Authors share insights into their book-signing phrases

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for book buying. With the holidays shimmering as brightly as Orion’s Belt, local booksellers have stuffed their shelves and ordered extra servings of book-signings to help you cross those names off the gift list.

These are heady times for booksellers. This week last year, 27.3 million print books were sold nationwide, according to Publishers Weekly. And with good reason: Books are enduring, thoughtful gifts, matched specifically to recipients’ interests.

Add a personalized message, and you have a one-of-a-kind present.

Serious book collectors will tell you that the value of a hardcover first edition by the next Amy Tan or Ray Bradbury is greatly increased by the signature of the author but decreased by a personal inscription. It seems collectors don’t prefer a copy signed to Aunt Millie.

Bah humbug.

Most people appreciate the effort someone put into attending a book-signing and spelling out their name to the author. It is that extra effort that stands out in a world of online quickie shopping.

Here’s a suggestion: Because there are always last-minute gifts needed for party hosts, extra guests and work present exchanges, hedge your bet by getting one book personally inscribed and one just autographed.

You might even want to keep it for yourself.

In this busiest of book-signing times, I asked a few local authors how they approach book-signings. Even without an inscription request, they all chose a signature phrase before their autograph that connects the content of the book to the reader.

John Foster, paleontologist for Dinosaur Journey and author of “Jurassic West: The Dinosaurs of the Morrison Formation and Their World,” said the biggest thing he struggled with at early book-signings was what to write that would be on-point, but not hokey.

“My old adviser at CU, who wrote a book about dinosaur tracks, signed “Keep on trackin.’ ” Foster said.

“I did finally decide on ‘Enjoy your trip to the Mesozoic.’”

Foster made a more-challenging choice than the non-scientist authors out there.

“You only get one chance,” Foster said of the permanence of ink. “I’m always paranoid I’m going to misspell Mesozoic.”

Dave Buchanan, Daily Sentinel outdoors writer and wine columnist, and author of “Drink It In: Wine Guide of Western Colorado,” said he wanted a signature phrase that wasn’t flippant, but was appropriate to the shared joviality of wine drinking.

He settled on “Cheers.”

“It’s a very friendly greeting — it’s a friendly, welcoming reaching out, and also it is a really proper thing to do, to say cheers, whether it is with a glass of wine or seeing someone off on a trip around the world,” Buchanan said.

David Bailey, curator of history at the Museum of Western Colorado and author of “Distant Treasures in the Mist: A Western Colorado Adventure,” said he signs “to great adventures.”

“I think it’s just like the idea you can get in your car and head out and declare, ‘I’m going to have an adventure today.’ I just like that feeling.”

To get books signed by these and other local authors, watch these pages over the next weeks for book-signings and a chance to meet the authors and request that personal inscription.

You will make your Aunt Millie’s day.

Because a late Thanksgiving has trimmed a week off the typical shopping season, book-sellers have redoubled their efforts, getting a jump on the famed Black Friday events.

Barnes & Noble Booksellers, for instance, is featuring its first Discovery Friday this Friday.

Laura Mettauer, community relations manager for the Grand Junction Barnes & Noble store, 2451 Patterson Road, said the all-day event will feature giveaways, storytimes, a “Duck Dynasty” photo station, discounts on Nooks and a chance to win a $1,000 Barnes & Noble shopping spree.

And, of course, book-signings.

The day is “designed for customers who enjoy the art of discovery — recognizing that the best gift suggestions don’t come from an algorithm — and who appreciate the human touch,” Mettauer said. “Our booksellers will be on the front lines to provide personalized recommendations and gift advice.”

Go for the full schedule of events.


Have news about local authors, bookstores, book clubs or writing groups? Email Laurena Mayne Davis at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Davis is the director of marketing and product development for The Daily Sentinel.


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