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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 little significance.

We have seen authors sign in various places, and with different methodology.

The 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.

Inscriptions (a 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.

A popular 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.

Occasionally some authors sign on the dust jacket. We would advise against this variation as they are not technically "signed books."

Author signed 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 Clancy, Michael Crichton, Donald Westlake and others. We have assembled a sizable inventory of bookplates over our tenure in the business.

I hope this has answered your question, and offered some insight into accepted practices within the marketplace.

VJ Books
July 29, 2015

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Burning Chambers, The | Mosse, Kate | Signed UK Limited Edition Mosse, Kate | Burning Chambers, The | Signed UK Limited Edition

Author Signed UK Limited Edition Book.  May 2018 LON: Pan Macmillan Limited UK edition, first printing, mint, new/unread in a flawless dust jacket, signed by the author,  Each dust jacket is protected in an acid-free archival quality acetate cover.

VJ Books Price $69.99