I have long known that there is a market out there for signed (but not dedicated!) first editions of my novels. Indeed, there are dealers who rush to buy the hardbacks as they come out and for whom I am more than happy to sign and write onto each title page a unique to them special line, such as "Meet Simon Fonthill," or "Charge the Guns."
On those rare occasions when I am suffering from Writer's Block (I am lucky that these really are rare moments - more than compensated, however, by my ever-present bad back and creaky knees), I go on-line and browse through Abebooks, the second hand book site, to see what my first editions are fetching on the market on that day.
At the moment, for instance, I see that PM Books, of St Clair Shores, MI, USA, is offering a signed first edition of my first novel "The Horns of the Buffalo" for £856.87. For an incomplete collection of my works, James N.Beal, of Toronto, Canada, is asking £951.87. This is all as thrilling, of course, as vicarious sex, in that I don't get a penny from these sales.
I am not, however, complaining about the existence of this strange and rather parasitic under-market. It is, after all, grist to the mill and hopefully does extend one's readership. But it has set me thinking about the new wave of electronic books and the lively debate about whether the Kindles will eventually lead to the demise of books as we know them.
I am left with one conclusion. These handy little readers must surely bring about the end of the signed, first edition trade. How can you sign a Kindle?