Books & Authors & Other

Treasure Hunting

Written By: K. L. DeWitt - Jun• 11•13

Finding rare and unusual books to both read and sell is fun, but what can really make our day is finding signed editions.  Not only do they tend to be more valuable (depending on how popular the author is), but it’s like being only 1 degree away – the author at some point had that book in his or her hands.  It’s a very cool feeling.  (The best one we’ve ever found to date was a book written and signed by Albert Einstein!)

Signed books come in many “flavors,” however, such as “flatsigned,” “tipped-in,” “inscribed,” “bookplate,” and so on.  You have to be especially careful of “facsimile” signatures – autographs that have actually been printed on a page of the book by the publisher rather than signed in ink or pencil by a person. Example: when Robert Jordan passed away and another author finished THE GATHERING STORM, the publisher printed a facsimile copy of Jordan’s signature on the title page – people sometimes list it for sale as “signed” not realizing the author would have had to reach out from the grave to actually do it.

Knowing the difference between all the types of autographs is very important when putting a starting price to a book, although it still comes down to what someone is willing to pay to get their hands on an item – you just never know till you try.

Here are some examples of signed books we found recently:


Tale of the Body Thief by Anne Rice Anne Rice Autograph










This is an example of a “flatsigned” autograph – the author has signed her name directly in black marker on the FFE (Front Free Endpaper) with no other writing. Generally these are the most prized – unless the author has inscribed the book to someone famous or related to the book somehow – that would be known as an “association copy.” (In the case of Anne Rice, if the book were inscribed to say, Tom Cruise, that would add to the value.  However, if the book’s inscribed to just any Tom, Dick or Harry, then unless you’re trying to find a book that looks like it could be a gift for said Tom, Dick or Harry, it tends to lower the value of the signature.)


Nicholas Sparks – THE NOTEBOOK

The Notebook by Nicholas SparksNicholas Sparks Autograph










This is an example of a “bookplate” signature – Nicholas Sparks most likely signed a certain amount of these special event bookplates, which were then placed in a set of some of his bestselling softcover books, on the inside front cover. Books with bookplate signatures aren’t usually worth as much as a book that has been signed on directly by an author, but it can depend on the bookplate (and the buyer.)  In this case, the bookplate gives the date, time, and place where the event was held and includes an author photo. (All these details can help establish “provenance” or the authenticity of a signature.)


J. D. Robb (Nora Roberts) – VISIONS IN DEATH

Visions in Death by J. D. RobbJ. D. Robb (Nora Roberts) Autograph











J. D. Robb books can have multiple types of autographs.

Many times, the book will have a “tipped-in” (glued in) JDR facsimile signature page that has her autograph printed on it by the publisher – this has been known to fool many people into thinking they have a signed book.  Other times it will have her “JDR” page “tipped-in” with a real ink signature.  Every once in a while you will come across one where she has signed directly on the FFE or title page.

Because she’s very consistent in her signature, to tell if you have a real autograph or a facsimile, you have to check to see if the page with the signature is in real ink (you can see it bleed through the back of the page) or it’s in a color other than black (as the printed/facsimile ones are in black.)  Having a “signed copy” sticker doesn’t always guarantee that it’s an original autograph as the stickers are easy for a bookstore to obtain, and lots of people who sell books aren’t always aware of the differences in types of autographs.

By the way, if the signature is absolutely identical stroke for stroke to another copy you have, they’re probably both facsimile signed. (The little things you learn through the years.  😉

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