eBay + Beware. Okay, I see now that that may've been a failed blog title. It worked really well in my head though.
Here's the deal, sometimes, when I'm looking for information on a specific book and can't find it in any of the usual places, I'll hop on eBay and do a quick search. To be clear, I've never really bought
a book on eBay because what I find, more often than not, are what I will henceforth call "wantful listings" (yeah, made up word, but it's much nicer than some of the other things that came to mind, so we're sticking with it).
A "wantful listing" is one that is misleading—in that it asks for an elevated price for a book whose first printings may be collectible, but the copy offered up is not. (This is where you get to choose your own adventure) Wantful listing copies are usually:
- Not a first printing, but presented as a first edition (slippery slope)
- Not a true first, but presented as such
- Possibly a first thus, but presented as an actual first edition
- A book club edition
- Battered beyond belief, bent corners, water stains, foxing, ripped covers, etc.
- Lacking dust jackets (with first issue points)
- Has a facsimile signature, but is presented as a "signed edition"
It's that last one that I came across this weekend.
I don't remember what I was searching for, but Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series popped up in the search. The listing was for a signed, slip-cased edition of (I think it was) Eclipse.
I've come across this before
. A couple of years ago I was in the used bookstore and came across this edition. The "slip case" to which they refer is cheap cardboard and the signature is actually a facsimile—printed on the page when the book was printed. It's not an actual signature. It's not even an autopen signature. It's a part of the book design.
This is what the facsimile signature looks like. Nice, tight, clean, no "flaws" in the signature at all. The lines are perfectly even with no ink-pooling or hesitation marks. In fact, if you compare the signature from one book to another, they'll be absolutely identical. (Not even autopen signatures are 100% identical from book to book.)
This was the copy I found at the used bookstore in 2014.
Here's another copy with the facsimile signature (found on eBay
this morning). Even the placement is identical.
Here is an actual Stephenie Meyer signature. Notice that it's loose (bigger) and sloppier, with pen / ink flaws and ink pooling where she changed the stroke direction or finished the signature.
The difference in value between the two?
A facsimile signature is a cute little novelty, but does not add to the value. The only value for the "collector's edition" is due to the fact that it was published as a "collector's edition." This is aimed primarily at fans of the series (not book collectors), who, if collecting, want to look for the "first thus" printing (with the number 1 in the number line).
High value, in fine condition (and this includes the slip-case), is probably about $40. I think the original price was in the range of $25-$30.
The collector's edition is neither "rare" nor "signed" so don't let sellers convince you of either of those points. Some of the misleading language I've come across in sellers' descriptions of this edition include:
"Signed by the author on the title page."
"Rare signed first collector's edition..."
"In a beautiful slip case..."
The closest appropriate description I found, states "SIGNED with red auto pen on the title page." But even that language is misleading, as it was not actually signed. Rather, it includes a facsimile of the author's signature (printed) on the title page.