So I've hit a point where I'm wondering why I ever buy unsigned books. In the current economic climate it is more important than ever that we sometimes go out of our way to buy books from independent stores rather than massive chains like Kmart of The Book Depository. But even I can't deny the bargains on offer by massive establishments that can buy mountains of books at a reduced price and pass that saving on. How could an indie establishment compete? The answer for me is simple: give me scribbles.
I love signed books. I love owning a copy of something the author has touched, I get inspired by the inscription they write for me, and they make really lovely gifts to other fans. I'll happily waive my free postage perk if I can get hold of an inscription. Tracking them down though, can be hard. I've been to quite a few really great author events in Tassie recently, Isobelle Carmody and Christopher Paolini to name the two that I was most excited about. But what about my international favourites, who might have no plans of coming anywhere here for a long time yet?
Recently I've struck up alliances with two great bookstores in the U.S. One is Quail Ridge Books in North Carolina, the other is Word in Brooklyn. They've both been really great at allowing me to pre-pay for books that they've sent to me after the authors have visited them. In the past few weeks I've seen copies from John Scalzi, John Hodgman, Lev Grossman and Josh Ritter arrive at my door, and I've been so excited about opening them up. The bookstores have only been too happy to help, and the nature of some of the inscriptions seems to indicate that the authors have too, and have been told a little bit about me by the bookstore staff.
So here's my advice: give yourself a treat. Look up your favourite author, and check their upcoming appearances. It'll usually be under a tab with a title like 'Events' on their official website. Find a bookstore they're heading to in the next couple of weeks that you like the sound of, and either email the store or call them up (from a home phone it's not expensive and they're fun to talk to!) asking if you can pre-pay for an inscribed copy.
Support your authors, support your independent bookstores, and buy something unique from the other side of the world. This really is what the internet is for. Then, when it arrives, ravenously tear open the box and sit back in your armchair, reading a favourite that the author has touched with their very own hands. Do all this and remind yourself how lucky you are. Ebooks haven't quite taken over all the old pleasures just yet.