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Dear John:

I recently acquired an autographed copy of Dark Watch by Clive Cussler, but it was inscribed to the original owner. I know that inscribed books are usually worth much less than a regular autograph, but is there any sort of exception to this rule?" (Will, Portland)

John responds:

You are correct - inscriptions typically negate the value added to a signed book, unless the inscription does not refer to a specific individual (i.e. "To Mary - "). Inscriptions of historical significance, either to the author or to the book subject, will enhance the value of the book. For example, "To Dad on Christmas - Clive Cussler." Or, if the person it is inscribed to is equally or more famous than the author: "To John Travolta - Nelson Demille."

While personal inscriptions are generally avoided by the collector community, upon the death of the author, or as a book becomes more scarce, such inscriptions become tolerated.

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