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Working at Half Price Books — Reviews by Employees

Learn what employees have to say about Half Price Books pay, work/life balance, care potential, job security, and much more by reading our anonymous employee reviews.

Reviews of Jobs at Half Price Books

4.3Rating Details
Category
Pay4
Respect4
Benefits5
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance5
Career Growth4
Location4
Co-Workers4
Work Environment4

From Dallas TX — 08/17/2010

The HPB company ideal is a genius seedling, but sadly gets trampled by ineffective upper management. Frequent dangerous working conditions at the buying counter (injury from lifting, broken glass/nails in boxes etc) and the building itself (black mold in ceiling does not get repaired, leads to numerous recurrent illnesses).

The job itself is fun, 50% of my co-workers are degreed professional adults; the other 50% are rude, socially inadequate or mildly retarded, and in some cases just plain glaringly lazy and incompetent. We just wish that the corporate heads knew what we dealt with on a daily basis, but fear of reprisals (oh, it happens) keeps us quiet.

The only way to advance is to move to another location. I'd recommend it for highly self-motivated literate individuals who have no problems doing their own work and at least half the work of three or four fellow employees who would rather bitch about the customers and eat snacks in the break room than do an honest day's labor.

Personally, I love my job, but I don't always love the people I work with. A great career for a creative mind who knows how to hold their tongue until behind a closed door. Muttered sarcasm ability is a bonus.
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3.1Rating Details
Category
Pay4
Respect3
Benefits5
Job Security2
Work/Life Balance4
Career Growth3
Location5
Co-Workers2
Work Environment3

From Dallas, Texas — 08/05/2010

It is a company that seems to literally thrive on promotions within cliques. If you are not part of the store clique, you will not go anywhere. The company judges its employees and managers mainly off of the opinions of fellow workers. If you do not belong to the clique, then you will be given poor ratings from the clique, and you will not succeed. If a manager is to succeed, then that manager is to either part of the clique, or lead it themselves. If not, the clique will gang up at review time and make false accusations until that manager is gone. same with the "outsider" employee. hiring is basically done through friendship or relationships. the only reason "outsiders" are ever hired is because the clique doesn't have anyone available to hire at the time. when they become available, the corresponding number of "outsider" employees are squeezed-out one way or another.

I know. I've seen it happen at the store I recently worked in for years. there was a friend of the clique that wanted to work there, so, I was given a group clique testimony of potentiality for sexual harassment based on their stereotyped fears. and even though i was told I had done nothing wrong, in action or with words, i was told that the unnamed employee's fears of sexual harassment were of the utmost concern to the company. i was ordered to leave the store, by way of the district management, in to protect these unsubstantiated fears.

i had over two months of vacation pay and a month and a half of sick days that i lost because of this clique.
I had never been written-up, had a clean record, a company commendation and was vocally considered a model employee by the district. yet, all it took was one false accusation, and i was thrown under the bus.

Thanks a lot, Boots, Ken Wright, Tim Jernigan, et al! I LOST EVERYTHING... and you willfully did NOTHING to stop it!
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3.9Rating Details
Category
Pay4
Respect3
Benefits5
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance5
Career Growth4
Location4
Co-Workers3
Work Environment3

From Austin — 03/25/2010

I've worked at several different locations with this company and my scoring would vary widely, depending on who my store manager and district manager are/were. I worked for one manager who kept the staffing to the barest minimum so it almost felt we were being worked to death but gave us amazing raises, was honest and supportive. This manager was a great leader - lead by example and worked very hard (including taking out the trash, unclogging toilets, vacuuming - all the dirty work) and expected us to work as hard in kind. The district manager was based 3 hours away - we rarely saw him/her and when he/she did come by, it was for a brisk walk-through and to take management to lunch. Another manager was a liar, lazy, a sexual harasser, and hired a psychotic spouse who bossed everyone around and openly expressed hate for certain employees. (This manager was eventually promoted to a district manager.) The current district manager has kept our salaries at the lowest in the company, despite the fact the cost of living here requires most of the staff to have to have room-mates or live with mom and dad, and to barely get by paycheck-to-paycheck. She's such a penny pincher she won't even let the stores stock a small supply of tampons for female staff emergencies! (Or customer emergencies...)

Great managers have been fired unjustly and based on lies. District managers can be inept, capricious, out-of-touch, and simply still at the job because they're friends with the CEO. Yes, the company was founded by leftover hippies, but most of those hippies have grown up and "become Republicans" by putting an end to most employee perks, capping raises, and threatening to do away with company-paid health insurance - all in the pursuit of higher profits.

The company tries to give the impression they're environmentally conscious, yet store signage is constantly changing and is printed with the most toxic, evil-smelling and store-clearing ink ON PLASTIC. The company also discriminates against handicapped and temporarily disabled, long-time employees, even though the job is incredibly physical and demanding (lifting in excess of 40 lbs., standing for hours on end on concrete floors, processing merchandise that harbors mold and insects, etc.). Most folks I work/have worked with suffer from back, foot, knee, and other joint ailments - all of which are completely work-related.

Pay raises for long time and well-experienced employees who don't have supervisory or managerial aspirations top out at around $12.50/hr. (and has been so for about 12 years) so unless one works overtime (which is rarely available), you can actually make less money over time. This can be especially galling as entry-level employees can be making just a few cents less than seasoned employees.

It's a fallacy that full-time employees all get free health insurance. Many managers get around this by hiring folks as "temps", axing them after a certain period of time, and hiring new schlubs, thus saving the company money on insurance coverage and making these same managers look good to the corporate folk. (Not all districts do this - many still respect their employees and treat them well.) Generally though, the longer one's worked at one location, the better one is able to balance work and life with a regular schedule - although all staff and management is required to work at least one weekend day each week. (Managers in some districts are known to get all weekends off, thanks to district managers who violate company policy in order to do so.) Most managers try to accomodate employee schedule requests for special circumstances.

The company's emphasis has become less and less on the used book trade, and more and more on packaged and remainder stock, even though the cost of goods is much, much higher. The folksy and welcoming atmosphere of the stores is changing to almost totally resemble mainstream, non-independent bookstores, right down to the color of the walls. No longer is local artistic ability valued by the addition of handmade posters and signs - just those Madison Avenue-ish, sterile and uninspired signage spewed out by the corporate marketing department.

What keeps me working for this company? Co-workers - most of whom are degree-holding, well-educated people with a wide range of interests, gifts and talents. Sometimes there can be too many wannabe musicians staffing a small store, all wanting to take their vacations at the same time (during SXSW, for example) or frequently not showing up because of too many late nights and beer, but over-all, you won't find a more diverse bunch of people in one place. Our customer base is long-time and loyal, with only a few schnooks in the bunch. I've learned a lot from every manager and district manager I've worked with and for, including how NOT to treat co-workers. The profit sharing is nice and always welcome, even though it's decreased somewhat over time. The company gets high marks for 401K contributions and Christmas bonuses as well as a recent increase in our anniversary gift certificates (we also get a gift certificate at Christmas). Every job at every company in every country has its good points and bad ones. The trick is having more good to say about one's employer, and depending on the location and management of each store in this company's chain, the good can (and should) outweigh the bad. Too bad the corporate folks always look at the numbers to the detriment of employee morale, not realizing if the workers are happy the customers will be, too.
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4.8Rating Details
Category
Pay4
Respect5
Benefits5
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance5
Career Growth5
Location5
Co-Workers5
Work Environment5

From San Antonio, TX — 11/10/2009

I love this company. I have worked in two locations in two different cities, and though one is vastly better (my current location) than the other in terms of my experiences, the other one made me apply here to begin with because I truly did adore the company.

As many have said, the pay isn't going to make you a millionaire. However, that being said, the benefits MORE than outweigh any loss of better pay in the retail world. Between the discount, free insurance for full-time employees, holidays and vacations, paid hour-long lunches, and profit sharing (which has been particularly lucrative lately) - what is not to love? I would equate it to a $12/hour job through all the benefits.

I love the people I work with. We're like a family in so many ways. I am not an outgoing person or a partier - I am quiet and shy, but I am myself, and people respect me for it. They like me because I like and care about them (what a novel idea!). I work hard and do my job well, I treat customers well, and I am generally praised and respected for it. As far as the company goes, there is a bit of nepotism, but I have yet to see the negative effects of it. All the employees work hard and help each other - nobody gets a free ride unless they plan on suffering the consequences. If someone obviously is not a good worker, they are fired. If you are, then promotions are not out of the question, yearly pay raises are guaranteed, and additional benefits come your way too. I love the management for the most part... nobody is perfect, but they do a great job.

With great people, great management, great customers, and deeply-discounted books galore, the environment is dang near divine. The smell is old books and coffee.... mmmm.

Half Price Books is doing better than ever in terms of company growth, and I'd recommend this job to anyone that loves books, movies, or music. Or just friendly people... good management... good benefits. There is something for everybody to love at this company. Of course, experiences will vary from store to store (one store in this city I would *never* want to work for), but the bad ones are the exceptions. The norm is awesomeness. Best job I have ever had and probably ever will have.
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5.0Rating Details
Category
Pay5
Respect5
Benefits5
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance5
Career Growth5
Location5
Co-Workers5
Work Environment5

From College Station, Tx — 11/01/2009

Granted, it's been a while since I worked there. I only left after I graduated college to follow other dreams, but I still often miss it. It was a great company to work for. The only job I ever had precollege graduation with insurance, vacation days etc. Benefits, yea! For the most part, everyone got along. The work day is well divided so you never spend eight hours doing the same thing. We did two hours on the register, two hours on the buy counter and the rest of your shift was for you section work! I loved it. I can remember working barefooted and having a book store cat. Where else do you get that? Great company and I highly recommend it!
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4.9Rating Details
Category
Pay4
Respect5
Benefits5
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance5
Career Growth5
Location5
Co-Workers5
Work Environment5

From san antonio, tx — 10/29/2009

I have never worked for a company that has made me as happy as working at half price books. Since the very first day, i felt at home, my co workers, all amazing and intellegent, my management staff inspirational. The pay is a little low, but after five months as bookseller, i have already been promoted to shift leader, and i have high hopes its only going to get better from here. i recommend working for this company to anyone who loves books, and wants to have a job they truely love.
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4.9Rating Details
Category
Pay4
Respect5
Benefits5
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance5
Career Growth5
Location5
Co-Workers5
Work Environment5

From San Antonio, Texas — 10/10/2009

There is so much room for growth in this company if you're willing to work for it. I received my first promotion after working there for only five months, & after another six I'm up for another (both including nice little pay raises). I didn't have to sleep with anyone, kiss anybody's ass, or anything else that some of the other reviews say. The managers, and employees alike are all so nice and we have so much fun! The benefits are AMAZING! FREE DENTAL,VISION, AND HEALTH?! The starting pay may not be much, but if you're willing to work hard there are so many opportunities with HPB.
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4.3Rating Details
Category
Pay3
Respect5
Benefits5
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance5
Career Growth3
Location4
Co-Workers4
Work Environment5

From Houston, TX — 06/16/2007

Half Price Books is an excellent company to work for if you are a student or just love books. The company is run by ex-hippies and so the company really does have a caring attitude toward its employees. They offer free medical insurance, quarterly profit-sharing checks for full time employees, Christmas bonuses, and 401k contributions.

Chances are good that you will work with open-minded people that are genuinely nice. I've never worked with a better group of people. Of course, that can vary from store to store, but of the people I've met, all seem friendly.

If you like to be alone for long stretches of time, this job could be for you. Most of your time is spent shelving books in an assigned section, and you only do about two hours max on the register or in the buy function. At time the work can be boring and monotonous, but on the upside you get to see a whole bunch of new and different books that you may not have come across otherwise.

As for moving up in the company, promotions can be slow or fast depending on their needs at the time. If you do your work with even a modicum of pride and diligence, you will stand out and be more likely for promotions. They also tend to promote based on seniority, so the longer you're there the better chance you have of being promoted, though not always the case.

The pay isn't great, but it's a lot better than other bookstores, especially when you consider the profit-sharing checks and 401k contributions. Unlike most "new" bookstores, Half Price has a stellar employee discount for their products.

Again, this is a great job for students or someone that wants a cool part time job. Making a career of it could be rather difficult considering the pay. Many older adults that work with me work at least two or more jobs.

Most of all, you can't beat the general attitude of the place, which is one the reasons it's so fun to work there.
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