands. It’s not sexy but there’s just something comforting about it…like meatloaf. My apologies to those of you who belong to the ‘Meatloaf Is Sexy, Dammit!’ Meetup group. Also, I’m a big ‘read in the tub’ person and if I accidentally drop a book in the water, no harm no foul. I can just dry it out. Not so with my iphone.

So, I’ve noticed there are alot of these Half Price Books stores all over the area here. I recently decided to stop in and have a look around the Round Rock store. I fully expected to encounter a slightly musty space with just a hint of patchouli stink (sorry patchouli, I know you’re misunderstood but you give me a headache) and piles of slightly dusty books scattered willy-nilly on old card tables and rickety shelves. I am So ‘Judge-y’! Haha But, hey, you kinda’ have to be to write a blog. Otherwise, how boring! Right?

FullSizeRender (2)Anyway, as often seems to happen to me here in the good ol’ state of Texas, my preconceived notions were blown right out of the water as soon as I walked in the door of Half Price Books! Oh Texas, when will you stop making an ass out of me? (Oh yeah-I guess when I quit assuming! ;P) The store was big, attractive, and organized…not to mention it smelled fresh and was nice and bright (ya’ know…just like the starts here in Tx). I felt like I had walked into a Barnes & Noble or something. Truly surprising!

Also unexpected was the fact that Half Price Books sells not only new and used books (and textbooks) but they also have an impressive selection of used cds, dvds, vinyl record albums, comic books, puzzles, board games, video games and on and on…all in very good condition…not to mention a large selection of miscellaneous (brand spankin’ new) gift items! They’re just like one of the big name stores with one Yuge (I really should start calling my blog ‘Yuge’!) exception…LOW PRICES!

For example, you can buy ‘A Handmaid’s Tale’, currently a Best-Seller, brand new in paperback for $8.69 on Amazon. At Half Price Books, you can get it new for $5.99. I know Amazon is convenient…I am a…wait for it…YUGE Amazon fan! But, I also like saving $$ whenever possible and a trip to the bookstore is alot of fun and feels quite nostalgic at this point.

Today, Half Price Books has hundreds of stores all over the country, with many of them in Texas. But, they started out with very humble beginnings in an old laundromat in Dallas in 1972. They’ve only been in the Round Rock location for a year and a half. I spoke to Jared, the super nice and knowledgeable assistant manager, when I visited the store last month. He says it’s a great place to work and that staff sticks around…which I have to imagine is unusual for retail, no? He tells me they treat their employees well and promote from within. He, himself, has been with the company for 15 years…so that says alot! I would have included his pic but the store is a little weird about people taking pics. Most of the ones in this post are from the ‘interwebs’.

As nice as the store was, the big question in my mind while I visited was, How the heck does a brick and mortar bookstore stay open in this day and age of ebooks? Not only is Half Price Books staying open, they are opening more stores all the time! As I perused their very ‘user friendly’ website, I think I got my question at least partially answered. Here’s their Mission Statement…”

“Be fair to customers and our employees, promote literacy, be kind to the environment and remain financially viable so we may continue.”

— Our Mission Statement in the words of HPB Co-Founder Pat Anderson

I love that they mention being kind to the environment as such a big part of who they are! They try to use recycled materials in all their store build-outs and they do alot of reusing, recycling, and donating in an effort to keep books out of landfills and also promote literacy in their neighborhoods. According to their website, they’ve donated over 1,000,000 books to non-profit groups so far this year…and Hey teachers! They offer a 10% Educator Discount for you. What’s not to love? Oh, and I should mention that their Kid’s Section is ‘Totes Adorbs!’

Happy ReaderOverall, I think it’s probably a combination of the large (eclectic & uncensored) selection of books/etc., Awesome prices, well done website, happy and helpful employees, pleasant store atmosphere…and their commitment to the environment and community literacy (of course!) that keeps customers coming back for more. Bonus: You can sell your used books, dvds, etc. there. Obviously! They have to get their used merchandise somehow, right? But, keep your day job! You ain’t gonna get rich selling to them. When I went, I brought two brand new paperbacks and they only gave me a dollar…for Both! :O When I asked why, they said the amount they give depends upon the demand. They already had a couple copies of the books I gave them so…Oh well. A buck’s a buck, right?
So, I highly recommend a visit to Half Price Books today! You’ll feel like you went back in time (just a little bit) and likely leave with a smile on your face…and maybe some great book deals in your reuseable tote bag (that you remembered to bring, right?). Don’t worry if you forget-they’ll be happy to sell you one so you can do your part for the environment. 😉

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