Friday, February 10, 2012

Autographed Books

Why do people like getting books signed? If it is a popular author, a signature can raise the value of the book. That is as long as it isn’t made out to anyone in particular. I suppose it would raise it even more if it were made out to an equally wellknown person, but for most of us, having our name on a book we didn’t write will lower the value of the book. But what is it about signatures that make them desirable?

What it really comes down to is that personal connection. In a world in which so many things are mass-produced, an item autographed by its maker is a rare thing. I think people like having a book that they know the author held in his hands and signed. That may mean they have to meet the author and ask him to sign the book. That experience in itself makes it even more meaningful, but the signature alone makes the book unique.

Some people question what will happen to autographed books since it seems that books are going to the eBook format. If anything, I think this will increase the desirability of hand-autographed copies. After all, what value is there in something that is easily duplicated? A book the author has autographed with his own hand cannot be duplicated, even by the author. And autographed copies are by nature a limited edition. How many books can an author sign? It takes me about ten seconds to sign my name. If I spent eight hours a day for a year, just signing books, I could sign about 1,051,200 copies. No author is going to put in that much time signing books, but even if he did, there are some books that sell more copies than that.

I think people get the wrong idea about book signings. They have the idea that they’ll sit at a table in a bookstore and the customers will buy their books because they’re signing books. Some will, but the real value is that fans have an opportunity to meet the author and get a book signed.