Black Friday for me isn't an awesome day. I have retail flashbacks, the horror of which you can only comprehend if you have worked retail, on Black Friday. (Fun fact, my first day of work, ever, was a Black Friday at Best Buy. Someone tell me why THAT was a good idea...) This year, about three days before Thanksgiving, I found out that best selling author Chuck Palahniuk was going to be at my local Barnes and Noble. Don't know who that is? I'd tell you about fight club, if I wasn't supposed to talk about it. If that still doesn't ring a bell, he also wrote Choke, Survivor, Invisible Monsters, and Guts (a short storywhich has, at last report, caused some 60+ people to faint when hearing it read aloud.) For the first time, ever, I decided to go out on Black Friday morning to stand in a line.
I've had the privilege to meet several of my favorite authors in person. Terry Brooks, Brandon Sanderson, and now Chuck Palahniuk. The bizarre thing about this meeting though (other than the Black Friday thing) was that it was actually here in my city. Usually I have to drive to find an author. I actually drove 4 hours and paid for a hotel to see Brandon Sanderson for the release for the final Wheel of Time book, a Memory of Light. But I digress.
The line at Barnes and Noble was actually shorter than I expected, believe it or not. The thing about the signing though, was that Chuck took his time with people. I'm a little embarrassed to say that I brought most (not all) of his books that I own. I expected to be told that he was signing his new book, Beautiful You, and a couple of older ones. Nope, he signed them all.
Even more cool, he actually personalized EVERY one of the books. So, I don't just have a hastily scribbled signature to show for my time, I have beautifully signed, to Mike, cover pages for Fight Club, Invisible Monsters, Diary, Choke, Haunted, Survivor, and Beautiful You.
As if this weren't enough, I also got some really cool photos of me in a headlock.
I love e-books as much as anyone. In fact, I almost have to read e-books as my wife often goes to sleep before I do and reading with a light on keeps her awake. Black screen, white text e-book? Not so much. I can use Overdrive (which, if you don't use Overdrive, I HIGHLY recommend) to check out books from my Library for free. Usually, I read (or listen to) the first couple of books in a series to see if I like them, then I buy the rest. There's a real problem though...
I can't stand in line for an author to sign my awesome e-book!
If you've never gone to a book signing before, I would urge you to consider it. David Edding and Robert Jordan are two of my most favorite authors. They are men I highly respect, and I always recommend their books to people new to the fantasy genre, or people looking to find new and exciting things to read. They are authors that I found early in life, some of the very first I read as a child in fact as I moved into the adult section of the bookstore. Unfortunately, both of these great authors are now dead, and I never went to a signing. I'll never have a chance to meet them, or hear them read their own work, or shake their hand.
Maybe this isn't a big deal for you (it is for me) but even if it's not, you should think about going out and meeting an author. There are many many worse things you can do with a couple hours of your time, and I promise you that sitting in a room full of people that are as passionate about an author's books as you are is a rewarding experience. Even if some of them are, perhaps, a bit more enthusiastic as you are. (Yes, I have seem some swords and very strange tattoos, but I've also met a lot of people that are super excited to meet their favorite author.) That's pretty cool.
Typically a signing is free. Typically you should plan to spend at least a couple of hours there, and all of the ones I've been to reward you for getting there early. Sometimes you can take pictures with the author, sometimes you can't. Sometimes they will personalize your book, sometimes they will sign multiple books. I find it to be good etiquette to buy the book they are touring for, as opposed to just showing up and asking them to sign old work and take pictures.