A signed book can be worth a lot of money. We’re address a common question comes up when discussing signed copies: Is it better to get an author’s flat signature or a personalized signature? A flat signature is the author’s signature and/or an impersonal message like “Best of luck to you” or “To a dear fan.” Flat signatures are popular because their impersonal message makes them transferrable between owners.

Flat Signatures v. Personalized Signatures

The problem with flat signatures is that they are harder to authenticate. It’s easier to forge a signature than an author’s normal handwriting. The longer and more personal the author’s inscription, the easier the authentication of the signature. A personalized signature like “To Melissa” is popular for people who collect signatures or wish to give the book to a friend. It’s a good idea to ask the author to write the date next to their signature. Dates make signatures more easily verifiable and give the book more worth if the copy is a first or early edition.

ASSOCIATION COPY: An author’s personal, annotated copy. Perhaps it belonged to someone connected to the author or to someone associated with its contents.

DEDICATION COPY (sometimes called “THE COPY”): A copy of a book inscribed by the author and personally presented to the dedicatee mentioned in the book.

PRESENTATION COPY: A copy of a book given by the author as a gift to the recipient. Therefore, the author does not sign at the request of the recipient. It’s an inscribed copy and the date falls near the time of the original publication.

INSCRIBED SENTIMENT: A copy of a book without a personalized inscription. It contains drawings or short poems, but it does not contain names or references of personal nature.

Flat signature copies may have better resale value within an author’s lifetime, but a personalized copy is easier to authenticate. Most BookScouter vendors don’t accept signed copies, but AbeBooks and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers will help. Are you concerned about the authenticity of a buyer or seller? We suggest you look for the nearest licensed antiquarian dealer on this site.