Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Where to buy new books

Where can you buy signed first editions of new books? There are a number of options. The first (and probably the best) option is to make contact with a dealer. Introduce yourself and ask for help – they are likely to have a huge amount of knowledge and experience, and will be willing to answer any of your questions. You can trust a reputable dealer to supply signed first editions in pristine condition, usually in a protective cover to conserve the dustwrapper. Often these will be at cover price, or sometimes even cheaper, although some dealers may increase the price a little if they need to make a special journey to get a book signed. Most dealers issue lists of just published or forthcoming books, and usually this information is available on a web site. Ordering books pre-publication is the best way to guarantee a copy at cover price. After publication, prices may rise if copies are scarce.

What other options are available? You can check your local bookshop, although unless an author has paid a visit, signed copies are unlikely to be available. It is relatively common for authors to do signings in major bookshops in London or other UK cities, and sometimes these copies are available online. If ordering in this way, you will need to specify that only a first printing is acceptable. Staff in major bookchains often have little awareness of what constitutes a first edition, so you will need to check the book yourself – sometimes you may find a first printing in the middle of a pile of later editions. Often books in major chains have minor defects, as they are not handled or stored as carefully as they would be by a specialist dealer. In addition, they will not normally come in a protective cover.

The final common option nowadays for signed first editions of new books is ebay. Some real bargains can be obtained, but you need to check book descriptions carefully.

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