Half Price Books is still thriving, 45 years later

While Borders succumbed to bankruptcy at 40 years old, and Barnes & Noble’s financial strife has yet to be cured, the Grim Reaper isn’t coming for Half Price Books any time soon.

The Dallas-based bookstore chain just celebrated its 45th birthday with more than 120 locations in 16 states. Its average revenue is $230 million, D Magazine reported in 2011.

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In a market that e-commerce companies like Amazon and Apple currently dominate, Half Price Books— whose flagship store is located at the edge of our neighborhood — is flourishing.

“I think we were already positioned to deal with this world,” CEO Sharon Anderson Wright told D. “We’ve always done well in good times and bad times. When the economy is way down, people can afford to come and buy a bunch of books. The crazier things get, the calmness of a book is going to be even more appealing.”

Texas Monthly’s Dan Solomon delved into the company’s success in “An Ode to Half Price Books.” Full disclosure: Solomon started working for the chain at age 22 and married one of his co-workers, so he’s incredibly attached to the bookstore.

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“After 45 years, Half Price is an institution in Texas,” Solomon writes. “Forty-five of those 122 stores are right here, in Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, College Station, Tyler, and more. Some are brightly-lit retailers that recall big-box stores. Others are small, with walls decorated with beat-up paperback covers and old records lovingly displayed by employees who quit working there years earlier. But no matter the size, the stores beckon not only bargain-hunters, but those who seek the immediate gratification of a physical purchase that a click on Amazon Prime just can’t provide.”

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  • dormand

    According to the business strategic gurus, the winners in any industry will inevitably be a ) the quality leader and b ) the provider with the lowest costs.

    It is no surprise that Half Price Books is thriving as its cost of its books is minimal, and they do a good job of sourcing locations that have both low cost and convenience of access to a critical mass of heavy readers, with adequate parking.

    Those who give back to the community should be aware that Half Price Books has long had the practice of donating books to charitable organizations that provide upward mobility to underserved populations.

    HPB has long been a great safety net for very capable people whose careers have been imploded by economic factors, by offering employment to book lovers who are between career segments.

    We always enjoy getting HPB gift cards, whatever the occasion.

    HPB is a good corporate citizen, in my humble opinion.

    We are delighted to see their continued success.

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