"... While visiting his parents, a writer finds a copy of one of his books in the local second-hand bookshop. Amazingly, he finds he has already signed and inscribed it.
'To mum and dad,' the inscription reads. But even though not everyone might treasure a signed book, enough people do to make it big business for both dealers and collectors alike.
'It's about the author touching the book,' says Pom Harrington, a book dealer and collector of inscribed Roald Dahl books. 'It's knowing they have held it in their hands, that they have blessed it.'
There are four categories of signed book according to Mr Harrington, owner of Peter Harrington books in central London.
First, there is simply the author's autograph.
Then there is the inscribed, which is the signature and a 'best wishes'-style generic message. This is more valuable as it has more of the author's own handwriting, which is not only more desirable for the collector, but also means there is more to compare when verifying authenticity.
'Cormac McCarthy for example has quite a scrawled signature so having the message as well means you can be more reliably certain it is his,' Mr Harrington says.
A short history of signed books
Signed books are a relatively recent phenomenon.
It was not until the end of the 18th Century that authors started to sign their work, but even then inscriptions were more commonly written by secretaries rather than writers themselves.
For example, there are no signed copies of Jane Austen's books but there are 13 presentation copies of Emma, which are highly cherished (while a first edition of Pride and Prejudice can be bought for about £65,000) .... "
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