As a bibliophile, I’m constantly asked why I don’t borrow from the library or friends like a reasonable person. With books, and especially new releases, costing a pretty penny, the question is valid.
But I don’t think of myself as merely a reader—I’m also a (thoroughly amateur) book collector. I cherish the experience of walking into my local bookstore, getting a recommendation from the friendly staff, and treating myself to a new book. However, it’s tricky to keep track of every new release and to be honest, I love a solid value-add like an author’s signature, especially if I’m paying list price for a book.
Enter the signed first editions book club, a subscription service offered by local bookstores across the country. The bookstores partner with authors on new releases and send out a signed first edition to patrons 6–12 times a year. They differ from book subscriptions in that you receive a signed first edition on the day of its release from a local bookstore rather than a box.
Why Collect First Editions
First editions are the original printings of a book and are highly sought after for being the closest representation of a writer’s original intent. Subsequent editions undergo additional proofreading, so first editions with mistakes (oddly) tend to be valuable. And a signed first edition, especially for a sought-after book, increases in value over time.
For any book collector, a signed first edition is the gold standard. It can be an heirloom passed down for generations, giving your home library a piece of literary history.
Now of course, it’s not an exact science on whether a new book will be valuable. Motivated collectors are great at finding hot debuts and obtaining author signatures. However, for the rest of us, who’d like the research to be done already, signed first editions clubs curated by local bookstores are great.
Most local bookstores either have committees or highly knowledgable buyers who screen hundreds of books for literary merit and estimated collectability.
If you’re looking to support a local bookstore, diversify your reading, and/or add something special to your library, check out these signed first editions book clubs from across the country.
Signed First Editions Book Clubs By Region
A note on price: In general, the list price for a newly released hardcover can range anywhere from $25–35 (plus tax). The signatures for all the listed signed first editions book clubs are free. However, not all the bookstores specified a sales tax or online processing fee. I have included a note if they were mentioned, but please confirm all charges with each bookstore because taxes, processing fees, and shipping/handling vary.
New York, New York
Price: Varies from $37.50–55.00 (for a recurring subscription) depending on the type of subscription (Fiction, Young Adult, Art/Photography, Feminist Literature, Political Nonfiction, Mystery & Suspense, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Little Readers, or Timeless Favorites)
Previous selections: Speak No Evil, The Guinevere Deception, The Witches Are Coming
Lynden, Washington, and Bellingham, Washington
Price: $1.00 enrollment fee plus list price and tax (free shipping for U.S. residents)
Previous selections: There There, Gateway to the Moon, Station Eleven