Moral issues on signed copies

Somebloke

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Recently I took advantage of the post-Christmas sales to purchase a copy of World War Z. I walked into the nearest Borders to buy the book only to find that it was a signed copy by the author Max Brooks- and half price. Six pounds is six pounds, so I bought the book and started to read it as is my want.

Later on that night I was reading it in between cooking- and my housemate, a collector who will wait overnight to get a signed copy of a CD or movie poster or whatever, saw the book. He immediately started yelling at me for what he saw as my rampant stupidity- the book was not to be read while cooking. It was not to be read at all. It should be kept in mint condition and sold for five times it's resale value down the track when the movie comes out. By reading it and damaging it I've wasted a grand opportunity.

At the end of the day though, all I wanted was to read the damn book. Surely I have a right to do this?
 

Susan Boulton

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At the end of the day though, all I wanted was to read the damn book. Surely I have a right to do this?

Yes, it is your book. I have a number of signed books, most signed especially for me. Both read before signing and read after.

To be honest what is the point of having a book and not reading it.
 

nixie

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My signed copies are treated the same as my other books.I suppose if your a collector and buying to make profit at a later date, you would want to keep it in pristine condition. I'm not a collector only a squirrel who hoards books.They are for reading, anway if a books a little battered around the edges it shows its been enjoyed.
 

K. Riehl

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Yes, you do!
I collect 1st editions and signed editions. If the book is truely good and stands on it's own merits absolute pristine condition won't matter. If you have a slightly better than reading copy hardcover first of Ender's Game you can still sell it for several hundred dollars. Their are large numbers of signed 1st editions out there that are not worth the cover price.
If you read this title and it completely blows your mind then head back down and buy a pristine copy. It helps the author and then you can have one to reread as well as one to set aside.
I enjoyed the first Robert Jordan so much I ran out and bought three hardcover firsts. I was able to trade two of the copies for a Snow Crash 1st edition and a Neuromancer 1st edition.
Collect what you enjoy, Enjoy what you collect!
 

Dr. Atomic

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I never collect for investment -- it's almost an assured way to lose money. It requires buying things at screaming deals, so that even if the item never goes up in value, you can still sell it for more money. Since, more often than not, I don't get a screaming deal on the things I collect, I just assume I won't be able to sell them for more and I enjoy them simply as things I want to own.

In those terms, I don't think there's a problem with reading a book you've had signed. Especially hardcover books, which, frankly, stand up well to reading (unlike paperbacks, which are less durable).

However, that said... If you love the book and you're a fan of the author, and you place PERSONAL value on something that you're not likely to replace, then perhaps reading it isn't the best idea. Or, if nothing else, reading it VERY CAREFULLY. This is simply because you don't want to risk damaging something you care greatly about.

Aside from that... read away!
 

Teresa Edgerton

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As a writer, when I sign a book I would far rather know that the book was going to be read rather than put away on a shelf as a possible investment.

Not that I've ever hesitated signing a book because I knew someone was a collector. If someone plunks down one of my books in front of me and says "Please sign it" the only thing that would stop me would be the absence of a pen.
 

McMurphy

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Recently I took advantage of the post-Christmas sales to purchase a copy of World War Z. I walked into the nearest Borders to buy the book only to find that it was a signed copy by the author Max Brooks- and half price. Six pounds is six pounds, so I bought the book and started to read it as is my want.

Later on that night I was reading it in between cooking- and my housemate, a collector who will wait overnight to get a signed copy of a CD or movie poster or whatever, saw the book. He immediately started yelling at me for what he saw as my rampant stupidity- the book was not to be read while cooking. It was not to be read at all. It should be kept in mint condition and sold for five times it's resale value down the track when the movie comes out. By reading it and damaging it I've wasted a grand opportunity.

At the end of the day though, all I wanted was to read the damn book. Surely I have a right to do this?


It's your book regardless who signed it for you, so it's your decision. :) I have known writers who favor their signatures on something bent up via many readings, and others who feel that they are doing it for collectable reasons.

Personally, as a writer or not, it means nothing to me what others would want me to do with the book. The only exception is when I borrow a signed copy; in those cases, I respect immensely the owner's wishes of treatment. I have known readers that will own two copies: a readable one, and a signed one.

In a very round-about way, I am claiming that you would hear varying opinions by writers, collectors, publishers, fans, dealers, and appraisers, which should provide you with more than enough evidence that there is absolutely no moral element involved.

Now, about the sandwich you are going to make me....
 

dustinzgirl

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You bought it, you own it. You are not breaking any laws or using it to summon demons so who cares? If your friend had bought it, that would be another story. Read the book. Honestly, book collectors are the most annoying people on the universe. Books were meant to be read and loved, not hoarded and hidden. I look at it that if you want to honor the author who signed the book, then give the book a life. Because thats all us writers want for our babies, a good happy healthy home (not that im published yet but when I get there...)
 

Somebloke

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Thanks everyone for the backup.

And McMurphy, I hope you like Zombie sandwiches.
 

Nesacat

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Oh my ... yes please read the book. That's what the book is for whether or not it were signed. Books kept in plastic bags and never read purely for investment is like art being kept in climate controlled safes and never seen. Both are such forlorn things. I have many signed books, some signed especially for me and others bought as signed copies and they have all been read. Many have been read several times over and travelled in bags across the world. Books were meant to be read. Imagine all those words pining away between covers that are never opened. :(
 

j d worthington

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My take is: I've nothing against keeping a book in pristine condition and making sure it's all nice and shiny. Neither is there anything wrong with reading it, and I've seen plenty of writers who would much prefer signing a well-read copy of something they'd written than a nice, never-been-touched-by-human-hands copy (unless you're just buying it hot off the presses). I collect books, and I love them and try to take as good a care of them as possible ... but Nesa's right: books are to be read, not to be stored away in some darkened vault so that the light doesn't bleach them. After all, though the book collectors would deny it is so ... book paper is burning all the time... even the acid-free paper is gradually succumbing to this process, and those which are not printed on acid-free paper are doing so at a much higher rate (if I remember correctly). No matter how you seek to preserve it, it is naturally perishable. It may last centuries or even (if it's very lucky) a few millennia -- though damned few will do that! -- but it is perishable, and there's not a darned thing that can change that.

But the point is: it's your book, your copy, and your decision. Not only do you have the right to read the thing -- my feeling is that you've got a right to whump this person upside the head with a shovel for being such an egregious ass! Honestly!:rolleyes:
 

Pyan

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Your book - your right to do what you want with it.

I had a similar thing when I mentioned to a friend that I had made up an early Revell kit that I had found in a junk shop. He went bananas, told me I was an idiot, and I should have kept it unmade and sold it on, etc, etc.
But I'd rather admire the finished model, after enjoying making it - I mean, a box is a box when all's said and done. He's not a friend any more, and now I can see just how far his head was imbedded...:p

Words are meant to be read - otherwise they're just squiggles on paper. But the important thing is that it is your choice!:)
 

SpaceShip

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As a writer, when I sign a book I would far rather know that the book was going to be read rather than put away on a shelf as a possible investment.

Not that I've ever hesitated signing a book because I knew someone was a collector. If someone plunks down one of my books in front of me and says "Please sign it" the only thing that would stop me would be the absence of a pen.

Quite right Teresa - me too!
 

Lucien21

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I like Stephen King's take on the matter he said in a recent interview at Lilja-Library.

Lilja: Speaking of publishing, it seems less and less of your books have been released in limited editions now. Is that something you have done deliberately?

Stephen King: They are releasing Secretary of Dreams now and Frank Darabont is really high on the idea of doing a limited edition of The Mist. I don’t like them, I don’t like them. I think they are books for rich people and they’re elitist and the whole idea of limiteds… there’s something wrong with it, you know. The idea that people want a book that they can kind of drool over or masturbate on, I don’t know what it is they want with these things but it’s like they get this book and it’s this beautiful thing and they go like, “Don’t touch it, don’t… oh God it’s worth a thousand dollars, he signed it” and all this and my idea of a book that I like is when someone comes up to me at an autographing and you got this old beat-to-**** copy of The Stand and they say, “I’m sorry it looks this way” and I go like, “I’m not”. It means a lot of people have read it and enjoyed it.

Lilja's Library - The World of Stephen King [1996 - 2007]
 

HoopyFrood

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Yay, go Stephen King! What a legend :D

Books are for reading, not for storing away in dark places to be kept in mint condition. In fact, if I had a copy with an author's signiture, I think I'd read it even more because it would be even more special to me. Like everyone else, I think a book that has a few creases down the spine shows that it's given more enjoyment to someone than if it's in perfect condition.

So yes, definitely read it.
 

Steffi

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I agree most of my Stephen King books are first edition and I reread them all the time. My David Eddings are falling apart, so I go to Hay-On-Wye to replace them.

If you buy a book you read it.
 

Coolhand

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For me, buying a book and never reading it is like those people who buy £1000 bottles of fine single-malt whisky and never drink them.

WHAT IS THE POINT?

The poor book/bottle just sits there, useless and unfulfilled. Poor thing. What a tragic end, never being allowed to do the one thing in life it was designed for.
 

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