I would be interested to know what members thought about buying first edition books.  Some of the less recent ones look in very poor condition yet the estimates remain very high

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I will buy a signed first edition without hesitation. I have purchased a number of them. Unsigned does not interest me personally.

Book collecting is a whole different animal than autographs and you really need to know what you are doing.  "First edition" is kind of a blanket term used as there are usually various "states" of a first as well as "advanced reading copies" , "book club editions", "trade editions" etc. etc..

Here's a good and brief primer on collecting in the area of first editions:


I have a few signed books.  I know that some autograph dealer don't work with signed books as they often consider that a whole different specialty and area. Often the kind of book itself that is signed often determines value coupled with the signature.

As a generic question this does not really make much sense. Many if not most books may only be issued in one edition. Subsequent editions only come into play if the book becomes popular and/or if it was written by a popular author. 

If you are talking about buying signed first editions, if it is a popular book or author then it might make a big difference as the crossover appeal to book collectors would be greatly enhanced. 

I have collected dozens (hundreds?) of autographed books by sending books to their authors, and in only one case did I bother to track down a first edition. For Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman" I used a first edition but for all others I used whatever was available, although if I had a choice at the bookstore between a first edition or a later one,  I would of course pick the first edition. 

There are only a few cases (Joseph Heller "Catch-22", and my Stephen King books, for example) where I might have sought out first editions to send if I could do it over again.

One of my sub-hobbies is collecting signed books.  Many are first editions/impressions, but not all.  Some are new, expensive deluxe editions, but most I’ve bought for very little at U.K. charity shops.  You’d be amazed at the number of signed books that make it onto the shelves without being spotted, or specially priced, by store staff. Obviously, the selection is pretty random, but I enjoy the jeopardy of not knowing what I’m going to find.

Some of my favourite charity shop finds:

Mark E. Smith — Renegade, first edition hardback, £3.50.  A beautiful, rare example from this famously irascible musician.

Sir Edmund Hillary — View from the Summit, first edition hardback, £1.00.

David Attenborough — Life in the Undergrowth, first edition, £1.00.

John le Carré — A Delicate Truth, first edition hardback, £1.99.

Kazuo Ishiguro — The Unconsoled, first edition hardback, 60p.

Anne Tyler — A Spool of Blue Thread, first edition hardback, 99p.  A rare signed edition from this elusive Pulitzer Prize winner.

Philip Pullman — The Amber Spyglass, first edition hardback, £2.50.

Kevin Smith — Tough Sh*t, first edition hardback, £1.50.

John Cleese — So, Anyway…, first edition hardback, £1.49.

Donovan Leitch — The Hurdy Gurdy Man, first edition hardback, £1.00.  Dedicated to someone with the same first name as me!

Ethan Hawke — Ash Wednesday, first edition hardback, £1.25.

I could go on and on.  Several Inspector Morse novels by Colin Dexter, two novels by Scott Turow, a couple by PD James, loads of U.K. sports stars, football managers (including all four books by Sir Alex Ferguson), etc.

You have some great finds there.

Thanks, Steve.

My girlfriend and I are hardcore charity shoppers.  On a good day, we’ve been known to do as many as 30.  I look mainly for Blu-rays and books, she specialises in jewellery, glassware, etc.  You wouldn’t believe the amazing jewellery we’ve found over the years, but that’s beyond the remit of this forum.

Forgot to mention:

Sting — Broken Music, first edition hardback, £1.00.  I’m not really a fan, but it’s still a good find.

Favorite signed first:. Politics aside, at an event I asked personally and was able to have Joe Biden sign and inscribe to me personally his last book a couple of years ago (pre-presidency).

It's a treasure for me..

Nice one.

I always check politicians’ autobiographies when I’m doing the charity shops.  I rarely find signed copies, but I do have one from former U.K. Prime Minister John Major.  Think I paid £1.00 for that one, IIRC.  Some would say that’s about what it’s worth ….

not if Edwina Currie signed it as well!!

Funny you should mention Edwina … I also own a signed copy of her Diaries 1987-1992.  Sometimes, it’s fun to put together signed editions that complement each other.  Ricky Tomlinson and Sue Johnston, for example.

Anyway, when I opened the Edwina volume, this was stuffed inside:

I actually wrote that originally as a joke but if you stuck Edwina's sig next to J M's in his autobiography   I reckon that would fetch a lot more than £1


I have never come across an example such as this, where an associated person, who is not a co-author, has signed next to the author themselves.  I suppose it’s possible, but it would be extremely rare, and potentially quite collectible.

John Major’s signature is as small and scratchy as one might expect, so there’s certainly plenty of room:



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