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Monday, June 15, 2015

Discussion: Signature Alone vs Personalization

I really only have one more point I'd like to discuss that came to mind during BEA and I’d like to get opinions on the matter. It is regarding getting a book signed. Do you request signature only or a personalized book?

I have always been an advocate for the personalized books, but the more I have thought about it recently, the less inclined I am to get books personalized. Let’s face it, I can’t take my library with me no matter how I may try to make that possible. No one will want a copy of a book signed to me and they would have no resale value if personalized. This is all a theoretical "after I’m gone" discussion. Morbid, right?

What I tell the authors, as I am not about to spew my "after I'm gone" sentiments (they'd think I was crazy and would probably be right) and they all seem to assume we want them personalized, is that I don’t know where the book will end up. Which is true. That it will start with me. Also true. And that I like to share the love. True that too.

Most authors understand and don’t have an issue, but I feel I was the victim of non-personalization prejudice. I was in line for a book, title and author shall remain nameless. He/she was, after all, a personable guy/gal. The point is, I had time to see what he/she was doing when signing. Everybody, and I do mean everybody but me, was getting their books personalized. He/she was signing on the title page, adding a witty sentence and then stamping the page with an awesome octopus ink stamp.

When it was my turn, I gave him/her the spiel, don’t know where it will end up, etc. So the first thing is he/she signed on the end papers, not the side glued to the cover, but the first page when you open the book. It does have a lovely ocean wave sort of coloring, but he/she signed his name and handed me the book.

Um, what? Excuse me! Where is my freaking octopus stamp?

I am not laboring under any false assumption that had I gotten it personalized I still would not have gotten an octopus stamp. I totally would have. He/she wouldn’t have thought twice about it, but it makes me feel like I bought the copper package or tickets for the cheap seats. I got my golden ticket, but I drank from the chocolate river, I stole fizzy lifting drink. So I get nothing. I lose. Good day sir!

Have any of you experienced anything like this? And I’m curious to know that for those of you thoroughly entrenched in the signing not personalized camp if you think it makes a difference in how the author relates to you. And for any authors out there, how do you feel when someone just asks for a signature and not the book to be personalized?

I'll be waiting to hear your thoughts, or read them, whatever.


  1. I only get my books personalized if they're from my favorite authors, otherwise I just ask for a signature. Some authors gave me a funny look when I didn't want the book personalized, so I started telling them I was going to share the book after I read it. That still earned funny looks, so I switched my story to something lame, like I didn't like my name. I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings by refusing their book (the multi-author signings come to mind), but I didn't want a personalized copy of something I didn't want either.

    Yeah, I'd be annoyed if I didn't get the cool octopus stamp too!

    1. More and more I am with you on that. Oh, if only I had listened to you when we went to our first BEA together. I was certainly more confident about just asking for signatures this year, but I think some authors think the books will be sold.

      And what if I wanted to have a giveaway (okay, not likely to happen any time soon, but it could and the author wouldn't know that). Then I feel like I am saying I don't know who you are as an author and don't care, but you're good enough to give away.

      If it weren't for that darned octopus stamp I would never have thought of it. I did try to go back during Book Con to get another signed copy, this one personalized, but it conflicted with something and when I went back they couldn't guarantee a book.

      No octopus stamp for me. I lose. Good day, sir.

  2. Do you know I think I have only been asked signature/personalised the once so hadn't really thought about this .... until know ... when I decided that I'd actually prefer a signature as opposed to a personalised message.

    1. I used to feel like I had to get everything personalized when I first started attending BEA. I was just so enthusiastic and eager to please. I am finding more and more that I am just getting books personalized from authors that are favorites.

      Way back when I was in the book biz, before I met Terri, so over 20 years ago, I went to a smaller book event with my district manager. There was a guy signing his book of poetry and as I had never really been to one of these affairs, I had him sign it to me. I have never read the book and I still have it. Can't give it away. No one is going to want a book signed to someone else, so I feel my options are to either keep it forever or just recycle it.

      And that's a really sad thought.