Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Let's Talk About Book signings

Okay, first of all, I haven't actually been to that many book signings. Last year I went to see some Christian authors and it was a relatively low key event where there was plenty of time to chat with the authors and get books signed. I also went to BEA where there were a million signings but they were very organized, and you could only really get one book signed.

This weekend I went to a signing which I will share more about later this week, but I realized something very important. You need to take a patience pill before you go! The author talk and reading were wonderful, but since this particular author has written 26 novels, there were people there with bags full of books to get signed.

I'm sure there's some etiquette to book signings, my personal conviction is that I should be buying at least one book. You know, as a way to say thank you to the bookstore and the author and so that real book tours (as opposed to blog tours) continue to happen.

Anyway, while it was lovely to chat with other bookish people, I had a hard time being patient because I had driven quite a long way to be there, and wanted to go home. But I put on my happy face and bought two books to get signed and it was all in all very lovely, even if I do think it's slightly tacky for other people to bring ex-library copies of books to get signed.

Am I just a big meanie? What do you do at book signings? Do you bring all your books by that author? Do you buy a book? Have you ever even been to a signing? What author would you go see if you had the chance? Or what's the best author event you've been to?



Lenore Appelhans said...

I've so been there Amy. I once vented on my blog about a signing I went to where we had to wait for 2 hours. It was worse because it was an author/illustrator who spent circa 2 minutes signing a book complete with illustration. And when someone pulled out a bunch of books...the line looked like it would riot.

I usually want to get more than one book signed because I think signed books will make great presents and even though the copy I get signed for myself might be from my shelf (but never an old library book...bleech!), I always try to buy some books beforehand unless I know that the venue is selling books. And I try to stick to a limit. No more than 3 certainly at a popular signing.

I've been to some signings where there were either quantity limits or "quality" limits. Tori Amos would only sign one thing for example. But she did spend a couple minutes with each person chatting, so that was nice. Another author was only signing copies of their latest book which wasn't out yet, so you had to buy a copy there.

Anonymous said...

I agree it's tacky not to purchase a book during a book signing - and then to a) bring ex-library copies and/or b) bring dozens of books...that's just plain rude.

In fact, I thought purchasing a book was a requirement when attending a book signing...but I suppose that depends on the store? I don't often frequent book signings, so I'm not sure of the "rules" - but common sense would dictate proper etiquette should be followed.

Of course, common sense isn't too common nowadays, huh?

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

There are usually limits to the number of books an author will sign. Obviously, in the past, someone has brought every book she owns for the author to sign.

I only rarely get books signed...generally a book for my school library. Too long a wait.

Anonymous said...

I tried to go to a book signing recently but it was so crowded I left.If the author signed a book for everyone there, the store would have had to stay open two hours late. Many people had books from home, but the store was requiring people to buy at least one book from them. I thought this was fair (and I planned to do it anyway) but many people were grumbling about it. The store ran out of books by the author, so they had to relax that rule.

Lenore Appelhans said...

That's why I usually bring at least one of my own books...I hate when they run out and you have nothing but a napkin to get signed...

Beth F said...

I just avoid them. I'm just not sure the wait in line is worth getting the signature!

Kara said...

I think that would be extremely rude to bring a bag of books - especially if they are ex-library books.

I agree that you should at least buy one book from the bookstore that is hosting the signing. I have never been to a signing - they don't come to Cincinnati too often - but would love to experience it once.

Lindsey said...

I've never been to a book signing - would love to with one of my favorite authors like Francine Rivers. I would love to get my Harry Potter books signed, too. ;-)

I would be embarrassed to bring an ex-library copy... LOL. Doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose? The whole point of getting a book signed (for me) would be to have a special copy I could gaze at rapturously. lol

Thanks for sharing! I don't think you're a big meanie. ;-)

Alea said...

Last summer I went to a David Sedaris signing and since i'm not sure that I had to be to others I planned to buy at least his latest book for him to sign when I got there. I ended up also buying another of his books that I didn't have to get signed as well. I did notice a good number of people bringing their own copies to be signed as well. I think personally unless the author only had one book and I already had it I'd probably buy something there. But how annoying would it be to get there and you couldn't buy anything to have signed if they were all gone.

I did get kind of bored and achy waiting, i think it would help to bring a friend so then you could chat more than with random strangers every once in awhile.

Ana S. said...

I've been to very few signings too, but I agree with you...it's courtesy to buy at least one book, and if you bring your own, don't make it more than two or three. I understand why people would want to get all their favourites signed, but bringing a bag full of books is kind of abusing the author's good will and the patience of the people waiting in line.

caite said...

Just goes to show lots of people can be rude.
As much as I am sure an author loves to see all their fans, it is ultimately about buying books. To bring a used ex-library book is just tacky.

kel said...

I think that is too lame!! They can at least buy a paperback! my goodness.. that's rude.

Deborah said...

i've been to one book signing and that was to see Christy Barritt. there wasn't a line, or much people in the bookstore, so i could to spend a lot of time talking to her and some of the other authors. i own both of her books and i brought one of them for her to sign.

i totally agree...bringing a library book is tacky, UNLESS that is the only copy you own and you have been dying to meet this author forever. i've debated the idea of bringing all your books for them to sign. realistically that's probably not going to happen considering most authors i own every single one of their books. i don't know necessarily that i would buy another copy, simply b/c i don't really have the funds to buy a duplicate. now if they had a new one that i didn't have yes, but if i own all of them already, then i'm not going to.

i would love to go to another signing but alas not many Christian fiction (or other authors I like) seems to have signings in Virginia at all! i know a bunch of them live up here, but i'm not stalking them at their door for an autograph lol

Anonymous said...

I have been to a LOT of book signings. At least more than a dozen the past few years. They are all run very differently. Some of have limits on what you can have signed and number of books, others have no limits. Some have long lines, some have none. For a bigger named author, I'd expect to wait at least an author.

I appreciate the authors who don't just push you aside to hurry up but take the time to talk while being aware that there is a line. The longest I ever waited was for Stephenie Meyer. By the time she started to when she finished was at least four hours. But nobody complained. She was a trooper and you could tell her wrist was killing her.

The few times I've met Shannon Hale, she's just adorable. I had my two kids with me and they were really tired. She called me up from the end of the line so I could get them home. Oh - I forgot - Stephenie Meyer signed books for everybody who had babies with them first. As a mother, this was very touching to me, even though mine weren't with me.

Authors are so different and so varied that I think book signings are the same way. Next month I'm going to Jodi Picoult and Laurie Halse Anderson. Can't wait!

Melanie said...

I enjoy book signings - either at a book store or at a library event. Since we live in the boonies I don't get to very many. I always buy a book to be signed and never bring a stack from home.

RAnn said...

I wouldn't go near a bookstore if I knew a book signing was taking place, unless I could see that the place wasn't jammed. I'd never stand in line to have a book signed. I also wouldn't stand in line to see any movie star or other celebrity. I have relationships with friends, family members, co-workers and others I see regularly. I don't have a relationship with any author, no matter how much I love his/her books--and won't form one during a book signing. If you are a friend of mine and have a relationship with an author I like, I'd love for you to introduce us, and maybe we could develop a relationship, but meeting someone famous, even in a small circle, for the sake of saying I have means nothing to me.

Anonymous said...

I have really mixed feelings about this, probably because I experience book signings both as an event planner and a fan, and usually not at the same time.

I think it's fantastic that there are authors who are generous enough with their time that they're willing to sign every book their fans bring in regardless of how long it might take, but I also think attendees should be considerate of the other people present and should wait until the people who are just getting one book (or a few) signed are finished before they approach the author with a giant shopping bag full and take up 10 minutes while others are waiting.

When I attend signings in other stores, I always buy at least one book from that location for the same reasons you describe above, and I wish our customers would do that as well. It drives me nuts when people come in with books they've bought at Costco, Target, Wal-Mart, or other bookstores for a signing in my store. When we have big authors in, their books are usually on sale at a very reasonable discount, and since the events are free, it would be nice if they would support our store (and our ability to continue bringing authors in) by making purchases.

On the other hand, if it comes down to buying the book at another store in order to attend our signing or not buying it at all, I suppose I can live with people buying books elsewhere because the ultimate goal for me is to keep people reading.

S. Krishna said...

1) I think bringing ex-library books is definitely tacky.

2) I think there should be a 2 or 3 book limit, maybe even 1 if the line is really long.

Anonymous said...

Ha, ha! So I've just read the comments. I have in fact, brought books from home to be signed. I don't think there is anything wrong with that. And the occasional, secondhand bookshop copy. (Hey, it's my book.) In fact, I had Stephenie Meyer sign an actual library book which I then returned to the branch inscribed to them. She thought it was hilarious! Yes, I think you should buy a book at the bookstore as well. Especially, if you don't have the newest release that they are promoting.

And I don't meet the author just to say that I did. I genuinely enjoy meeting them. Authors often say their greatest satisfaction is from meeting their fans. I'd hate for them to not know that I enjoyed their book enough for me to come out for a reading.

Again, I think book signings are so varied in their format that it's hard to judge them in a whole lump sum.

Jenny Girl said...

You are not being ridculous. Yes, you should buy the book, and maybe bring one from home if you like. Not how ever many you have :) Be considerate of others, which most people today sadly are not.

Suey said...

When we went to see Orson Scott Card, I stressed about what books to bring and how many. I have I would guess 10 to 15 of his books. But in the end, we just brought one per person, and three of us went.

Most of the time, I do buy a book, for exactly the reasons you mentioned. Besides, most of the signings I've gone to are local authors and I love to support them by buying.

I have waited HOURS for authors to sign. Brandon Mull and Stephenie Meyer were both nearly three hours! Wow, talk about a test of patience!

Anyway for the most part, I think they are very fun, but they always make me hate my shyness, because every time, I get nervous, which is really stupid.

Anonymous said...

I've only been to one book signing (and it was an author reading first) but it was held at the library, so I bought and brought a copy of her book.

However, if I was meeting an author with a lot of books that was very popular, I might bring the 3 latest books, or a couple of my favourites.

Serena said...

Most of the signings I've been too have book limits...usually no more than 3 per person. I would never bring old library books for signing. That's just ludicrous!

For James Patterson, whom I've seen many times, I bring 2 older books from my and mom's collection and buy the new one for him to sign to my mom. He's very chatty, though he will limit discussions to about 2 minutes...and he'll even let you get a picture with him.

Other authors are there to sign and be done with it. I always buy the latest book at the store before the signing; it's a courtesy.

Anonymous said...

Wow, good discussion. As an author who will be having booksignings next spring, you guys have given me a lot to think about. I would hope people would buy a copy of a book to support the bookstore hosting the reading/signing, if they attended and enjoyed it, but I would never be offended if they didn't buy my book. Most of the authors I've spoken to (and I wrote a free-lance newspaper piece a while back in which I interviewed Jodi Picolt and many others) said that the biggest problem early on was that NO ONE showed up at their signings. This, of course, before they became bestsellers. Ayelet Waldman (wife of Michael Chabon) told me that her book came out on the same day as a Harry Potter book, and she spent the entire time directing people to those books. Talk about depressing... but she laughed about it. Jennifer Weiner said that she was doing a booksigning at Border's and no one showed up, and finally a woman approached her... to ask for a token for the bathroom! So, that to me would be worse than having a bunch of people in line. It must be hard for really popular authors to balance the fact that people have made an effort to come see them, and therefore deserve not to be hurried a long, but also to respect the feelings of those waiting at the end of a long line. I have no idea how they do it. I guess I'd bring a stash of chocolate and pass it down the line so that people would at least have some sustenance!

Toni said...

Great Post Amy!! I like to buy the book. For me a book is the best souvenir for any occasion. If I had my own copy... I'd surely bring it... I would be oh so disappointed if the store ran out of copies. Recently an author offered signed book plates to my book club to put in our books.. I thought that was soooo cool... so I think I am going to buy the book to put it in instead of my ARC. I think I might have a stash to get signed but I am the type of person... if there was a long line.. I wouldn't sit and try to get a bag signed. It just would seem so wrong.

FatalisFortuna said...

I've never been able to go to a book signing, although I would dearly love to. There is NEVER an author I like coming to my state! If there was I would be there in a minute, buying one or two books to get signed. But no. It's your loss, bookstores. There are dozens of books I WOULD'VE bought, but you missed your chance...

Anonymous said...

First, for me, it's much more about the event itself - hearing the author read his/her work, talking about the process, answering questions.

Having said that, yes, I will wait in line to have a book signed at an event (I don't think I'd go *just* for a signing). I bring a book if I have it, if not, I'll buy one there. Recently I saw Geraldine Brooks and bought (and asked her to sign) *March*. I brought 2 copies of *People of the Book* (one I had read, a second copy for a soon-to-be-announced giveaway!!). I did wait and get toward the back of the line, so I had time to take the requisite picture :) It sounds like I was close to "the limit" on books, but there were no limits imposed by the store (that I know of).

While we're at it ... if I have the choice of buying hardcover or paperback to be signed, I upgrade to the hardcover, figuring this is a book that will stay on the shelves at home (not be passed along)

Amy said...

Lenore..actually I had this author draw for me! But only in one book! I apologized afterwards, saying, now everyone will ask you!

Bibliolatrist..I thought it was sort of an unspoken rule as well, until I saw the huge bags stuffed with books!

debnance...I like signed books for gifts as well and I think it's awesome to get it signed for your school library!

bermudaonion...that's so funny that they ran out of books! Must have been a big name author!

Lenore...a napkin signed ha!

Beth...This was the first time I thought the line was long. (not really the line, but the wait) AT BEA some lines are long as well, the longest one I waited for was Debbie Macomber.

Kara..I hope you get a chance to go to a signing sometime!

Lindsey...well yes, my Harry Potter books being signed would be a dream come true!

Alea...bored and achy is a good way to put it, lol! I imagine David Sedaris had a huge line!

Nymeth...agreed. :)

Caite..yeah I think the purpose is to sell books! ;)

Kel...exactly! At this signing there were several mass market paperbacks available.

Deborah..I just like to support authors, so even if I have the book, I'll buy it again. :)

Alea said...

Oh my gosh, there were multiple lines, luckily we were in a indoor mall so there was room in the hall to spread the lines out!

Amy said...

Natasha....I can imagine Stephenie Meyer's signings were huge!!! I think I thought about going to see her once and you had to have tickets. I think Jodi Picoult's will be huge, too.

Melanie..I really enjoy them as well.

RAnn...I like getting the opportunity to meet people whom I've allowed into my life by spending some time in their book. I enjoy learning more about the book from them and having a tangible reminder of the experience!

Rebecca...I want people to read, too, but I just think it's polite to recognize what the store is doing by buying a book. Thanks for the insider's perspective!

Natasha...I think getting a library book signed is great!

Jenny Girl...I think it's okay to bring one from home, too, just not 25

Suey...I get nervous, too! And tongue tied!

Monica...right I think it's okay to bring one or two, but I felt very disheartened by the overflowing bags!

Serena...that's so cool! I love to hear about the nice ones!

Sarah...I've seen authors trying to drum up enthusiasm in their books as well. I always feel bad for them. I think chocolate is a great idea!

Toni...thanks for being honest! :) I love books as souvenirs, too!

FatalisFortuna..I hope you get some authors to come to you soon!

Dawn..I love the reading and background info on the book as well. I really appreciated it this time, too, I think it gave me more context for the book.

Tif Sweeney said...

Ooooohhhhh, very good topic!!! I've shared my thoughts over at my blog. Feel free to check it out . . . http://tiftalksbooks.blogspot.com/2009/02/book-signings.html

Anonymous said...

I've been to one book signing before, and I bought the book at the store. Unless the author/bookstore specifically says it's okay, I do think it's a little tacky to bring more than, say, two books to get signed. Slows things down. :D

I was SO NERVOUS, waiting in line to talk to one of my favorite authors, but luckily I didn't have to wait that long and the author-- David Sedaris- was perfectly lovely and even personalized my autograph a bit. It was a lot of fun!

I wouldn't mind standing a long time in a line if it was an author I really, really wanted to meet. The time spent would be worth it, I think.

Also, just an aside, I read somewhere that some authors like it when people bring their crappy, beat-up copies to get signed because it shows that they've read the book and really liked it, etc. :D Which is why if I ever get to a Neil Gaiman signing I'm bringing my own books with me, and wouldn't buy any new copies there.

Although I suppose I'd feel awkward if I brought an old book to a signing that was to promote the new book. Hm.

Jennie said...

Hmmmm... I have brought my own books before, but just because they were favorite authors and I already owned all of their books. I still bought something from the bookstore, it just had nothing to do with author event that was going on!

I've been to some signings where there were definite rules (must be purchased there, only one book, if you want it personalized, fill out this form first, have book turned to title page... etc) I've brought multiple books to signings, but if it's really busy and the line is long, then I limit myself to one. If it's not busy and there are only a few people there, then I'll get more signed (and yes, I have had one signed and then went to the back of the line so that people didn't have to wait on me.)

My favorite was when I went to see Judy Blume. My copy of "Are you there God..." is OLD (it was a present when I turned 10) and she was thrilled that I still had it. She also loved reading the note that was already inscribed (because it was a gift) and then signed the next page.

Wendi said...

What a wonderful post Amy! I've actually only been to one signing - for Jane Porter's books not too long ago at a local Barnes & Noble. I'm glad I called ahead (it snowed) because they don't normally allow people to bring their own books. I explained that the publisher had sent me the books to review, and the manager let me bring them in. I have four of her books, but chose two of my favorites. I LOVED meeting her and getting the books signed. If I end up at another of her signings - I'll get the others signed as well.

As for ex-library, hmmm - I wouldn't do it myself, and it does seem pretty sad not to have a nicer copy, even in today's economy.

:) Wendi

Kathy W said...

This is an interesting post. I've been to several book signings. If its an author I really enjoy I have been known to bring 2 or 3 books to be signed (this includes thier newest book). If its a big name author they will usually say they will only sign the book and not personalize it. I have been behind people who have had several (10 or more books) and it does take longer but it usually doesn't bother me to much.

Anonymous said...

It's not really necessary to go to a book signing if all you want is the author's signature--rather than to chat with him/her. I'm promoting a program for authors to create adhesive-backed bookplates for their books and to mail them free with a dedication and the author's signature.
This makes it possible to give signed copies of a book as a gift, with a dedication and the author's signature.
To see how it works check out: www.booksigningonline.blogspot.com.

Jack McLaughlin

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