Monday, February 15, 2016

[Bin Beat] Half-Price Books - Valentine's Day Weekend

Another weekend, another visit to the cheap-o bins.  This week I'm going to share some neat finds and discuss a few issues you may run into "in the wild".  This weekend featured a 20% off coupon from Half-Price Books.  This marks all of the books in the quarter bin down to 20 cents, and makes even terrible looking books seem enticing.

We have three HPB locations within driving distance, and we visited two.  Fairly decent finds, though nothing earth-shattering.  Things I would normally pass up if I came across it in a 50 cent or dollar bin.  Five for a buck was too good to refuse.

The regular (read: non-clearance) comic bins at Half-Price Books seem to be going through something of an evolution.  It used to be that their bins were quite similar to any back-issue assortment in a comic book store.  Of late, however, two of the three local HPBs have taken to not bagging, pricing, or even sorting their non-clearance offerings.  It is supposed to be understood that the books will be half of cover price, although it sometimes creates a hassle at the register.

A few months ago I was able to find several early 80s Batman issues in those bins.  Cover prices ranged from 50 to 60 cents.  When I got to the register, they alluded like they may have simply forgotten to mark them.  The poor girl at the register was confused as to whether or not she should let these books go for 25-30 cents a pop.  She didn't want to make a mistake and cost the store... she also didn't want to upset a customer who just happened to be in the right place at the right time.  She ultimately sold me the books for 25-30 cents each after conferring with her manager.

The entire exchange was incredibly uncomfortable, I felt like a goofball standing there, and I really wish they would go back to their old way of stocking their non-clearance books.  The bins are now a complete mess.  Some books, as stated are not priced, and are just thrown in slipshod, and yet there are others... bagged, boarded, and priced ridiculously high.  I can find a 40 year old issue of Batman for a quarter next to an issue of New-52 era Stormwatch tagged at $10.00.

The comics are clearly not the priority of a used bookstore, however, I think it should be at least an inviting area of the shop.  Their trade paperback section has also changed of late.  Many of these books are no longer half-price.  I've seen this mentioned on some of the blogs I follow, including Comic Reviews By Walt... "Out of Print" books are rapidly taking over the trade/graphic novel sections in Half-Price Books.

It used to be that you may run into a couple of OOP books, those ones you'd get excited to see... thinking you were about to snag a trade you'd missed out on a decade earlier for half of cover price, only to face severe sticker-shock when you remove the book from the shelf.  On this visit, however... I'm no mathemagician, but it felt as though most every book that caught my eye was marked OOP and priced at at the very least $10 above cover-price.  This is at one HPB in particular.  The other local store, while having the same OOP infestation, never marks them above cover price.

The silliest part about this is that many of the comic book stores in the area carry tons of old and out of print books in their ever-growing TPB sections... and almost never mark them up.  Actually, I often see the out of print books in the clearance section because their trade-dress/spines are different than contemporary releases, which affects the aesthetic of the shelves.

Anyhoo, those are just a few observations and annoyances from this weeks outing.

These visits were fairly productive, filling holes-wise.

I was glad to stumble upon a cache of Hex comics.  It is a series that had fascinated me ever since I'd heard of it.  I have a few of the issues in the library already, though have not read them yet.

Early New-52 Green Arrow comics are one's that HPB had priced at $5.00 apiece.  I am glad I waited them out.  These are more books I missed during my post-Flashpoint tantrum.

As for the rest, just some stuff that caught my eye.  Hawkman (vol.2) #1, Day of Judgment Secret Files & Origins (ANYtime I see a Secret Files & Origins in the cheap-o bin I grab it), Fate #1, Damage #1, and Darkseid #1 (from New Year's Evil) are curiosities... looking forward to checking them out.
For some non-DC finds.  I lucked across some old Marvel G.I. Joe: ARAH comics.  These were previously in their non-clearance section, and were priced (in my opinion) quite unreasonably.  Savage Dragon is another series I try to fill holes for on the cheap.

Huck #1 came out only a few months back, and was one I was curious about... for 20 cents, I really had no excuse not to grab it.  This kind of thing happens all the time, by the way... books that are only a month or few old WILL wind up in the quarter-bin.  Sometimes its an oversight, sometimes the HPB store just gets a pile of the same issue (likely from a local comic shop who inflated their orders to snag a super-ultra-rare variant cover).  That having been said, even if you are not into older books, have a sit-down and flip through your cheap-o bins at Half-Price Books... you may find something you passed on a week earlier because of its $3.99 or $4.99 cover price for under a buck!

To close, here's a pop quiz:

Half-Price Books comic book sections are pretty small.  Too small for several comics enthusiasts to browse at one time.  If you approach the comic section and find another comics enthusiast has gotten there first, what do you do?

a. Decide to browse other parts of the store while s/he continues to flip through the comics.
b. Stand directly behind the other comics enthusiast, and breathe heavily through your mouth.
c. Walk by several times, making sure to sigh and stomp louder each time you pass.
d. Try and squeeze in anyway, ruining the experience for both parties.

(answer: a., you wait until your fellow comics enthusiast is done with their hunt before you start your own.  You wouldn't want somebody to try to ruin your time at the bins, so you shouldn't try to ruin it for them.)

Now, I know I've dogged on HPB a bit here, but honestly, warts and all it's still a great place to hunt for comics.  It's one of my favorite haunts, and I rarely leave (completely) disappointed.

Thanks for reading.


  1. Great post!

    For the pop quiz: I'd say (a) or a mix of a & d.

    To me...basic courtesy and respect, and I try to "do unto others as I'd have them do unto me." Side-by-side, standing back so the other CAN reach in if they see something they want to check, while also being aware of anyone trying to come down the aisle or interested in the shelf my back is to, etc.

    I'm not going to crowd into their personal space or insert myself between them and the shelf they're looking at; but I will allow my presence to indicate that there IS someone else interested in the section. I did nearly lose my patience at one last year, where someone had parked himself on the floor right up against/facing the Marvel/DC section and was simply sitting there reading one book cover to cover. About the time I was finally ready to ask him if I could "cut in" he noticed and voluntarily moved to continue reading while allowing me browse-access.

    Similar thoughts for me, a definite "etiquette" for small spaces and multiple people all interested in the entirety of the stock in teh small space.

    I used my 20% coupon for the Gil Kane, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez Adventures of Superman hardcovers, and the DC Universe: Legacies by Len Wein paperback.

    I rarely (if ever) actually look at the comics anymore, finding them such a mess and overpriced.

    I entertain the notion of possibly "making an offer" on the one Batman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told sometime...I think they have a code indicating the date they acquired it, and point out that's been THIS many months and it hasn't sold, I've been interested in it since seeing it there a couple MONTHS ago...would they accept half of cover price (or 2/3 cover price).

    Pretty sure it's still available at my LCS at cover price.

  2. Hello Walt! Thank you for your reply. I've long enjoyed your work, and I appreciate you taking the time to check out mine.

    The etiquette issue is pretty big for me when it comes to trawling the bins. For whatever reason (probably the tight squeeze) Half-Price Books is the most challenging. I actually had a dude press his midsection into the back of my head while I was flipping through the quarter bins (which are under the "regular" bins). It was the first time I actually had to tell a guy to back off.

    Sounds like you made some good finds this weekend! Funny thing, I was able to snag both the Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told and the Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told (the Warner Books versions) at HPB before they started with their "out of print" fixation. Grabbed them both for under $10 each... though, this was a couple of years back.

    This weekend the only trade that caught my eye was a Spawn book from a couple of years back, The Spawn Endgame Collection. I figured it'd be a decent read, however, when I took it off the shelf it was priced at $60.00 ... This is a book available at all local comic shops at cover price. Hell, it's on Amazon for $20 right now. It's things like this that I really don't understand.

    Again, thank you for the reply!


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