Why get authors and illustrators to sign books?
I contemplated this question whilst standing in a long-ish queue to get books signed by Helen Oxenbury and John Burningham.
A modern book is, by its nature, a mass produced object. The author/illustrator may put hours of work into the writing and artwork, but we consumers don't get to see that personal effort. We can't experience those hours, or touch the artwork. Instead, we hold bundles of pages that were printed and bound in a factory (probably in China).
So, we get to buy a piece of the author/illustrator's creative psyche, but there isn't a physical connection to the person. We can't see, hear or touch them: they don't perform on stages like musicians.
All we really want is an emotional connection to the creative people we admire. Getting a book signed is that connection. A moment of conversation. Eye contact. Their handwriting is physical evidence that they transformed the book from a mass-produced object into a unique work of art.
I like to take it one step further when I sign, and actually sign my books with the original pen I used to draw the illustrations. This takes the experience full circle: from my studio, to the factory, and back to my studio again (so to speak).
I'm certainly guilty of standing in long queues to get books signed. As a result I've met some fantastic authors and illustrators. Above is my London collection of signed books. You can see: Helen Oxenbury, John Burningham, Roz Streeten, Philip Pullman, Lea Stirling, John Lowden, Freya Blackwood, Sarah McIntyre, Audrey Niffenegger, Chris Ware.
There are more, oh yes, I've met so many more authors and illustrators. But, I didn't always have a book on hand for them to sign. And, there are so many more whom I'd like to meet.
Do you have any signed books?