Half Price Books

  www.halfpricebooks.com
  www.halfpricebooks.com
Work in HR? Unlock Free Profile

Half Price Books Reviews

Updated September 30, 2014
Updated September 30, 2014
83 Reviews
3.6
83 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
Half Price Books President and CEO Sharon Anderson Wright
Sharon Anderson Wright
60 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • the employee discount makes it easy to build an enviable collection (in 12 reviews)

  • ridiculously inexpensive health insurance, great employee discount, quarterly profit sharing (in 10 reviews)


Cons
  • As always in retail the pay is low but it''s made up for in benefits (in 7 reviews)

  • The pay is low but above minimum wage (in 6 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

Sort: Popular Rating Date
  1.  

    Best. Job. Ever.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Half Price Books full-time

    Pros

    I really enjoy how laid back the entire company is, from the store all the way to the top. It isn't unusual for the CEO to randomly pop in and say hello. I've heard it be said that this is a "hippie company" and they really live up to that. Love everyone, be good to the customers, employees, and the environment are the values they live by and it shows.

    In addition to the laid back atmosphere, you really feel like you're making a difference. You're helping people learn and you're also learning in return. The feeling of reward is unparalleled in any job I have ever had and I know through talking to many other employees that the feeling is very widespread. It's very unusual to have a job that makes you happy to come to work, but this is definitely it.

    And of course, the benefits. The benefits are amazing. You have the option of a normal plan or a premium plan and both are extremely affordable and it covers too much to list. They also offer benefits for same-sex couples and families too. The pay is also amazing for any retail store, let alone one that sells half price merchandise.

    Cons

    There really isn't too much to list. Every store is different and everyone's experience will differ depending on the location and management. My experience has been quite good, as has most of the other HPB employees I know.

    If there is one "con" it's probably the fact that there isn't as much of an opportunity to climb up the ladder as there might be at other jobs. Because of the pros listed above there isn't as much turn-over as there is at other retail establishments. However, because the pay is quite good and the yearly pay increase is fair, not to mention bonuses, it's definitely possible to live comfortably as a bookseller.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Keep up the good work. I would consider a pay increase (albiet smaller than for a shift leader) for ASIM's and M.O.D.'s since they're fulfilling those duties as well as being a bookseller, but that's really more a suggestion and not a complaint.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2.  

    A wonderful job for young parents in need of health care.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Bookseller  in  Saint Paul, MN
    Former Employee - Bookseller in Saint Paul, MN

    I worked at Half Price Books full-time for more than 10 years

    Pros

    Fellow employees are great and the job is fun. PTO and health benefits are beyond generous. If you like to collect books, records, movies, etc. the employee discount makes it easy to build an enviable collection. Almost all management positions are filled in house and promotion is common.

    Cons

    It is retail so you need to develop a thick skin for dealing with customers. In some districts there is a lot of micromanaging.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3. 1 person found this helpful  

    Steadily Going Downhill

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Half Price Books full-time

    Pros

    The benefits package was stellar, and its still pretty great. Paid vacations and healthcare are the biggest pro of this job.

    Cons

    They keep taking away our benefits. The profit-based bonuses are gone... the insurance isn't as good as it used to be... and while they raised the store minimum wage, they slashed our hours making it not a raise at all. The hours are HORRIBLE and completely random. The dress code keeps getting stricter and stricter to the point of making HPB just another bland corporate chain with no soul.
    They are becoming less and less environmentally friendly by investing more in brand new books and crappy gift items that hardly ever sell.
    They're losing what made them great.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stop alienating your workers. Give people consistent, fair schedules.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  4. We want your feedback – Are these company reviews helpful to you?  Yes | No
  5. 1 person found this helpful  

    Growth is good for customers, bad for employees

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Book Seller I  in  Kansas City, MO
    Former Employee - Book Seller I in Kansas City, MO

    I worked at Half Price Books full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    The people I worked with were great and I made some lifelong friends. Perfect environment if you love books, music and movies. Excellent benefits and PTO for retail job.

    Cons

    In the last year everyone in our store received a raise to a whopping $10.00/hour. At the same time our free hour lunch was taken away, reducing our work week from 40 to 35 hours. Not much benefit to us, we are still at poverty level wage. We used to receive quarterly bonuses, and counted on them to live a bit more comfortably. We did not receive any bonus for the last 2 quarters. As of last month we were told not to expect any bonuses in the future. Ridiculous new dress code policies (no holes in jeans, all of our jeans get holes from working there). Also, any employee wanting to get a new tattoo must have it pre-approved. Very invasive and childish. In general, there is a serious lack of positive feedback or acknowledgment at store and district level. Increasingly punative and petty. Not worth the low pay anymore.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Reward and acknowledge hard work and good performance. More communication and clarity regarding new policies and procedures. Pay your workers a living wage unless you want to employ college kids and the independently wealthy.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  6. 1 person found this helpful  

    A once great company is going bad.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Bookseller  in  College Station, TX
    Former Employee - Bookseller in College Station, TX

    I worked at Half Price Books full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    If you want good health benefits and a chummy work environment, Half Price Books is the place. It is hippy/hipster paradise where you get hands-on with old texts and rare/weird movies and memorabilia. If you find a location with good co-workers, you'll have a good time.

    Cons

    The company does not operate by its own rules. It promotes environmental awareness, but I worked at a location that literally threw thousands of brand new books away over the course of 3 days while moving store locations. There wasn't enough room to put the books in the new store, so instead of donating or recycling them, we threw them all in the garbage.

    The kicker?

    When students from the local university began pulling the books out of the dumpster (which only had books in it - we had gotten an extra dumpster just for all the books), our managers called the police on them. Then it started raining later that night. Thousands of brand new books were destroyed.

    Since the manager of that location now has a better position at a bigger location, I can only assume that this type of behavior is encouraged or rewarded by the company as a whole.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Hire kind and caring managers, not penny pinchers. Remember what made your company special in the first place. You will never win competing against big chains, so stop trying to make all your stores look like theirs. Be a little grimy, a little dirty, a little cavey, and thereby different and interesting.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  7. 1 person found this helpful  

    Best retail job imaginable, but still retail.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Assistant Manager
    Current Employee - Assistant Manager

    I have been working at Half Price Books full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    The employee discount and option to borrow merchandise are great. Very generous time off, and affordable medical, dental and vision insurance. The company policies are designed around a clear concern for employees, and the work environment is laid back and supportive. The job itself is simple, but varied enough to avoid tedium. You get occasional opportunities for creativity, and working closely with books, movies, and music is a huge draw.

    Cons

    Management teams vary based on the store. The laid-back environment leads to employees who've been there long enough to be complacent and jaded (including managers), which is aggravating if you're trying to follow policies and find books good homes. Because the company is good/easy to work for, and it's rare to get fired, openings for advancement are fairly rare. Dealing with literally hundreds of books every day (sometimes thousands) can make you jaded, and requires that huge numbers are recycled. The workload is constant, and can kill your motivation. Considering the amount of work required, the pay is too low to keep good employees very long (including management).

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    With the changing business landscape for books, a change in business model is in order. The idea of buying everything that people bring in is no longer sustainable.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8.  

    It wasn't the best of times or the worst of times

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Bookseller
    Former Employee - Bookseller

    I worked at Half Price Books as a contractor for less than a year

    Pros

    - Decent Pay
    - Low stress environment
    - Great Coworkers
    - Decent management
    - Good benefits to temp

    Cons

    -Awful assistant managers
    -Management a little TOO strict
    - Tedious Jobs/Busy work
    - Favoritism (but that's at any job really...)

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    MGMT was a little TOO unnecessarily strict. I was written up for being one minute late and during that "one minute" I was talking to the store manager about my schedule.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9. 5 people found this helpful  

    It Seemed Like a Good Idea At the Time

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Bookseller  in  Fort Worth, TX
    Current Employee - Bookseller in Fort Worth, TX

    I have been working at Half Price Books full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    The benefits package that came with full-time employment was fantastic when I started working here over 5 years ago. One hour lunch, paid on the clock. Vacation time adds up very quickly and there's rarely an instance a time-off request gets refused as long as reasonable notice is given ahead of time. The stores still function on most holidays, but everyone is given a paid holiday added to their schedule every month, with exception of Christmas and Thanksgiving. The insurance is affordable and covers just about everything. Employees are also able to take out advance payday loans through their store, up to $1000. To top it off, there is a company-wide quarterly profit share. You never know what people are going to bring in to sell and there's no shortage of interesting materials to sort through. The majority of the employees are fun and intelligent people who make retail into a fun experience. For every customer who gives you a hard time, there's an employee who will make you laugh and smile.

    Sounds, pretty good huh?

    Cons

    The benefits package that came with full-time employment was fantastic. "Was", being the key word.

    One hour paid lunch, no more. Instead they decided to beat the national minimum wage increase and just re-calculate your pay scale so that 35 hours a week will add up to what you were being paid for 40 hours.

    Vacation time still adds up but requests are sometimes overlooked and managers don't always make sure to give you your paid monthly holiday. Insurance is not what it used to be as the cost is increasing while the benefits are decreasing. And the profit share? Well, it appears to be a thing of the past as we haven't received one in the past 2 quarters. There's no way to be sure though because corporate doesn't feel it necessary to communicate with anyone. I guess we'll just figure it out on our own.

    "Stores are closing, but the company is okay." Kinda like, "There's a hole in our boat, but that's okay because we have buckets." It's not good. It's not okay.

    Things are changing in the world of Half Price Books. The company is taking on internet business, and it appears they may have bitten off much more than they can chew. The store I work in is not staffed very well. According to the grapevine, that's another corporate decision. Five years ago, we had almost twice the amount of people working in our store. With the new internet business we are being forced to add more procedures to our daily routines and we are not going to receive anymore staff to help with the increased work load. This is resulting in less employees picking up more customer service on the sales floor and telephone, and getting less books on the shelves to sell which in turn results in less income for the store.

    Imagine this: 4 people open a store; 1 on register, 1 buying books, 1 answering phones as well as customer service requests and pricing/shelving books while trying to assist the register or buy counter becuase the other (1) is stuck pulling orders for the internet sales. 4 phone lines ringing, 3 college students wanting a dozen textbooks they don't even know the right name of, and by the way, there are 5 people waiting on offers for their stuff. How fast can you dig through 4 tubs of paperbacks while answering a phone and simultaneously expressing your desire to help the guy who can clearly see you're on the phone and yet insists that you help him with his list of books. There are times when the staff just wants to throw our hands up. We need more people to do this job properly.

    No one can seem to get on the same page as to current buying, selling, pricing, and stocking policies. One person comes in and says this, another person calls and says that, and then the email from someone else, says something else. Communication is a huge failure for this company.

    Digging through some peoples things can be miserable. People don't use discretion when they bring us things to purchase. We have to dig through dead bugs, various animal hair, urine, feces, mold and lots of dust on occasion.

    Many people don't understand the math behind the buy policy and feel it's unreasonable and borders on being unethical. Some customers become very offended and irrate and we don't get paid enough to deal with that.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    First of all, quit training our customers to think we owe them a special discount. Everything is already half-price or less. If they don't like our prices, let them go to another store and pay more. They'll be back when they get the sticker shock at Barnes and Noble. Every time we turn around there's another special discount or sale. EVERYTHING IS ALREADY ALWAYS DISCOUNTED AND ON SALE! That's what we should say when customers ask us what our specials are or if any sales are coming up. We have a sale EVERY DAY. THAT tells them that EVERY DAY is an opportunity to save a lot of money shopping at Half Price Books. They don't need a SALE. Can I get a discount on my discount? Seriously? Marketing needs to push that concept instead of telling the customers that they are entitled to even heavier discounts. It's costing us. I see the numbers during sales climb like crazy, and I understand that when we advertise a sales event it increases our numbers at the register, no doubt. But imagine if we advertised EVERY DAY as being a sales event at Half Price Books? It's true, and it's one of the reasons I love this store. Every single day is an opportunity to find something really cool for a really good price.

    Who is in charge of buying distro? Apparently they don't have to follow the same guidelines that we at the buy counter in the actual stores do. They pay well over our highest percentage mark, and usually for items we already have a stack of or just plain junk that no one wants. I shouldn't have 28 copies of the same book from distro, sell none for 6 months, and then receive more copies. We are getting more and more distribution, and that means more and more of the same stuff. Our customers know of us as a place where they can find rare and hard to find stuff. That appears to be changing as we become more and more like "The Jones'". Put a leash on distro buyers. Our shelves do not magically grow to accommodate every worthy book purchased at the buy counter. We run out of space, so we end up trashing and donating variety in order to make room for more of the same costly cookie-cutter distro goods. Perhaps it would be beneficial for those individuals who do make those purchases to have some actual in-store buy counter time. Matter of fact, I'm pretty sure it would be nothing short of insightful for all of the corporate employees to have a regular routine day on the sales floor. It's easy to pass down policies and protocols in theory when you're not the one who has to execute them. That would help retain some unity in decision making instead of detachment and unrealistic goals on corporates behalf.

    It's fair to say that if the companies money isn't my money anymore (in regards to PBB), I may as well pay higher at the buy counter. I had always been adamant about considering cost of goods and encouraging wise buying but it's not worth dealing with angry , dissatisfied customers. You get what you pay for, and you''ll get your moneys worth out of me and not a penny more. I am but one person, and I can only do so much. There are no book emergencies, but try explaining that to a line of customers who've been waiting for 20 minutes just to ask for help because every staff member is tied up helping someone else find a book, buy some books, or backing up the register.

    We keep opening new stores. We have been closing stores. We have been remodeling stores. We have been updating stores. We've got one teaspoon of mayo. How many sandwiches can we make? Point being, we appear to be spreading ourselves far too thin. Quit opening stores and focus on fixing the ones that are falling behind. I want to take over the world too, but slow down. We're international now via the world wide web and the internet business is looking quite promising, regardless of the dent it puts in sales floor staff. One thing at a time.

    There's talk as to what the future holds for us here. Mergers. Sellouts. External hiring. We're wondering what new disappointment lies around the bend. We are concerned that the company we worked for no longer exists. Not the one Ken and Pat envisioned anyway.

    We send pallets of boxes full of books to the warehouse. Sort through them. Look at SIPS. You can see how much it sells for regularly, what stores it sells best in, and if it even sells at all. Sort the books that sell well. Send them back to stores that have the best chance of reselling them, just like distro, but it's product that has been purchased at a lower cost, and for that matter, has already been purchase by the company.

    Why aren't we in the recycling business too? We could be profiting off of our garbage but we're giving it to someone else. That doesn't make sense.

    Find a way to get Marketing to change our Half Price Books Marketplace. Customers come in the store and tell us WE DO have certain books because they saw it on our website. The website is misleading to a lot of people. The confusion it creates becomes frustration on the customers behalf and that transfers onto the store employees as hostile. We shouldn't have to bare the weight of that complaint. Find a way to make it more obvious to people who peruse the website that the inventory is NOT their local stores inventory. I can see the details and it makes sense after really looking at it, but that's because I'm familiar.

    You're detached from your roots. You should really think about trying to find them again.

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  10.  

    For the most part, enjoyable.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Shift Leader
    Current Employee - Shift Leader

    I have been working at Half Price Books full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    It is a very relaxed company. The insurance is wonderful and people seem to really care.

    Cons

    Unfortunately, for the amount of time and work I put into the company, there is not a very good salary coming out. It is a resale shop that simply can not pay it's employees very well.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stop trying to give the customers everything. It leads to resentful employees.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11.  

    Good work environment but lacking in organization

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Bookseller  in  Des Moines, IA
    Former Employee - Bookseller in Des Moines, IA

    I worked at Half Price Books full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    HPB treats their employees well with decent pay and benefits.

    Cons

    Lack of direction and consistency in management, training.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    More consistency in training.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

Worked for Half Price Books? Contribute to the Community!

Your response will be removed from the review – this cannot be undone.