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VJ Books answers your questions about signed tip-ins

Welcome to our 21st article in our ever popular “Book Collecting 101” series!

This series of articles offers the book collector detailed information about many aspects of the book collecting hobby.

As a purist, I have always preferred that my books be signed on the title page. This has been the standard for about 25 years. There is something mystical about knowing that the author actually held your copy of the book.


Beginning several years ago, major publishers and booksellers started using tip-ins for author signings. A “tip-in” is a page signed by the author that is inserted into the book either during or after binding. The use of the tip-in has greatly expanded the number of signed titles that are available to collectors, as tip-in page signing is a much more effective way of producing signed books. Large increases in shipping costs and damage during transit, have made sending books to authors for signing largely a thing of the past. Most authors are no longer willing to handle books shipped to them for signing. It is much easier for an author to sit down and sign a large quantity of tip-in pages than it is to unpack, sign, repack and ship boxes of books.

Tip-ins are now almost the only method that publishers use for author signings. All signed books offered by big box stores are of the tip-in variety.

Books signed on the title page are sometimes available from venues that host author events, or from retailers that have special arrangements with authors. Whenever possible, VJ Books arranges title page signings, but can no longer guarantee such a product. We do not differentiate on how a book is signed. Our inventory is just too large to make this possible. The COVID19 pandemic has all but eliminated author tours and special signing events. Publishers cancelled author personal appearances and moved to virtual events. For these events, many publishers have moved to sending bookplates to participating bookstores. Similar to a tip-in, a bookplate contains an author’s signature and is pasted inside a book. The bookstores are expected to add the bookplate to books being sold. Are these considered signed books? Some say yes, but over the years we have determined that book collectors do not prefer bookplates.

Other publishers have moved to creating preprinted signing pages that have the appearance of title pages, but are still tipped in during or after binding. One publisher has a printed page that reads “This signed edition has been specially bound by the publisher.” It is signed by the author and tipped into the book. Don’t be fooled – it is still a tip-in! We have learned that some publishers actually replace the title page with one that has been printed later, signed by the author, and inserted in place of the original title page after binding. Tip-in? Actually yes, but it is hard to tell which titles use this technique.

Sometimes this tip-in page will state that the number of copies being produced is limited – “This edition is limited to 500 copies.” Such a page is a bound (or tipped-in) sheet that is part of a book's front matter. It is often inserted between the flyleaf and the half-title page. If it is tipped-in, then it has been added after the base manufacturing process has been completed by gluing it into the book. The superior method is the bound-in method with the page native to the book itself.

Unfortunately, tipped in pages are fast becoming the only choice available to collectors. If you absolutely do not want these added to your collection you will have to seek them out from elite bookstores that still have relationships directly with authors. Books that are hand signed on the title page are beginning to cost more, and this trend will only expand as these books become scarcer.

People buy artistic items, like collectable books, because they offer something that is out of the ordinary. It takes highly specialized tools, manufacturing techniques, materials, business connections, staff, and extensive know-how to produce a book that is both pleasing to the eye and sensual to the hand.

VJ Books continues to offer the most extensive variety of signed and collectable titles that the industry has to offer.


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