3207 Broadway, San Antonio, TX
Let me start off by saying that I’m cheating a little here. This blog is about hyping small independent bookshops, and Half Price Books doesn’t reeeeally fall into that category. There are 120 locations (way more than I thought) but I have only ever been to two spots in San Antonio, Texas, and I have loved both. If they sold new books at new prices, I wouldn’t review them. But they sell everything under the literary sun and then some, and all at discounted (sometimes deeply discounted) prices. This place is a treasure trove and you absolutely must do yourself a favor and find one near you.
This specific location is located near a couple of colleges in San Antonio, sitting on a busy boulevard lined with restaurants, museums, motor inns, and apartment complexes, where many of the buildings are a little older, and some are re-purposed homes converted to storefronts. That’s what this location feels like. There are rooms and halls full of books, vast sections of mystery/crime titles, general fiction, mass markets, every kind of nonfiction you can imagine, records, DVDs, rarities and antiques, signed editions, graphic novels, stickers, trinkets, mugs, toys, and endless, endless books.
Imagine walking into a Barnes & Noble and everything was 50% to 75% off. Everything. That’s what this feels like. It’s so hard to leave without a book, and I didn’t this time either. I grabbed an anthology of modern horror stories written in the Lovecraftian style, and in the past I’ve purchased everything from Bukowski collections and Ray Bradbury novels to historical examinations of the Invasion of Leningrad and the Black Plague. They have it all: cookbooks, travel guides, SAT prep, gardening, horror, music, the occult, poetry, theater, westerns, biographies, on and on.
So, yes, this is one of many shops under the Half Price Books umbrella, but it’s hands down the best non-indie bookshop out there, so check them out.
Atmosphere — Sometimes bordering on chaotic, but other times chill and quiet, but either way this shop has mountains of discounted books to sift through, so get cracking.
Quality — Sometimes the books have a little wear on them, especially the mass markets, but they’re never that bad, and most are in excellent to basically new shape.
Quantity — The shops I’ve been in are quite large and have plenty of rooms and ailes to sort through.
Diversity — I don’t expect you’ll have any trouble finding a genre or category of nonfiction. They cover all the main bases.
Affordability — Excellent, as they’re all discounted titles.
Amenities — You’ll find some couches and chairs here and there, depending on the location, and they buy books as well as sell, so see what you can get for your old copies!
Location — All over the damn place.
Customer Service — Every clerk I’ve encountered has always been friendly and quick to help.
Overall — If you live within driving distance of one of these, you have no excuse for not checking here first before going to a Barnes & Noble or buying online. The deals are too good to pass up. Discounted books and so damn many of them. How can you go wrong?