Half Price Books, Records, Magazines, Incorporated is the largest family-owned chain of new and used bookstores in the United States. The company’s original motto is "We buy and sell anything printed or recorded except yesterday's newspaper", and many of the used books, music, and movies for sale in each location are purchased from local residents. The corporate office is located in the flagship Northwest Highway location in Dallas, Texas. Half Price Books now operates more than 120 stores (including outlets) in 17 states.
Founders Ken Gjemre and Pat Anderson opened the first store in 1972 in a former laundromat in Dallas, Texas, filling the shelves with 2,000 books out of their personal libraries. Pat Anderson’s daughter, Sharon Anderson Wright, is the company’s current President and CEO. In 2009, Sharon's sister Ellen O'Neal stepped up to the position of Chairperson of the Board in order to become more involved with the family business.
Half Price Books has recently expanded into the outlet store business in Bloomington, Indiana; Bowling Green, Kentucky; Rockford, Illinois; and Olympia, Washington.
The Half Price Books original mission statement includes the promise to “promote literacy and be kind to the environment." Teachers and librarians, for example, are offered a year-round 10% discount on purchases. Each year, every Half Price Books store holds a book drive to collect new or gently used children's books, building “Half Pint Libraries” at pediatric hospitals and special-needs clinics in the communities it serves.
The company has promoted recycling and reusing, and the sound management of paper, energy and water resources. In 2008, Half Price Books launched a formal environmental education initiative called “B(eco)me Green” to help spread knowledge about the health of the environment.
In addition, the chain donates millions of books and its overstock inventory to non-profit organizations around the world such as Feed the Children and American Red Cross. It also gives some of its books to Better World Books, a for-profit on-line bookseller.
Half Price Books publishes some of the books it sells, inexpensively reprinting non-copyrighted titles or acquiring the U.S. or English language rights from another publisher. Half Price Books reprints these titles under its publishing arm, Hackberry Press.
Among Hackberry Press titles is the Half Price Books children's storybook series Say Good Night to Illiteracy, with 13 editions in print. All proceeds from the series benefit family literacy organizations such as Reach Out and Read and the National Center for Family Literacy.
The company is a strong proponent of the First Amendment freedom of speech and Americans’ right to knowledge and the expression of ideas. Its website “deletecensorship.org” supports imaginative and courageous books, including those that address controversial topics and have been censored or banned.
The wholesale division of Half Price Books is Texas Bookman, also headquartered in Dallas. Texas Bookman sells trade and scholarly remainders at discount prices to wholesale buyers around the world.