Reading signed books

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Reading signed books

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Editado: Dic 1, 2009, 6:55pm

How do you go about it? Do you read your signed books or do you get an extra book and read that.

I'm a newbie collector and I have started collecting Richard Dawkins signed editions. Unfortunately I am baffled at the moment because I do not know how to go about it. I care immensely (nearly neurotic) about the condition of my books. But I have a very bad habbit and that is I have to scribble with pencil and insert sticky notes on the books I read. So I am thinking of buying two books. One for reading and one for collecting.

If your at a book-signing do you:

1. just get one book signed; or
2. just get one book signed and take another unsigned book for reading

It makes sense that while your there to get both signed. How do you go about it?

Nov 26, 2009, 2:51pm

The great collector Thomas Frognall Dibdin (1776-1847) remarked that a gentleman needs three copies of every book: one for keeping, one for reading and one for lending.

Nov 27, 2009, 1:52pm

What a great remark. Do you collect signed editions? What are you more inclined to buy paperbacks or hardbacks?

Dic 1, 2009, 2:10am

Great topic! I just started a signed book collection and was going to just read the signed copies. I tend to re-read my books, so I'm going to read the signed copy and then buy a cheap copy if I want to underline and highlight.

Editado: Dic 1, 2009, 6:53pm

You don't need to buy a cheap copy. I don't really like reading paperbacks. If I were to choose to buy one paperback and one hard back - I'll rather buy two hardbacks especially since they will usually be both first editions, first print.

Therefore my plan is buying two copies in hardback - 1 signed and 1 unsigned. I'll keep the signed edition in pristine condition with a dust jacket protector and the unsigned I will take the dust jacket off - store it somewhere safe and read that book. It also looks nicer without the dust jacket on your shelf.

And you can store the signed copies at the top of your bookshelf where you will avoid common guests grabbing them whilst storing the unsigned ones at nearer reach.

Dic 1, 2009, 9:57pm

I buy a lot of books and can't afford to buy multiples of first edition hardbacks. I've also never bought the books at signing events - I buy used copies in good condition prior to and take them there. It sounds really cheap but the collection (and subsequent reading) is for my personal enjoyment and I don't care that they're slightly rumpled.

Dic 2, 2009, 9:42am

I don't buy all books I read in multiple copies only ones I collect eg. Richard Dawkins, Booker Prize and a couple of other authors.

I agree with Liz_Toronto that the ultimate aim is for ones own personal enjoyment. I feel by buying two copies I can feel at ease that I have one signed stored safely and the other I can read with a good conscience.

Dic 4, 2009, 1:58pm

I'm mystified by the enjoyment you get from keeping an unread/signed copy on the shelf. I love signed copies & I read them carefully; I might obtain duplicates to lend, but if I like a book well enough to keep a beautiful copy, then I honor it enough to read & enjoy it without drooling on it.

then again, there are lots & lots of duplicates laying around - apparently I need more demanding friends

Dic 4, 2009, 2:07pm

It depends on why it's signed. Did you spend years saving up to buy it? Is it vampire smut fanfic by your annoying neighbor who gave out signed copies for halloween?

Dic 4, 2009, 4:36pm

Well they don't come cheap and that I might suffer from some sort of paranoia that something will happen to the signed edition.

Dic 5, 2009, 2:12pm

I have a tendency to spill coffee all over things now and then, so it's just safer that way!

Dic 6, 2009, 7:09pm

I carefully read mine. If it's something I like to reread I'll buy a nice trade paperback (if available) and keep those in a separate pile.

Mar 6, 2012, 2:24pm

Any book can be read carefully so as not to damage it. One of the keys is to not open it more than 45-90 degrees while reading. Do so with clean hands and cover all dust jackets within a day or so of coming home with them. This last bit, and cataloging in LT, is part of the accessioning process.


Mar 7, 2012, 12:08am

A famous person should ALWAYS write marginalia in the books he or she buys and keeps -- first edition or otherwise -- because their scribbling makes the books more valuable to their heirs. It might also be a good idea for famous people to eat gooey chocolate bars or Kentucky Fried Chicken while they read and write notes in the margins.

Mar 7, 2012, 9:39am

I like to have one hardcover 1st Edition copy of a book signed, and to keep, and a mass market copy to read.

We had Gene Wolfe sign our 1st edition Hardcovers of his New Sun books a couple of weeks back, and I have the 4 Timescape paperbacks of the same set as reading copies. of course these were pretty mass market editions, so it probably would be worth getting them signed as well :-)

Editado: Mar 7, 2012, 5:48pm

Assuming one feels like also (?) reading collected books, I suggest it's nicer to have a separate copy for that purpose. I am old and European and I don't want even to cut the pages of old books I want to COLLECT. As for lending (above #2) it's better just not to, or several copies for the "x"number ox friends who might want to borrow them. Seriously speaking. the solution of #15 cosmicdolphin seems very reasonable - if you don't buy a 42 line Gutenberg Bible (one signed copy should be more than enough.... and you probably own already some mass market King James version) and possibly abstain from scribbling also on the second one.

Mar 26, 2012, 11:10am

I read mine carefully. I'd challenge anyone to be able to tell the difference from an unread copy and a read one!

If you are less careful or accident prone buy a reading copy.

Keep in mind that signed copies don't always appreciate greatly in value.

Editado: Abr 6, 2012, 9:24pm

Este mensaje fue borrado por su autor.

Mar 31, 2012, 1:57pm

My best autographed book is a 1896 first edition of Sarah Orne Jewett's The Country of the Pointed Firs signed by Mary H. Austin dated 1897. Doesn't get much better than that unless Sarah had also signed it herself. :)

Abr 9, 2012, 8:50am

If we agree that books need to be read, the tel-tale sign that a book was used, gives it a historical value, and a cause to wonder who else read it and maybe how they liked it. In my opinion, it makes the book more collectible, even if it takes away from the value. I have a seveneenth century book with a name in it. It may be the name of the Sheriff of London who took it to prison with him, I'll probably never know for sure, but I can continue to wonder about it.
I write in my books, including first editions. The value will probably not change, unless it was purchased for an investment. I do not write in my incunables or my manuscripts. I think we should be selective, but above all we need to enjoy our books, not just look at them on the shelf.

Abr 10, 2012, 11:33am

Dear Carmelo,
Books generally speaking "need to be read", but they can be enjoyed also otherwise: I admire, for example, your binding by yourself some of them, but, although I cannot do the same, I claim the right to enjoy them. I don't like writing on my volumes, as a sign of respect, also because I'm aware of how much intellectual and physical effort go into"good" printing (I've got some private press printer friends).
You too are avoiding writing on your most "precious" books and I can only congratulate you on your collection, the most important LT library I did inspect till today - and which I therefore marked as "Interesting". I cannot afford your outstanding incunabula and other early printed books, which I sometimes try to "imitate" by facsimiles, often disdained by "true believer" bibliophiles. I recently bought a facsimile of the Vatican Latin code 3195, containing PETRARCH's Canzoniere, partially in his own hand. And not long ago, I bought a facsimile of the Canzoniere plus the Triumphi in an illuminated French 15th Century ms from the Austrian National Library. These are possibly not important collectibles, but I wouldn't dream about scribbling on them.
At over 80, I never buy for "investment".
Again, congratulations and kind regards,

Abr 14, 2012, 8:10pm

Alessandro, Thank you for your kind words. I have been building my library since I was five years old starting with the copy of the missal given to me for my first communion. I still have it and it is the most valued book in my library. (I do not write in it)
To clarify my earlier statement, I would never dream of writing in the artist books I have, and certainly not in the classics. I can not add to Petrarca or Dante or Gramsci. But i do write in my modern firsts. It is a habit from my student days. I still have some of my University Text-books. They are heavily underlined, and now 40 years later, I don't remember what I underlined and why.
Lets enjoy our books, They are our companions, and our inspirations, and as friends we can argue with them by writing in them.

Abr 16, 2012, 1:12pm

"If we agree that books need to be read, the tel-tale sign that a book was used, gives it a historical value, and a cause to wonder who else read it and maybe how they liked it. In my opinion, it makes the book more collectible, even if it takes away from the value.

I agree fully. I love buying used books that have inscriptions. To me the unknown story of the person who previously owned the book and/or the person who gave the book to a friend or loved one as a gift for some reason, adds to the intrigue of the book itself. When I originally went through my book collection one by one to post them all on LT, I made a point of googling the names I found inscribed in each book. Every once in a while, I'd find someone really interesting who had owned one of my books.

As to the original subject matter of the thread, I make it a point never to buy a book that I wouldn't take down from the shelf and read if I felt like it. An exception was my first edition Conrad (The Rover), of which I bought a reading copy.

Abr 19, 2012, 2:41pm

I used to keep two copies, one signed and one to read. Now I keep the signed copy and read an e-copy.