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About Buying Signed Books

An autographed book from your favorite author can turn an item of personal value into a cherished keepsake of financial worth. Whether one of hundreds or one of a kind, a signed book is a wonderful addition to any book collection.

When buying signed books, you should be aware of the following terms:

  • Signed by author: Book has been signed by the author.
  • Signed by illustrator: Book has been signed by the illustrator.
  • Inscribed by author: Author has written a personal note, in addition to signing.
  • Inscribed by owner, Owner's inscription, or Gift inscription: The previous owner of the book has added an inscription, i.e. if the book was a gift. These terms generally do not mean the book is signed by the author, so you should read the description carefully.

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Signing a book is probably the simplest form of marketing that an author can perform. For the book's owner, an author's signature can instantly transform a mass-produced item into a personal treasure.

Getting a book signed-in person provides the opportunity to meet a favorite author and usually includes the chance to hear them read. Book signing events near you can be found in your local media or you can check author and publisher websites. Another great way to get your books signed is to attend book fairs and literary festivals. Both provide opportunities to have books signed by up-and-coming authors before they hit the big time.

But you can also buy signed books without meeting the author. Try rare bookshops and their catalogs, rare book fairs, and right here at AbeBooks. Generally speaking, signed first editions will usually be more expensive, while later editions signed by author are often more affordable.

Some authors tour regularly to promote their latest releases and will sign huge numbers of books (Salman Rushdie and Ken Follett are both prolific signers). Authors nominated for awards such as the Man Booker Prize or the Pulitzer Prize will also often sign many copies in the period leading up to and immediately following the announcement of the winner. When an author signs many books, those copies can be very affordable. Other authors tour much less after becoming hugely successful, making their signed books more scarce, and therefore (sometimes) more valuable. Obviously, the supply of signed copies comes to a halt - and their value often increases - with the death of an author.

Sometimes the signature of a famous illustrator can be as important as that of the author. Quentin Blake has illustrated and signed many of Roald Dahl's books, as has Hunter S. Thompson's illustrator Ralph Steadman. A book signed by both the author and illustrator is especially prized.

Read More About Collecting Signed Books

Watch: $25,000 for a Signed First Edition of Where the Wild Things Are

 

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