Does it matter where a book is signed by the author?
This is an often
asked question, by both new and experienced collectors. I would
offer that where the author's signature appears in the book is of
We have seen
authors sign in various places, and with different methodology.
commonly preferred method is for the author to sign a name only on
the title page (the page in front of the copyright page). Some of
the most popular authors, for instance
Tom Clancy and John Grisham,
choose to sign on the blank page following the first free endpaper
(see parts of the book). Scifi author
Orson Scott Card prefers to
sign on the first title page because it better accommodates the size
and shape of his signature.
message dedicated to someone) is considered less desirable than a
signature only, unless the person it is inscribed to is equally or
more famous than the author, or in the instance when a book is
inscribed to the author's agent or family member.
variation has arisen in the UK. It has an author write the first
line of the book being signed. While this is a novel approach, I
believe it is expecting a bit much of the author, and we have never
asked one to do so. Of course, having them add a date is acceptable,
but when we have an author sit down to sign hundreds of books,
signature only is the most likely, and acceptable, outcome.
Signed tip-ins are an accepted practice of major publishers and some
bookstores. A tip-in is a blank page signed by the author, and bound
into the front (typically following the first free endpaper) of a
book, either during or after binding. Most signed books shipped to
bookstores directly from the publisher are of this design. It is a
common practice, and these editions are legitimate signed copies as
they bear the author's true signature. Almost all signed books
sold by the megastores are of this variety.
authors sign on the dust jacket. We would advise against this
variation as they are not technically "signed books."
bookplates are adhesive labels that are either stuck to, or laid
loosely into a book. Some say if it is attached that it makes it a
signed book, but that remains up for debate. However, stock
bookplates have allowed us to deliver titles with the author's
signature after the author is no longer living. This practice has
made it possible for us to increase the desirability of books by Tom
Michael Crichton, Donald Westlake and others. We have
assembled a sizable inventory of bookplates over our tenure in the
I hope this has
answered your question, and offered some insight into accepted
practices within the marketplace.
July 29, 2015