Half Price Books, although a national chain (the first store was actually in Dallas), always feels like a local bookstore. In Houston, this is no different. With several locations in the Houston area, a Half Price Books is never far away.
For those who have never visited, Half Price Books is exactly that. Books at half the cover price. Used DVDs and Blu-rays, magazines, CDs, vinyl records, manga, and even video games are all neatly put on bookshelves begging to be searched. Books are divided by genre, and most of the store is sorted alphabetically by author (except in some instances, for instance Sci-Fi/Fantasy may be “alpha by series”). What the store has available in their inventory is purely dependent on what people have come in to sell. So that brand new novel you wanted that came out last week most likely won’t be there, but that copy of “Huck Finn” you need for an English class will be for three dollars. (Be aware that most items for sale at Half Price Books are USED. Be sure to inspect the quality before you purchase.) The staff is almost always super-friendly and helpful.
So what about comics? Regular comics will be half the cover price (with the exception of certain collectible issues). What Half Price Books is great for when comic-hunting, is when you’re not looking for anything specific. If you just want to peruse and see what you find, you are guaranteed to find some gems. Most of the comics are usually from either the 80s, 90s, or 2000s, so expect issues to run $0.50-$3 a piece (depending on original prices). Be prepared to dig for a while. You may be going through hundreds of comics like Spider-Girl or X-Force before you find that amazing issue of Batman you never knew existed where he battles Richard Nixon (or whatever it is you’re into). So, if you’ve got time to kill, and a light wallet, Half Price is a fantastic place to browse.
Also, Half Price Books has graphic novels at…you guessed it…half price. This is an EXCELLENT way to build your graphic novel library at a fraction of cover price (…the fraction being 1/2…). Like stated above, the best thing to expect is to go not looking for anything in particular. Since their inventory regularly changes, next month may have completely different books than the last time you went. Which, actually, is one of the few downsides. Half Price Books is not a good store to put down a book and say “maybe next time I’m here”, because, in all likelihood, it won’t be there anymore. Since graphic novels tend to be on the expensive side (14.99-29.99, usually), getting them at half price is a bargain. The older graphic novel collections, which use to print for cheaper, will still be half price the original price. An 80s printing of “Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” by Alan Moore will be at $2.49 (original price $4.99) whereas a new printing (circa 2000s) runs $7.49 (original price $14.99). The available selection may seem all over the place or random (Captain Britain?), but the patient digger will be the customer most likely to find the diamond in the rough.
To close, Half Price Books is a perfect book store for comic and graphic novel fans that maybe want to spruce up their collections of older titles (or catch up on ones they missed). They probably won’t have Batman and Robin: Vol. 3 by Grant Morrison (released in May), but they might just have Spider-Man’s Torment by Todd McFarlane (released in the 90s). Strongly recommended for people for like browsing or want to kill some time and walk away with something unexpected and awesome. 4 stars out of 5.