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  • Report: #225459

Complaint Review: Half Price Books Records Magazines

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  • Submitted: Thu, December 14, 2006
  • Updated: Thu, December 29, 2011

  • Reported By:Austin Texas
Half Price Books Records Magazines
2929 South Lamar Boulevard Austin, Texas U.S.A.

Half Price Books Records Magazines Tried to give me 50 cents for two boxes of autographed, first edition books Austin Texas

*UPDATE Employee: Different Stores

*Consumer Suggestion: Other Options For Selling

*Author of original report: YOU CAN'T GET A GOOD PRICE AT THE HALF-PRICE BOOKS IN SAN MARCOS, TEXAS ANYMORE

*Author of original report: They DO know what they are doing -- RIPPING ME OFF...but NO more!

*Consumer Comment: You CAN get good money for your books at HPB

*Consumer Comment: The South Lamar Half-Price Books

*UPDATE Employee: argh...

*Author of original report: I WIsh I Could Believe You...

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: they didn't rip you off

*UPDATE Employee: HPB Buying Policy

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After a close relative passed away, we were settling the estate and since the relative used to be a mental health professional, there were many books in that field from Freud, Jung, Adler, you name it, that were CLASSICS in the field and still remain benchmarks to this day.

My relative had met a number of distinguished practitioners at various conventions and conferences and had quite a few autographed books that they had given to my relative. Fritz Perls who was the founder of transcational analysis --or so HE claimed, gave my relative quite a few and my relative had a very good collection. The only problem was we could not pay to have them stored so we thought that since Austin was a town of scholars and students, that if we sold them to Half Price Books, we could get some of what they were worth and someone else more interested in this topic could benefit from the books being available for purchase.

We loaded up the best titles in two large boxes and went to the South Lamar location.

Keep in mind that this was a few years ago but I am told that they are still doing the same thing by people who have sold books to them ONCE --because they expected a fair price and got ( CENSORED) instead!

I was shopping elsewhere in the store and happened to overhear the persons in charge of the buy-back program expressing their ignorance about who these practitioners and scholars were when they were looking at my relative's books. They were not very complimentary -- to say the least --and they sure didn't know that we were listening to them.

They were snickering when they announced that their offer was ready and when we showed up, they SNEERINGLY offered us 50 cents for BOTH BOXES OF BOOKS and some were autographed by the original authors!

That's when I told them," No but ( Censored) No!" and when I went to pick my books up from their counter, the bottom of the box fell out and the books went everywhere on the floor.( I suspect they cut the bottoms out of the boxes ...)

These were rather large and heavy books and it took us quite a while to stack them and get most of them out of the store without a box. They had plenty of sturdy large boxes but they did NOT offer to help us or give us one of the boxes.

I am not sure if I got all the books that fell or not and that is where they ripped me off! They did not help me, and my back was hurting with the weight of all the books. I wasn't paid anything for the ones I dropped, not even 50 cents and I had no choice to leave them there because we were both loaded down with the books from both of the boxes.

I took the books and put them in several afterhours library depositories around town rather than let the people at Half Price Books have them! I have NEVER gone back to that store again!

It is OK to buy from the other Half Price Books but I will NEVER let myself get (CENSORED) by them AGAIN! I have seen people come in during the 2001 High Tech Recession and were forced to sell their books for practically nothing then.

I used to think that particuliar Half Price Books rips off almost EVERYBODY who was forced to sell them their books, magazines, music and videos! After reading the other entries on THE RIP OFF REPORT about them, I see that it is not confined to just the one Austin store!

I am just thankful that we did not let them RIP US OFF quite as badly as they had intended originally!

Obviously NOT a Half-Price Books Fan!
Austin, Texas
U.S.A.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 12/14/2006 06:41 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Half-Price-Books-Records-Magazines/Austin-Texas-78704/Half-Price-Books-Records-Magazines-Tried-to-give-me-50-cents-for-two-boxes-of-autographe-225459. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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REBUTTALS & REPLIES:
1Author 9Consumer 0Employee/Owner
Updates & Rebuttals

#1 UPDATE Employee

Different Stores

AUTHOR: HPBemployee - (United States of America)

Just so you know, most libraries take anything that doesn't sell at their library sales to Half Price Books.  Your books may have ended up there after all.

I have many times offered folks $1 for many boxes of books that would all be recycled because the demand for the titles and subjects was nil, and because the world in constantly changing and so is the information in books!  Yes, Jung and Freud are standards, perhaps the person on the counter that day was an idiot, obviously they have no manners.  If it had been me, I WOULD have helped box up your books..but probably not if you flew off the handle, dropped an F bomb at a family store where children are present, and started slamming your books in a box angrily. No one is going to help you if you behave like a crazy, they're going to watch you leave and hope that no children learned a new word that day. 

As someone else stated: Not all signed books are collectible.  We (those of us working at HPB doing our jobs correctly and respectfully) look up collectible books on abebooks.com to see how collectible they are, and decide from there what we think we'll sell them for in the store and what we can pay for them based on that assessment.  One store gave an older lady $3,000 for a signed first edition Einstein book. 

As for your text books...well, they decrease in value each semester until the average textbook sells for one sad penny on amazon.com.  We look up textbooks to see what they are currently selling for used, and if it's less than 5 dollars, most books get donated or recycled.  Textbooks are a HUGE evil business where they put out a new edition almost every semester, professors get paid to use new ones, and students get shafted. So their value drops drastically within two years.  Although, as with any book...there are always exceptions...

HPB as a company pulps (recycles) about 100,000 books a week. (Anyone saying "you should have just thrown them in the dump is stupid, recycle your books people!) We donated thousands: hospitals, daycares, schools, charities, retirement homes, women's shelters, etc.   There just isn't always demand for certain books, but especially there's just not enough room. We try to move books fast in order for new ones to get on the shelf.  Those that don't sell, go to clearance (we keep that in mind when we buy things) and after clearance it's to be pulped or donated, depending on what it is.   

I can't even begin to tell you how many copies of The Da Vinci Code I've donated....

Maybe we do things differently in The Midwest stores.  We rarely have complaints.  Sorry you had such a bad experience, but remember- be an example of good behavior.  

 
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#2 Consumer Suggestion

Other Options For Selling

AUTHOR: Karl - (U.S.A.)

Half Price Books is mainly interested in very recent best sellers and even so pays very little for books. They end up donating many of them. It is not a wise place to sell professional books and unique signed ones such as yours. If your were in good condition you should have contacted several of the New York auction firms or searched for places that would be interested in mental health books. Dropping them off at libraries simply means that they will either get tossed out or will be sold for 50 cents by Friends of the Library. You might as well have put them in a dumpster.



I've bought thousands or dollars worth of books at Half Price Books but learned years ago that packing books up, taking them to Dallas, and selling them to HPB is hardly worth the effort. If you do decide to sell books to them take small quantities to a number of locations. You will do much better that way.



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#3 Author of original report

YOU CAN'T GET A GOOD PRICE AT THE HALF-PRICE BOOKS IN SAN MARCOS, TEXAS ANYMORE

AUTHOR: Joe - (U.S.A.)

WE TOO MADE THE TREK FROM AUSTIN TO SAN MARCOS AND ON OUR FIRST TWO TRIPS GOT THE MONEY WE SHOULD HAVE HAD.

WE MADE THE THIRD TRIP AND THEY HAD SOME PUNK FROM AUSTIN WHO TOLD US WE SHOULD NOT BRING THE JUNK IN HIS STORE --- THESE ARE THE LAST OF MY LAW BOOKS WHICH WERE BOUGHT NEW AND IN MINT CONDITION AND WILL BE USED FOR AT LEAST THREE SEMESTERS MORE.... THESE ARE EXPENSIVE BOOKS.

AND HE OFFERED US $8.25 FOR THEM.

WHICH WOULD NOT EVEN COVER THE PRICE OF THE GAS IT TOOK TO TAKE THE B OOKS THERE... BUT IT WAS A LESSON THAT I WILL NEVER GO THERE AGAIN. EVER./

THANK YOU VERY MUCH, DUDE BUT IF I WANTED TO GET SCREWED ( I WOULD HAVE TAKEN $15 FOR THE THREE BOXES FULL BUT WITH THIS FOOL, THERE WERE NO NEGOTATIONS POSSIBLE.) I WOULD HAVE STAYED IN AUSTIN, TEXAS

IF YOU KNOW OF A HALF PRICE BOOKS WHO WILL GIVE A DECENT PRICE IN THE AUSTIN,TEXAS AREA, PLEASE ADVISE.

AUSTIN JUST SEEMS TO HAVE TOO MUCH OF ANYTHING AND TOO MANY PEOPLE TO EXPLOIT YOU AND EXPECT YOU TO PAY THEM FOR THE GREAT PRIVILEGE OF JUST BEING IN THEIR PRESENCE IN WONDERFUL AUSTIN,TEXAS.

SADLY, SAN MARCOS IS BECOMING YUPPIE HELL AS WELL..
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#4 Author of original report

They DO know what they are doing -- RIPPING ME OFF...but NO more!

AUTHOR: Joe - (U.S.A.)

They KNEW what they were doing.

It looked like to me they were scamming their Corporate office by having their friends bring in books for which they received full pay and ripping off people like me and hoping to sell what I brought in but NOT pay me in the hopes of trying to make up the difference.

THAT'S JUST HOW IT APPEARED TO ME!

They probably don't get very much in pay.They probably ARE scamming

I solved the problem that I had with them.

I DON'T SHOP THERE ANYMORE.
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#5 Consumer Comment

You CAN get good money for your books at HPB

AUTHOR: Jinnytx - (U.S.A.)

First of all, let me say that there is a huge difference between the North Dallas HPB and the Austin South Lamar location. North Dallas HPB is HUGE. It's also the most popular, just down the street from the original location. South Lamar, by comparison, even by Austin standards, is tiny. The South Lamar location is the smallest HPB I've ever seen, and I've seen many, nationwide. It is also crowded and filled to the brim with books and overstock.
Another thing that the Half Price employee above didn't state was about who published your books. I am an online used book dealer and selling books has been an education. Many books that you think should be worth something usually aren't. Things that you have been told would be collectible when you bought them probably won't be (beanie babies, cabbage patch ?). If the books were nice looking editions published by Readers Digest they would actually cost Half Price Books money just to take them. If they were part of a collection of psychiatric authors like a series, they may not be worth much either unless they were bound in leather with gilt edges. Next time you are at Half Price, they have a section for those types of things - check it out. Normally they are in excellent condition and have a nice bindings. Some books that are parts of collections only 'look' nice, but don't have the actual quality bindings.
Your books were also about very popular persons and many, many books have been written about them. If they were first edition BY Freud, Jung, Adler, then you should have been at Christie's. I am assuming they are not. The market is saturated. If they had been about or by lesser known individuals you may have gotten more money for them, but probably would have needed to list them on an internet site such as ABE or Amazon and even then, it may have taken a couple of years for them to sell to the right collector. You say that some of them were rare. Unfortunately, Half Price doesn't have the time or resources to take those books to their fullest potential and sell them in some other venue. A person looking for titles such as those probably wouldn't be hunting them down at Half Price. There is one exception in Austin and I'm not sure exactly where it is, but there is a location that put a separate collectible 'store' in the back. That store may have given you more money.
Here is one trick that you can do at Half Price. When you drop off your books at the buy counter, tell them you would like back any books that they are not going to sell. They will give them back to you and you can take them to another location and do the same thing. Once you have done this two or three times, you can be assured that what you have left is worth nothing.
Half Price DOES give out good money for books and in many cases is overly generous to the point where they're probably losing money. If they give you $1 for two boxes of books, that's probably more than it's going to cost them to recycle them. They're being nice.
I have made upwards of $70 dollars on buy backs that were just two plastic grocery bags and less than $5 on six boxes. It depends on what you take in. They are not out to get you, no matter how weird they look : )

The truly unfortunate part of this story is that you took them to a public library. The library rarely, very rarely, puts donated books on the shelf. Almost never. All donated books are collected over the year and then sold at a library sale (unless they have a year long 'store'), the proceeds of which are used to purchase books the librarian chooses depending on what that library needs. An exception to this would have been a college library. If you had donated the collection to UT they would have put them in the library and would have probably invited you to be on the Chancellor's Council. My father in law donated his collection of cd's to UT several years ago and that is exactly what happened.

I hope the people reading this realize that Half Price knows what it's doing. It started in a dusty book shop in a crappy shopping center in the 70's and is now nationwide. They didn't get there by selling your creased first Bantam paperback edition of Carrie for $40. They got there by selling it for 50 cents. Because that's what it's worth. Sorry if they only gave you a nickel for it. They do have to pay their overhead, you know. It's also a lot better than most used books stores that only give you credit.
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#6 Consumer Comment

The South Lamar Half-Price Books

AUTHOR: Juan - (U.S.A.)

We, like the original author/complainent, moved to Austin from Dallas. We could always count on the "Mother Ship" store on 75 Central Expwy/Northwest Hwy. whenever we were in a financial bind or just down-sizing our CD library or book selections. One time we took over 150 CDs and were offered $100 which we took. On another occasion, we shlepped over with two boxes full of Primary education methods books where we again were offered a high price (I believe it was more than $60). So, logically, when we took up roots and moved three hours South to the Capital City, we found that the South Lamar Half-Price books was within a 10 minute drive of our abode.

The first time my partner, who was unemployed at the time, piled up a box of autobiographical books by Hollywood screen legends. He really hated parting with them but he thought food and gas were more important. The offer came back at only $14. He was shocked and visibly upset. He told them they were worth more money than that. We packed up the books and headed home. On an earlier Sunday drive to San Marcos (about 20 min. South), I had remembered seeing a Half-Price books store there. I asked my partner if he was willing to try another HPB store and he said "Sure, why not". So we drove down to the store with the same box of books and the offer
there was over $100!!

We did not reveal to the folks in San Marcos what the South Lamar store had offered. We gladly handed his books over to them and they gave him his money. I do not know what to think about the S. Lamar employee whose offer was so much less than in San Marcos. I can see now that not all HPB stores are alike. We will no longer patronize our local store but instead will make the 20-minute trip South.

To the person with the original post--if you have the means and time...go to the San Marcos store--Thanks, HPB!! Not all your stores are created equal.

Dan
Austin, TX
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#7 UPDATE Employee

argh...

AUTHOR: B - (U.S.A.)

you can believe me or not, it doesn't make what I said any more or less true. I think I might, however, know more about the company, having worked there for 4 years, than you do...no matter how loyal you are to the company.

I have never been to the store in question. I live in Wisconsin, and worked there. Admittedly, my experience only has prudence here, not in Texas.

However...I met many employees from other states while working there. The employees have many ways of communicating with one another from store-to-store and even state-to-state. Most everyone is very nice, however; I am not saying that there are not some down right rotten apples in the barrel.

HPB employees may get a little uppity from time to time. Not excusing anyone for rudeness, but when you work a degrading job where you get shouted at hourly and paid low wages dosn't exactly put most people in the most cheerful mood possible. However, they DO make more than $5.15 an hour. Also, as an HPB employee, you get a 6th sense about who is going to throw a hissy and who isn't. Someone who offers $.50 for two boxes of books KNOWS that you are going to throw a hissy. We know that it is upsetting to get a low offer, we've all been there. I was a customer of Half Price Books for 10 years before I worked there, and had sold materials many times.

Let me explain the buy process to you...You open up a box of books. You look through the books, assessing them for broken bindings, torn pages, missing pages, mildew (sometimes if you get the smell) bugs, etc. You then read the titles of each book, and flip them open to the first couple of pages...looking for writing of any kind. Signatures can possibly have more value, depending on 1. who the signature is and 2. how popular that person is (was) For example...if you had a signed Beatles LP, first printing,mint condition with all 4 Beatles signatures on it...well, that would be worth a heck of a lot of money. However if you had Sinead O'Connor's signature on a single cassette tape...not worth so much. Yes, she's a household name and some people liked her for that one song she sang, but no one is going to buy that for collectable value.

Yes, all those Doctors wrote fascinating books and their books could still be used by students today. However, when you go to college you are REQUIRED to buy the newest versions of any textbooks that the professor chooses. Even if you are studying Freud, then, you can't just go out and buy any book on Freud, you have to get the one you are going to use in class. THerefore, most people aren't going to buy them except for their collectable value.

Also, are the books just autographed, or inscribed? (an inscription is with a personalized note, for example; To George, I can't thank you enough for all your invaluable help writing this book. You're the best, sincerely, Dr. Freud. It sounds like your relative knew the authors of these books well, so they were probably inscribed. Well, unfortunately, this devalues it. Because, well, I can't very well give the book to someone named Fred, can I?

Like I said in my original post, HPB did not try and rip you off. They are just trying to give you a portion of what they think they can sell it for. If they think they are going to have to be throwing these books into the recycling bin in a month (a service they pay by the pound for, by the way, to have the old books turned back into paper products) they just aren't going to give you much money for them.

You said that you went to the other store and they offered you more for the books. I can't honestly say I am surprised. Each store, even within the same city, has a different market. Different clientele go to different stores seeking different books. We have 3 stores in Milwaukee (about 10 miles apart) and they all sell vastly different books at different prices. This also depends on supply and demand. World War Two books, for example, sold really well at my store, and we got just enough of them in to sell, we never had any overstock in that subject.

However, anything on Vietnam would only sell at the south side of town's store, because they had more people selling and seeking books on that subject there. The north side of town did killer business in the civil war, because it is more of a primarily african-american neighborhood. That doesnt mean that HPB employees at my store hated Vietnam war or Civil War Books, we just couldn't sell them to save our souls.

Your offer also depends on how full the shelves are at the location, and specifically in that section. all your books would have gone in the Psychiatry section. Do they have enough room? How much overstock do they already have for that section? How many books would they have to throw away/clearance to make room for your books (so how much money would they lose just to put your books on the shelf?

For example, our store was constantly overfull in the Young Adult Fiction section. Everyday we had to go through and clearance and recycle at least one box of books just to make room for all the books we had come in the door that day. However, the religion section was constantly looking for books. We never had enough books to fill that section. When we remodeled, we doubled the kids section and halved the religion section and about a week later we had the same problem. No matter how wonderful the kids books that came in, we couldn't GIVE them away fast enough, just because of how fast they came in.

I am glad that you found another HPB that makes you happy. However, I do not think it is fair of you to have written this negative report on the whole company because of one low offer one day at one store. HPB is NOT a rip off. I am sorry the people at that one store treated you poorly. That is unfortunate. However, they did not cause you to drop your books, and they did not force you to leave without your books. Had you asked politely, I am sure they could have provided you with store plastic bags or something to carry your books out with. Therefore, I think the fact that you left without some of your books is really your fault.

I think if you were to try and file a real report with BBB they would see it my way, as legally, HPB did nothing wrong. Your claims are ridiculous and full of attitude, and hearsay. Nothing that you "overheard" can be proven, and neither can their "sneers", because any lawyer could place reasonable doubt that you thought they were sneering because you had heard them laughing about your books and were then further upset by a low offer.
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#8 Author of original report

I WIsh I Could Believe You...

AUTHOR: Joe - (U.S.A.)

When I was in Dallas,TX I had nothing but the VERY BEST experiences with Half Price Books! I thought they were the greatest and I spent $100s with them.

That South Austin store is a WHOLE OTHER MATTER and I will NEVER GO IN THERE AGAIN --EVEN THOUGH IT HAPPENED SEVERAL YEARS AGO. I will NEVER FORGET how those employees made me feel!
Maybe it is the Austin way ---to yentz people in business... Maybe there were NO aspirant YUPPIES working in the Dallas store but genuine bibliophiles and scholars there... I like to think so and when I took the books to a relative of mine in Dallas, he was able to get a reasonable price for them. Thank you Dallas!

I wish that the new North Lamar and Koenig Lane store had been operational. They do not seem as rude and nasty or immature as the ones in the South Austin store. They treat everyone very well and I DO SHOP THERE. FREQUENTLY.
Fumigate the South Austin store, set out mouse traps and CLEAN HOUSE with those snotty creeps who are about what you would expect to get for minimum wage --they ACT like $5.15 an hour "millionaires."

Because of my HORRIBLE EXPERIENCE there, I hope they will get the upscale trendy (censored) Because I will NEVER set foot in there again!

Love the North Lamar and Koenig location,though.

THESE BOOKS WERE TREASURED AND NOT KEPY IN A BARN OR A GARAGE BUT IN A HUMIDITY CONTROLLED LIBRARY! by the way!
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#9 UPDATE EX-employee responds

they didn't rip you off

AUTHOR: B - (U.S.A.)

First of all, they did not rip you off. They went through your books and honestly tried to come up with an offer. You could have the most wonderful box of books around, in perfect condition first printing, first edition, signed by everyone involved with writing, editing and publishing the books and they still would not amount to more than a hill of beans to the HPB in your area. A book or anything used is only worth what you can sell it for.

I am sure the employee(s) did not slash the bottoms of your boxes. Yes, they do have plenty of sturdy empty boxes around, but HPB pays for those boxes and HPB employees are not supposed to give them out to people. Also, what was their motivation to go out of their way to assist you after you swore at them and called them theives?

Yes, it is back breaking work picking up books off the floor. The employees know that, since they have to do it for 40 hours a week. However, they did not force you to bring in your books, they also did not cause you to drop them. Yes, they probably could have helped you pick them up, but did you ever stop to think that maybe they were busy working on another customer's buy? And, again, what is their motivation to help you?

I worked at a HPB store for 4 years and got accused of this kind of complete nonsense all the time. First of all, the buy policy is stated in signs right above the counter, and in eeral other locations in the store. They also explain the buy policy to everyone who walks in the door. It is based on supply and DEMAND. If
the employee (who has, by the way been highly trained in book-buying, for 6 months plus whatever experience they have accrued after that) cannot honestly forsee anyone buying your books, they cannot pay highly for them. It's as simple as that.
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#10 UPDATE Employee

HPB Buying Policy

AUTHOR: S - (U.S.A.)

Hi there,

It sounds like you probably had a bad customer service experience. HPB has very clear policies on how employees are to present buy offers, and if what you say is accurate, these employees didn't follow that policy at all. We have specific rules about watching what we say in the buy area/commenting on people's books, how to make a buy offer so the customer understands why we pay what we pay, and not making the customer feel like their books are bad.

In terms of the price paid for your books, that's hard to comment on without seeing the books, but I can tell you this, which may help explain the low offer:

1. Condition is a huge factor when it comes to what we can pay for books. Just from the clues that you mentioned in your complaint - an older relative, a box that broke - it sounds like, even though you had some really great titles, the condition may not have been so good. Even though bookstores can succomb to arrogant employees, it's unlikely that the employees were vicious enough to cut the bottom of your box - that would be a HUGE exception, not just to HPB employees, but to human nature in general. So if the box broke, there's a good chance that it was an older box filled with possibly mildewy/moist books (many books stored in basements or garages develop a very moist feeling, even if they aren't exposed to water directly). Also, did the books have dust jackets? If not, that's a big condition factor. Books without dust jackets are marked down significantly unless they are very exceptional.

2. Signatures - signatures aren't always valuable to us, especially when they are from non-fiction authors. We always give things a shot on the shelves, but if it's unlikely that the particular author will sell, except to one single person who might collect it, we don't count it as collectible.

3. First editions - much like signatures, some first editions aren't collectible in terms of our market. They may have a great chance on E-bay, but we have to consider our market for the books. Most non-fiction titles are not collectible, even as first editions. Also, are they first printings? If it's a first edition, but a later printing, that will also lower the value.

The last thing I want to say is this - while there are always exeptions with misbehaving employees, for the most part, HPB employees are sincere. We always, as we are trained, make our best offer. Not the best offer we think we can get away with, but the best offer period. If we truly can't use the books because of condition or volume of the same titles, we have to pay significantly lower, usually a quarter or fifty cents.

I hope that helped!
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