Signed books

AbeBooks offers millions of books signed by authors ranging from legendary writers like Charles Dickens and John Steinbeck to bestselling authors like David Sedaris and Chuck Palahniuk. We also have numerous autobiographies signed by politicians, movie stars, athletes and other notable figures. Our vast selection includes inscribed books, where the author provides a message as well as a signature, and books signed by the illustrator. Books are great but signed books are better.

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British author Ian McEwan is a generous signer. Hundreds of signed copies of his books are available. One of the great modern novelists, he won the Booker Prize in 1998 for Amsterdam, while Atonement and Enduring Love have been adapted into movies.

Ian McEwan's latest novel, Lessons, intertwines global history and everyday life.
John le Carré died in 2022, and left behind a remarkable literary legacy. His Cold War thrillers, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, are high-points in spy writing.

Having worked for the British security services, le Carré wrote from experience and enjoyed a worldwide following. He signed many books during a long and successful writing career.

More about signed books

An author's signature instantly transforms a mass-produced object into a treasure. Signing a book is the simplest form of marketing that an author can perform.

Getting a book signed-in person provides the opportunity to meet a favorite author and usually includes the chance to hear them read. Book signing events near you can be found in your local media or you can check author and publisher websites. Another great way to get your books signed is to attend literary festivals.

Signed Wrinkle in Time.jpg
A signed copy of A Wrinkle in Time

You can also buy signed books without meeting the author. Try rare bookshops and their catalogs, rare book fairs, and right here at AbeBooks. Generally speaking, signed first editions will usually be more expensive, while later editions signed by author are often more affordable. First editions and signed copies are the two cornerstones of book collecting.

Some authors tour regularly to promote their latest releases and will sign huge numbers of books - Salman Rushdie and Ken Follett are both prolific signers. Authors nominated for awards such as the Booker Prize or the National Book Awards will also often sign many copies in the period leading up to and immediately following the announcement of the winner.

When an author signs a large number of books, those copies can be very affordable - for instance, Margaret Atwood is a generous signer of books and prices begin at $15. Other authors tour much less after becoming successful, making their signed books more scarce, and therefore (sometimes) more valuable - for instance, Cormac McCarthy signs few books and prices for his signed copies start at around $500.

Obviously, the supply of signed copies comes to a halt - and their value often increases - with the death of an author.

Prices can also alter rapidly when an author is in the public eye. Prices for Barack Obama's memoir, Dreams from my Father, increased rapidly during his presidential campaign.

Sometimes the signature of a famous illustrator can be as important as that of the author. Quentin Blake has illustrated and signed many of Roald Dahl's books, as has Hunter S. Thompson's illustrator Ralph Steadman. An illustrated book signed by both the author and illustrator is especially prized.

Please note that booksellers don't use the term 'autograph' when describing a signed book. They may say 'flat signed' when there is just the author's signature. If the author has included a message to the recipient, such as 'Dear John, enjoy the book. All the best, Stephen King" then it's described as being inscribed.

You may encounter signed books with 'laid-in' signatures. This is when the author has signed something else, which is included along with the book but not attached to the book.

In recent decades, it's also become common for authors to sign bookplates, which are then attached to the book.

The ultimate author signature is when a famous writer has inscribed a book to another person of significance.

More about collecting signed books

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