50 Years of Buying and Selling to Booklovers Nationwide

When the first Half Price Bookstore welcomed customers on July 27, 1972, there was no telling what the future held. What founders Ken Gjemre and Pat Anderson saw as endless potential behind the doors of an old laundromat in Dallas, Texas, turned into what is arguably the most beloved chain of bookstores across America.

And it’s no wonder.

Throughout the years, as the number of books bought and sold has increased, Half Price Books’ mission of being fair to employees and customers, promoting literacy and being kind to the environment while remaining financially viable is intact. One thing’s for sure: The HPB story isn’t exactly linear. We’ve had our fair share of bumps in the road…and even a couple of animal adventures along the way, but we’re still here. Thanks to the sweet combination of tenacity from employees and loyalty from customers, Half Price Books has managed to survive, and thrive, for 50 years.

Make no mistake. This isn’t just our celebration. If you’ve ever wandered into one of our stores to pick up a little something, whether it was the latest LP from your favorite rock band or the romance novel your significant other simply couldn’t do without, HPB’s 50th Anniversary is a part of your story, too.

We couldn’t have done it without you. Here’s to the next chapter: 50 more years of buying and selling to our beloved booklovers.

While you’re here, why not take a walk down memory lane with us? Check out the timeline below for a curiouser and curiouser list of HPB facts from the last 50 years (bonus points if you can name the famous children’s book we’re referencing there) and shout out your favorite HPB memory in the comments!


Our story begins! Pat Anderson and Ken Gjemre open the first Half Price Books store in a converted Laundromat in Dallas, Texas.


We expanded to our first state outside of Texas… Wisconsin!


A deer crashed through the front window of HPB Maplewood in Minnesota and decided to browse the shelves a bit before making its way back out into the wild.


Half Price Books conducted its first “Bedtime Storybook Contest” and published the first edition of Say Good Night to Illiteracy with the top 20 stories submitted by customers and chosen by librarians, teachers and writers.


Half Price Books founder Pat Anderson passes away, ushering in the leadership of her youngest daughter, Sharon Anderson Wright.


HPB encourages customers to donate a book and rewrite a kid’s story with the kickoff of its annual Half Pint Library Book Drive.


Thousands of bees made a buzz in front of HPB Cedar Hill before the assistant manager bravely sequestered the area and called for their removal.


Half Price Books pledges to donate 1 million books per year to domestic charitable organizations via The Million Book Donation Project.


A bat was found clinging to the ceiling of the break area at our HPB Bandera location in San Antonio, TX.

Meanwhile, at HPB Maplewood in Minnesota, a pet snake was found as a stowaway in a box of children’s books at the Buy Counter.


HPB’s CEO, Sharon Anderson Wright, is featured in a Fortune magazine article that lauds the company’s ability to defy the anti-brick-and-mortar bookstore trend.

Later in the year, lovers of vampire lore poured into the Flagship HPB to catch a rare glimpse of renowned gothic fiction author Anne Rice at one of our most well-attended store signings to date.


Colleen Hoover’s author event brought the sizzling romance of her novel, Regretting You, and a sweeping fan base to the Flagship HPB.


Tuna, the Instagram celebrity dog, put his best paw forward during a meet-and-greet with 200 fans at HPB Northpointe Plaza in Cleveland, Ohio.


A therapy pony pranced its way into the hearts of customers and employees alike at our Southpark Meadows location in Austin, Texas.

Meanwhile, Dav Pilkey and his beloved children’s book characters captured the hearts of more than 3,000 children and parents during his Do Good Tour stop at the Wiley G. Thomas Coliseum in Haltom City, TX.

Actor and author Neil Patrick Harris also kept the kids reading in 2019 and met up with HPB at Texas Hall at UT Arlington to promote the third installment of his series, The Magic Misfits.


Employee pups far and wide helped Half Price Books employees get through the pandemic by manning the floors and making themselves available for belly rubs.


In a rare in-store cat appearance, Fernando the Cat stopped by HPB St. Louis Park to give the employees a good glimpse of his mohawk (caused by a bit of grooming trouble) and find all of the perfect hiding spots.


Plastic Bag Free by 2023! Half Price Books made the pledge to put plastic bags in the past by making them available by request only at stores across the country.

HPB turns the big 5-0!

This post has 41 Comments.

  • I’ve been shopping at HPB since 1982 and have loved it all these years! Congratulations and thanks for keeping me and my family
    supplied with wonderful books for 40 years.
    Barbara Bilenker

  • HPB is really and truly my #1 happy place. It has been for years. I’d request of my children to spread some of my ashes there when I pass away, but I’m pretty sure it’s illegal. 🙂

  • One of two of the best things that I discovered when moving to Minnesota over two decades ago – The MN State Fair and Half Price Books…Love the place! Happy 50th!

  • I remember that first store… Located on Garland Rd. about 1/2 mile east of the current Dallas Botanical Gardens, if memory serves. My grandmother used to live right across the street. I was 16 years old.

  • Awesome! I still recall the excitement when my hometown, Irving, got their HPB store on Beltline. Loved taking my excited children there to buy treasured story books! Here’s to 50 more!

  • Congratulations on your 50th Anniversary!!
    We are very satisfied returning customers for 47 of those 50 years from Maplewood MN, Carrollton TX, Houston TX, and now Fort Worth TX!

  • What a wonderful idea was brought forth ……the stores in Illinois and in Arizona are superb as are the workers in them….congrats and may you thrive for at least another 50

  • I discovered the HPB on Broadway in San Antonio many years ago when books were piled on the floor. Now my son knows he can never go wrong with a HPB gift card.

  • Happy Anniversary! I love Half Price (one of my “happy places”)!! I love the clearance sections, and I buy ALL of my Christmas cards (and many Christmas Gifts) at either the Highland or St Louis Park, Minnesota stores. YOU ROCK!

  • Nothing, I mean nothing, beats a great book! Spent 20 years in Corpus Christi, Tx. Not only a great bookstore, but a coffee shop too!!

  • Congratulations HPB on your anniversary! I’ve been going to my all-tie favorite store for many years and you have provided my safe place. Some go to bars for solace, some seek out companionship. I head to HPB, and spend several hours browsing and buying, not only books but many other items. Thank you for being there and fueling my book addiction. I hope you’re around for another 50 years.

  • Please establish a store in Southeastern Michigan. It’s a long drive your nearest store near Cleveland and much as I love the fact you are online, as a true book lover I have to say there is nothing like being in a bookstore!

  • We love to look for great books that are sometimes hard to find. Our fave stores are 2 in SW Fort Worth and 1 in Burleson TX.
    It’s good to return books for small credits.

  • Happy Anniversary and thanks for the very interesting history lesson. The book you’re referencing is Alice in Wonderland. My favorite memory covers three years of Saturday’s. In 2017 til 2020 (covid closures) our volunteer group, Fort Bend Pets Alive held a monthly program called Meow Buddies. We would bring in shelter cats in large cages and have children sit and read to them. Almost every month a cat or two were adopted, saving their lives. The staff and especially the Manager Will at the Sugar Land Texas store were all very helpful and everyone enjoyed the afternoons–moms, dads, children and cats!

  • Happy Birthday. Thanks for sharing through the years. I love our store in Schaumburg, IL and Bloomingdale, IL.

  • Visiting two stores, one in Illinois several times and another in Wisconsin once–nothing but great times. Seeing items both familiar and not so familiar, priceless.
    Here’s to the next 50 years, from a guy who also entered the world in 1972–albeit a few weeks later.

  • I love my half price books In Houston tx love going such great people working there Andrea at Kirk wood half price books is great person working there allways helping

  • Reading has always been such an integral part of my family and HPB has been our favorite go-to for over 25 years. One son is an author and the other worked in the HPB corporate office for several years, so the HPB family feels like part of our family. We enjoyed several HPB stores in Central Texas when we lived there, and happily an HPB opened up in Tyler, TX a few years after we moved here. Happy Anniversary HPB – here’s to many more years together!

  • I remember the HPB at old downtown Plano, TX a magical little place. Then I discovered the old location on Abrams in Dallas with the Tudor facade where my kids learned to love books roaming through the nooks and crannies of that old building. Now I do most of my shopping at HPB on line or at the Frisco brick and mortar down the street where, like the other stores, you never know what you might discover.

  • We love our Monroeville Store. They are very helpful and if I don’t find what I want they transfer books in. I haven’t been to Barnes and Nobles for years.

  • Happy anniversary, HPB, and here’s to many more! I can’t imagine not being a dedicated shopper and visiting ALL the stores in my home and surrounding cities on a regular basis.

    Thank you for being an unwilling accomplice in helping me spend my work paychecks and build a robust classic Hollywood musical collection!

  • Can anyone tell me what years HPB was oneast side of where flagship store is in Dallas, please? That is when I started shopping with you. My family loves HALF PRICE BOOKS!!!

  • I discovered HPB at a location in San Antonio when I was in the Air Force back in 1982. When I was stationed else where I did not hear of HPB again for years and years. Ultimately 30 years later after settling down in my hometown of St. Louis, I not only heard that HPB was still around but that it was coming to St. Louis! And not only one store opened, but THREE!!!! Thank You HPB!!!! Thank You for connecting me with all the obscure and out of print books that I have now that I otherwise thought I would never own!

  • Happy 50th Birthday! HPB has had many animal adventures. The Bryan/CS stores had moles, ferrets, bats, and other assorted creatures come into the stores. I loved working at HPB from 1984-1988. It was a great learning experience which I wouldn’t trade for anything!

  • Happy 50th HPB!

    I started working at the Clear Lake City, TX store in 1988 while I was in graduate school. I met my wife, who worked at the University HPB (now closed), at the annual Christmas party for employees. After we married we transferred to the Kirkwood HPB. I left HPB in 1996.

    It was a great experience working for HPB, I have a lot of great memories. Here’s to another 50 years.

    It wa

  • My husband and I love our Rockford Illinois store. Always very pleasant staff that help with any questions!!😁

  • Favorite locations are the Lewisville & Fort Worth – Hulen stores. I would say 30 years minimum fan. As a bookworm, HPB is my stop after the public library.

  • Love the Olympia, WA store. Started shopping here when it opened on the Westside.

  • The stores in Western Washington are so great and part of the community, I once thought HPB was based here. I frequently go to the Redmond store and Lynnwood store. Love them all! Keep up the great work. Happy 50th!!

  • Thank you for opening a store in Boise, Idaho. I no longer have to wait to visit family in Texas to shop in one! It’s a great store and the staff is over the top in friendliness and helpfulness. Thanks, again!

  • Congratulations for 50 wonderful years. AND …. Thank you for coming to Omaha Nebraska. We love your store.

  • I am very happy that I live walking distance from the St Louis Park (MN) store. I love to look for specific authors and just browse, especially for mysteries. I hope you continue to thrive as you are much appreciated,

  • I have been a customer for 45 years! (My store is the Flagship store) THANK YOU for so many years of great reading and listening. Always a treasure hunt! Cheers!