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To sign or not to sign, that is the question


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#1 P0wderf1nger

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 12:44

This comes from Mike Lawrence at the start of his thread on a Tony Brooks book, supported by an even higher authority:

"Anything which makes it to the book will be acknowledged and I will try to arrange a complimentary copy. If you are in luck, it will be one of the rare, unsigned, copies. It is a fact that a signed copy ot a book is reckoned to be spoiled. so cannot be returned to the wholesaler. I learned that from Doug Nye."

With all due respect to the Good and the Great, my question is, 'spoiled' in whose perception? I can see that a bookseller not wishing to commit to selling X copies might consider signed books would spoil the 'return' part of 'sale or return', and that a wholesaler's options might be compromised by returned copies which are signed.

But in the eyes of the enthusiast or the collector, signed is good, not spoiled. And for the author, hoping to earn a crust from all his effort, and his publisher, seeking a return on his risk, commitment from a bookseller is also good, not spoiled. So all hail to booksellers who do like to sell signed copies, and effectively show that commitment.

Am I right? Or talking b****cks? Mike? Doug?

Rgds

Paul

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#2 Giraffe

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 13:17

I believe it to be a technical issue regarding returns to the publisher only. The publisher draws clear guidelines as to what is a "spoilt" book, and that involves copies marked in ink, for whatever reason. Seems reasonable enough to me.

#3 f1steveuk

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 13:37

My publisher asked me to do a "Limited Edition" run of my last one. The first fifty were signed by many of those. whose names appeared in the chapters within, plus we used Sir Malcolm Campbell's own library stamp. It was only fifty, and have only ever signed books, only ever putting a personal dedication in if asked, but surely these are already "brought" and of no consequence to the publisher??

#4 RA Historian

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 14:00

Back in 1989 or so, Stirling Moss was at Road America and was selling copies of his book with Doug Nye, the title of which escapes me at the moment but it is the one "Car by Car". At any rate, I eagerly forked over the cash and Moss asked me if I wanted it personalized. Of course, I said yes. Stirling said that a non-personalized book would have greater resale value, was I sure? I said I was. My reasoning is that I certainly could not foresee any reason that I would want to sell it in the future, and having a book in my library autographed to me by the great Stirling Moss is, to me, more valuable than a few bucks from selling it.

On the author side I have signed stacks of my books for various book sellers with a generic autograph. Hope that did not render the books unsaleable!

Tom

#5 Giraffe

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 14:08

On the author side I have signed stacks of my books for various book sellers with a generic autograph. Hope that did not render the books unsaleable!


No, but unreturnable...............


#6 P0wderf1nger

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 14:09

My publisher asked me to do a "Limited Edition" run of my last one. The first fifty were signed by many of those. whose names appeared in the chapters within, plus we used Sir Malcolm Campbell's own library stamp. It was only fifty, and have only ever signed books, only ever putting a personal dedication in if asked, but surely these are already "brought" and of no consequence to the publisher??

Is that 'Leap Into Legend' you're referring to, Steve? If so, one of those 50 showed up at the Bonhams Festival of Speed auction. Can't recall what it fetched.

Rgds

Paul

#7 Arjan de Roos

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 14:17

Isn't a spoiled book when it is damaged, or a former library book, contains writing / notes from unknown earlier owners or is signed by grandma for first owners 10th birthday?

I suppose a book with a known drivers signature, even with a personal inscription should not be decreased in value, on the contrary.

#8 Vitesse2

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 14:31

I believe it to be a technical issue regarding returns to the publisher only. The publisher draws clear guidelines as to what is a "spoilt" book, and that involves copies marked in ink, for whatever reason. Seems reasonable enough to me.

Exactly. My bookselling days are long ago, but it was a rule of thumb that if you had a signing session you either politely declined the author's offer to "sign a few more for people who couldn't make it" or grudgingly allowed them to sign five or so copies ....

The occasional signed copy would make its way back to the publisher - who would refuse credit on the grounds that it was damaged. But they wouldn't send it back to the bookseller to give him the chance to sell it either :rolleyes:

It was a standing joke in the trade that unsigned copies of certain books - Ted Heath's "Sailing" for example - were substantially rarer than signed ones.

#9 Tony Matthews

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 14:38

There was a time when I was selling prints of a 'D'-Type cutaway, several orders flooded in, and most requested personalisation, which was free. An Australasian order was despatched, signed 'To X, Best wishes, Tony Matthews'. I had fooloshly offered to cover postal charges, which in this case were about 20% of the price of the print. Some weeks later I had an anxious e-mailed inquiry. No probs, I said, I'm sorry, but just give it a bit more time. A month later came another e-mail, this time a little firmer - could I send another one? I did - another print, another scribble, another tube, more wrapping paper, and another extortionate postal charge. Three weeks later I had mail to say - Guess what? they've both arrived! What did I want to do about the second one, did I want it returned? Now X was not a rare name, but on the other hand, not as common as John or Micheal, so there was only one course of action - I suggested that if another enthusiast with the same name could be found, give or sell it on!

Certainly, signing a stack of prints is a bigger pain than is appreciated, books can't be any easier, and you really need two helpers.

Edited by Tony Matthews, 13 August 2009 - 14:39.


#10 f1steveuk

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 14:54

Is that 'Leap Into Legend' you're referring to, Steve? If so, one of those 50 showed up at the Bonhams Festival of Speed auction. Can't recall what it fetched.

Rgds

Paul


Mike Fairholme told me about that, shade under £400, ridiculous!

I was asked to add a dedication to an already signed book the other day, didn't have the heart to tell the chap it was my name, but not my signature!


#11 green-blood

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 15:03

Mike Fairholme told me about that, shade under £400, ridiculous!

I was asked to add a dedication to an already signed book the other day, didn't have the heart to tell the chap it was my name, but not my signature!


ouchie... I'll send you over my copy if you can stamp that one too it would be great... or I could just make up a stamp, probably cheaper than the postage !!!!!!!! :down: :evil:

#12 Sharman

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 15:32

Whizzo asked me if I had bought his book and if so he'd sign it for me. I told him I was waiting for it to be remaindered to which the reply was to the effect I should do something not only impossible but unnatural.

#13 ensign14

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 16:40

This comes from Mike Lawrence at the start of his thread on a Tony Brooks book, supported by an even higher authority:

"Anything which makes it to the book will be acknowledged and I will try to arrange a complimentary copy. If you are in luck, it will be one of the rare, unsigned, copies. It is a fact that a signed copy ot a book is reckoned to be spoiled. so cannot be returned to the wholesaler. I learned that from Doug Nye."

I read somewhere that at least one author habitually popped into bookshops and signed his own books, so that they could not be remaindered.

#14 f1steveuk

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 17:06

Is that 'Leap Into Legend' you're referring to, Steve? If so, one of those 50 showed up at the Bonhams Festival of Speed auction. Can't recall what it fetched.

Rgds

Paul


I trust you'll sign my copy of your much awaited book Paul!?


#15 P0wderf1nger

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 18:21

I trust you'll sign my copy of your much awaited book Paul!?

It will be my very great pleasure, I look forward to putting a face to a name.

#16 RA Historian

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 19:14

No, but unreturnable...............

"heh, heh, heh, heh," the author chuckled evilly......... :evil:

Tom

#17 fbarrett

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 20:38

Friends:

As an author, editor, bookseller, and book collector, I love signed copies! Authors, drivers, photographers, and editors are welcome to sign my books. And in over 30 years of selling books, I've never returned any to the distributor or publisher. A signed copy of an out-of-print title always has a higher value--and a more personal feel--than an unsigned one.

Frank

#18 D-Type

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 20:38

This may explain why a book I bought in Chaters sale turned out to be signed by the author.



#19 ensign14

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 22:02

There was a story that someone once wrote a letter to Peter Sellers. "Dear Mr Sellers, I love your work and would like a singed photograph of yourself, and would be grateful if you could send one through."

Sellers promptly took a publicity photo, scrawled his name on it, and carefully applied a lit match to the edges before blowing the resulting flame out and sending the photo on.

Two weeks later he got a reply. "Dear Mr Sellers, thank you very much for the singed photograph. Unfortunately, I need another one, as someone has signed it all around."

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#20 Arjan de Roos

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 07:14

Great story, but shouldn't it be in the "To singe or not to singe thread". :p

#21 P0wderf1nger

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 11:00

Friends:

As an author, editor, bookseller, and book collector, I love signed copies! Authors, drivers, photographers, and editors are welcome to sign my books. And in over 30 years of selling books, I've never returned any to the distributor or publisher. A signed copy of an out-of-print title always has a higher value--and a more personal feel--than an unsigned one.

Frank

Good for you, my feeling pricisely.

#22 Red Socks

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 11:17

My leather bound copy of Time and Two Seats is signed by everyone I ever meet who is in it-over 300 signatures now.I feel quite sure it has not added very much to the value but it is a wonderful record.
On the other hand my cloth copy is in is original cardboard box and never even opened. I suspect that one would show a better return.

#23 Giraffe

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 11:25

Good for you, my feeling pricisely.

There's no arguement about that, but you can't return them to the publisher as it contravenes basic ground rules. There is no difference in law between someone scribbling in a book in order to deface it, and signing their autograph in it; it's just the direction of the ink, and it's in order to provide the publisher with some legal protection for this.
I own many autographed books in many different categories in addition to motorsport and the added value in monetary terms is irrelevant to me as I own them for the pure personal enjoyment of doing so. :up:


#24 Terry Walker

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 11:26

Reminds me of an anecdote from the movie world. In the 1950s Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas were so often confused with each other by the autograph hounds that they happily signed each others names.

Now I wonder: which would be more valuable: a Kirk Douglas autograph by Kirk Douglas, or a Kirk Douglas autograph by Burt Lancaster??

Edited by Terry Walker, 14 August 2009 - 11:27.


#25 Giraffe

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 11:39

Reminds me of an anecdote from the movie world. In the 1950s Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas were so often confused with each other by the autograph hounds that they happily signed each others names.

Now I wonder: which would be more valuable: a Kirk Douglas autograph by Kirk Douglas, or a Kirk Douglas autograph by Burt Lancaster??


The Beatles were notorious for signing each other's names! I don't have a huge collection of autographs, but I've stuck to the rule of always collecting them myself personally in the presence of whoever's signing for me, as it's the easiest thing in the world to forge them as is currently happening with the craze for signed memorabilia.
(Similarily with model cars, I only collect those that I have either owned, driven, or seen race in period; that way my collection remains personal, manageable and meaningful).

#26 zakeriath

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 15:25

On a trip back from New York a few years ago I had the choice to read either Ian Woosnam or John Mcenroe autobiographies. I choose Woosnams, of course who had to sit next to me on the flight was Mcenroe.

So I have the woosnam book signed to me by Mcenroe

I only collect autographs (as Giraffe states above) only if I collect them myself, normally start with a request to personalise them and by stating it ruins the e bay value.

#27 Giraffe

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 16:15

Talking of autographs, I know a Lebanese guy (& have known him for 20 years) who lives in Cheshire now and has made a very good living out of producing signed & framed photographs of stars of sport, the stage and screen. (I thought his £40 Marilyn Monroes were a bit of a give away a few years ago though! :blush: ) He's not the guy from Cheshire who recently went to prison for it, but for every legitimate trader out there (& there are some), there are twenty more banging out fakes. The legit ones are even going to the the effort of getting photographed with the person during the signing, such is the extent of the problem created largely by e-bay. That's why I don't trust anyone but myself to collect an autograph.

#28 zakeriath

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 16:31

Did the same myself at last years Welsh Rally with Valentino Rossi, had asked him sign a nastro azzurro no 46 cap with the intention of selling in on e bay, had the photo taken with the signed hat on next to Rossi. (being a marhal helps to get closer than most, exept for the GP`s)

However when it came to selling it, just couldnt do it, just added to the pipe of other collectables (that my daughter look on as their inhertitance.



#29 retriever

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 18:16

As booksellers we obtain virtually all our stock as firm sale from specialist wholesalers/distributors - so the idea of returning signed unsold stock is not relevant.

As publishers we have never pursued the 'signed copy' path. Today it seems to be done to death and its popularity is due either to the vanity of the author or the reflected glory of the buyer in having a 'signed copy'. There was one author who would sign everything out of site so much so that we would promote his titles at events as a genuine unsigned copies.

Taking this to further extremes there are also the limited edition signed copies complete with numbered certificates and/or leather bound covers etc etc. All this leaves me cold - it is the content what matters.



www.nynehead-books.co.uk

#30 Giraffe

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 20:49

All this leaves me cold - it is the content what matters.



www.nynehead-books.co.uk


Well that is highly commendable, but as a businessman you should always be looking at opportunities to add value to your product and thus increase your profitability, surely?
I have purchased signed copies of books in the past, but only to use as gifts with a mildly personal touch for those with a particular interest in the subject. My personal collection of autographed books usually contain comments or a story relative to the circumstances of our meeting, and my most treasured being from Wilbur Smith, Brian Redman (Chevron book, keep chasing him for his!), George Best (I decked him by mistake in 1971! :blush: ) and would you believe Eamonn Andrews whom I met on New Years Eve, 1963/4 at my Uncle's house!

Edited by Giraffe, 14 August 2009 - 20:56.


#31 RA Historian

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 22:56

I own many autographed books in many different categories in addition to motorsport and the added value in monetary terms is irrelevant to me as I own them for the pure personal enjoyment of doing so. :up:

I agree wholeheartedly with that!
Tom

#32 retriever

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 23:34

Well that is highly commendable, but as a businessman you should always be looking at opportunities to add value to your product and thus increase your profitability, surely?


It is such a hollow gesture to be promoting every book one produces with the opportunity to buy a 'signed copy'. It's a form of exploitation and honestly we are not into that. Our books stand and sell by their reputation - signing adds no value whatsoever - financial or otherwise. It is fad that has got completely out of hand, just like all those personalised number plates that you now see everywhere. People who have got that sort of money to waste on such self indulgent trivia should look inwards and think about investing in others - charities, supporting child projects in Africa - rather than feed their own vanity. Sorry, rambling on again!

www.nynehead-books.co.uk






#33 Giraffe

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 07:43

- signing adds no value whatsoever - financial or otherwise.


Yes it does: it creates additional demand which equates to incremental sales. If this was not the case, why would the publisher/bookseller bother with what is essentially a nuisance to all concerned?

Edited by Giraffe, 15 August 2009 - 07:44.


#34 f1steveuk

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 15:29

The "Limited Edition" run I refered to earlier was sold for exactly the same amount as the "normal" ones, it was just done as a gesture. Any other copies of that particular book wer either signed in a shop, or when asked, sometimes in the most bizarre of places (once at the top of a mountain in Austria!).

#35 Mal9444

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 17:54

I have never seen the point of collecting autographs, indeed I have, frankly, always thought it rather sad: vicarious fame, and all that. Just to have someone sign your autograph book - where lies the relationship in that (unless, of course, one is collecting them commercially)?

On the other hand to have a book or artefact signed by someone with whom one had forged a genuine connection is very satisfactory. I have some first editions (sadly, they never ran to second editions ): ) of one or two sailing books what I wrote signed by the people what I wrote about - and they are very special. But also very personal. I also have an unsigned copy of the aforementioned book by Ted Heath: when, long after the book was published, remaindered and out of print I got to make his acquaintence he confirmed its value.

I have two models of 722: one 'mint', as they say, and one signed by Jenk's chaufeur: which is the more valuable? And a (well-thumbed) copy of My Cars My Career signed not only by that Stirling Moss fellah but also by the great Doug Nye himself, personally and in person.

But listen while I tell you: I also have an LP of The Spinners Around the World, the sleeve of which is signed by every one of the eponymous ensemble. AND a penny whistle given to me personally by Tony Davis. Can anyone beat that?

... did I say something about sad?



#36 Giraffe

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 07:21

AND a penny whistle given to me personally by Tony Davis. Can anyone beat that?


With relative ease, Mal; I've an autographed (genuine) tickling stick from Ken Dodd................. :blush:


#37 Mal9444

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 13:14

With relative ease, Mal; I've an autographed (genuine) tickling stick from Ken Dodd................. :blush:


Wow! :eek: :rolleyes:

(edit after more careful thought): ... but did he give you the music for it?

Edited by Mal9444, 16 August 2009 - 17:26.


#38 ensign14

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 14:34

Pipettes setlist signed by the band?

#39 f1steveuk

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 18:04

With relative ease, Mal; I've an autographed (genuine) tickling stick from Ken Dodd................. :blush:



I suspect it was tax deductable ;)

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#40 Giraffe

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 19:06

I suspect it was tax deductable ;)

Ken told me he stuffed all of his cash into a violin; it was a tax fiddle........... :smoking:


#41 f1steveuk

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 19:15

Ken told me he stuffed all of his cash into a violin; it was a tax fiddle........... :smoking:



Giraffe 1 Me O :up: