I never used to think much about different editions of books or their covers. I appreciated nice covers, of course, but I’d usually go for the cheapest version of a book; I spent a lot of time in secondhand bookstores.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve taken more of an interest in buying new books. This is a combination of now being out of school and moving to England from Canada, so I had to give away most of my books. So, as I rebuild my book collection, I figure why not make it pretty?
The books that I have signed copies of
The importance of pre-orders
My interest has also increased because I’ve been following more authors on social media. They talk regularly about how important pre-orders are as this can let publishers know that there is interest in their books. Also, the pre-sales numbers are included in the first week of sales. The better a book does in that first week, the more publicity and opportunities the author will get in the future.
This is especially important for books in a series. If an early book does not do well in a series, the momentum for the author and the publishers will come to a stop. This could mean that future books in that series won’t be written. Writing is difficult and time-consuming, so if a writer has to prioritise family, work, and any other responsibilities, then writing can be pushed to the side.
Even if it is a stand-alone, it could impact an author’s ability to sell any future stories.
Whether a book is signed or not doesn’t affect this, but pre-orders tend to be sold with a discount as the order is occurring before the publishing date. I’ve never seen a signed book be more expensive than a non-signed one, so there is no loss for ordering a signed copy.
I think I found this the most surprising when I started gaining interest in special edition books because I had always assumed that signed books would be sold at a premium. Amazingly, they aren’t!
I think that all of this is part of the marketing strategy. If books are discounted early, have extra perks (e.g. signed), and have a beautiful or special edition cover, then that will encourage people to want to buy it. It all definitely works on me!
A note on pre-orders: this counts for library copies, as well. If there is a book that is coming out and you’re interested in it, contact your local library to ask them if they’re able to get a copy. I doubt they’d focus on getting a signed copy, but this can be helpful if you want to read a particular book and support an author, but aren’t interested in spending money.
How signatures connect stories to their authors
For me, the signature reminds me that these stories are written by people and there is a connection – they’ve touched this copy that I have (or at least the bookplate).
A couple of times, I have been lucky enough to go to author signings. I have met Cornelia Funke, Tomi Adeyemi, Elizabeth Uviebinené, and Yomi Adegoke. They were all incredibly kind and it was great to be able to share in their excitement for their books.
When I was younger, authors always felt removed from the books I read. Writing stories seemed like the work mythical figures, not actual people. It didn’t help that a lot of the books and stories that I studied in school were by authors who were no longer alive. The signatures are a physical reminder that there are people writing incredible stories right now. As an unpublished writer, there is a promise of possibility.
I have other books that I’ve bought because of their covers (looking at you, books by Sarah Perry). I love stories, but books can be beautiful in their own right.
Book excitement as a catalyst for socialising
Books have also been a way for me to be social, especially over the last year. I was going to attend more author events, but they were all, understandably, cancelled due to lockdowns (including a Sarah J. Maas event, which was devestating at the time). Instead, I’ve been able to share the excitement of talking about the books I’ve ordered with friends and to share in their excitment when they have bought their own copies.
I haven’t read The Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson, but I have a couple of friends who have and were anticipating the next book in the series. When it became available to pre-order the signed copies, I began messaging them to encourage them to get it. It was a lot of fun and now they both have signed copies!
Books are wonderful, no matter the format or cover. They can comfort us when we’re lonely and connect us to other, real and living, people. At any time that’s beneficial, but, at this time, it’s a lifeline.