I really enjoy reading books, and I have recently started enjoying them on another level. There are a couple bookstores near my house that regularly feature book signings. Not only can these book signings be very interesting and entertaining, they are almost always free!
Authors from every style of writing go on book tours. They are a great way for the author to reach out to fans, introduce their work to new people, and and get great publicity. It’s also a chance for them to sell a lot of books! From an audience member’s point of view, book signings are an interesting way to learn more about the author, the writing process, hear great stories, or get a nice souvenir or gift.
Something for everyone: You don’t like/want autographs? Go for the entertainment value! Authors come from many different backgrounds and write in every genre. Some authors who go on book tours are famous athletes or coaches, business leaders, politicians, doctors, chefs, teachers, artists, self-help gurus, finance or real estate professionals, novelists, military professionals, journalists, children’s authors, and just about any other profession you can think of. In short, there should be something for just about everybody!
You don’t have to get anything signed: The entertainment value comes from the stories, anecdotes, jokes, and author Q&A. You can learn a lot about why authors write about certain events or what makes a certain character so appealing to readers. Some authors have lead very interesting lives and their stories are well worth listening to.
To get autographs: The bookstores always carry a great selection of the author’s books. You can bring your own, or buy them there. If there is an author I enjoy reading and want an autograph from, I usually go to a used bookstore and buy a couple hardcover copies of their older books to get signed. It is customary to support the author and bookstore hosting the book signing, so I always buy the new release there. Many authors are great about signing several copies of books, and some of them will even personalize them.
Some advice for those who want to attend a book signing:
- Call the bookstore: Find out what the process is so you know what to expect. It is much better to be prepared than to miss out!
- Get there early: Good seats go quickly! 15-20 minutes is fine for some authors, but for the more popular authors, I recommend at least half an hour or more. If in doubt, call the store!
- Make sure to get a line number: Do this as soon as you arrive. Some stores start giving them out the morning of the signing, some wait until about an hour or so beforehand. The earlier you get there, the lower the number, and the less time you have to wait to get a signature.
- Common courtesies: Just to sit in on the author requires nothing but your attention. If you want a book signed, it is customary to support the bookstore and the author by purchasing the newest release there. You can often bring in your own copies of the older books to get signed, but if you do, you should still buy the new one. One more thing, always thank the author! They are taking time out to meet with you and it is the right thing to do.
- Getting books signed for gifts: Signed books make great gifts or personal keepsakes. Many authors will even personalize the book for you or whomever you intend to give it to.
- Getting books signed as an investment: While signed books do have some value, I do not recommend getting them signed as an investment. I recommend getting them because you want it for yourself or to give as a gift. If you must get a book signed for its investment value, I recommend doing your research to learn about the market.
If you enjoy reading, I recommend going to a book signing. It is a very entertaining and inexpensive way to spend an evening.
Note: Most book signings are free, but not all. Some stores may require that you pre-purchase books for the most popular authors, especially for athletes and politicians. This should guarantee your seat. If in doubt, call the store first.