Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Investing in books - Karen Bush



Yes, I got a book signed by Nick too!

     Not long ago, Nick Green kindly signed a copy of the first of his Cat Kin books for my godson's birthday. Actually, I couldn't wait that long to give it to him, so he ended up getting it at Easter instead.
     "Look!" I told him. "It's a signed first edition!"
     "What's a first edition?" he asked, turning the first pages. "Oh no! Look, someone's written all over it."
     I explained to him that the person who had written the book had written a special message to him, which made it a bit extra special.
     His mum came over to take a look.
     "Oh, you must look after it very carefully" she said.
     "No, no!" I cried, "It's more important that you read it and enjoy it than that you worry about creasing the spine or leaving fingerprints on the pages ..."

I'd already exchanged emails with Robin Hobb, and
it was great to actually meet her in the flesh.
And yes, she was lovely!.
My first autographed First Edition, a
copy of Fundamentals of Riding 
by my friend and mentor Charles Harris.
     I have a small but much cherished collection of signed first editions myself. They have all been well-read and thumbed through many times, destroying any value they might have to a collector. For me though, the real value lies in the stories, rather than the author's signature - that is just a self-indulgent bit of fun. Although it does of course, represent also having had the treasured opportunity to meet and talk with the authors, even if it's only briefly, and of being able to thank them in person for having written books that have given me and others so much enjoyment.

Not an investment!
Well, not a financial one.
     Which is why my blood boiled when I found myself, some years ago, standing in a queue at Ottakers to get the second Artemis Fowl book signed by Eoin Colfer. My copy was already a little battered, due to having been lugged around with me to various places while I read it, but behind me stood two gents in smart suits clutching several pristine just-off-the-shelf copies. I assumed they were buying for their children ... but no. As I eavesdropped on their conversation, it transpired that they were hoping that this was going to be the next JK Rowling and that having missed out on getting signed first editions of her books, they weren't going to miss out on this potential money making opportunity.

     Books above all, are made to be read. Not viewed as potential financial investments, and placed in plastic bags and locked away safely where they will never be read and loved.
     Obviously, that will never happen with a digital book.

And signed books can also be terrific fundraisers.
Tony Head kindly wrote the foreword and then also signed
this copy of Dog-Friendly Gardening to auction to raise funds for charity.
     Because when someone downloads an ebook, it is because they want to read it, and to profit from it in an entirely different way.

Archie and Angel even have a book dedication
of their own, from Stephanie Mehanna.
The book?
Pupcakes, naturally.

4 comments:

Lydia Bennet said...

I agree, books are for tough love, and I have loads of signed books. As a poet, I sell lots of books at readings and people want them signed -I buy other poets' books and have them signed too, and the same goes for novelists. A lot of them are friends. Nice to have them. I don't think much of this 'buying for investment' attitude to books and toys. Of course, if enough people buy for that reason, the things never attain much monetary value anyway!

Nick Green said...

'Someone's written all over it!' - oh, that did make me larf.

And you're so right. The important words in the book are not the personal message and autograph in the front, but the many thousands that come after.

Catherine Czerkawska said...

So true! Books are for reading and loving. Some of my favourites fall apart at the seams and I have to replace them eventually.

John Sims said...

I wholeheartedly agree that books are to be read, and I'm very pleased when I have books signed by the author, especially when signed for me. BUT why should your blood boil when the 'gents in smart suits' queue to have books signed as 'investments'? Yes, the books should be read, but if books are being sold, making money for the author and publisher, why not? And my signed copies have all been read, 'onest.