It will surprise no one that the most expensive signed copy of a first edition was The Tales of Beedle the Bard, hand written by J.K. Rowling in 2007. One of only seven copies, it sold for £1.95 million at auction. Some other all-time signature greats are an F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby signed first edition which sold for $191,000 in 2015; an Ernest Hemingway For Whom the Bell Tolls whose signed first edition sold for $310,400 in 2004; a tiny signed Charlotte Bronte poem written when she was 13 sold for £92,450 in 2013, and a first edition of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities which was signed and dedicated to Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot) and sold for £275,000. Spotting a rising star and getting their signature early can be a serious business and will certainly increase the value of a physical book. But looking at the last ten years of publishing, this is just one of the ways our physical books can be made more beautiful and precious, bucking the trend of eBooks, and above all, making the independent bookshop the choice destination for book lovers.

Author’s signatures

Having an author’s signature is one certain way to make a book more attractive, either to keep yourself or as a gift. At Booka, we have a few ways you can get your hands on an author’s signed copy. For new book releases (for example the recent highly anticipated Margaret Atwood The Testaments), we are sent a number of copies signed at the publisher, because of our independent status. Getting hold of these copies is a first come first served situation, but is a really exciting way to claim possession of signatures from the very best. These will have a ‘signed by the author’ paper strip on the front for easy identification. We also have a section on our website specially dedicated to signed copies. Take a look here, you may find an unexpected treasure.

For even more excitement, come along to one of our author events! Not only will you be able to meet the writer yourself, but they will often personalise the dedication for you, making the book a real keepsake. As always, if you can’t make it to an event, because it was sold out (like our Rick Stein and Eddie Jones events this month), you can usually order a signed copy from our website. We have also started a trend in getting visiting children’s illustrators to sign our upstairs wall, often with a lovely little picture too. Take a look at our ‘Illustrators Wall’ the next time you are in the store. We are so lucky to have such a wealth of talent come to Booka and we are already working hard to make our 2020 author line up as exciting as ever.

Unique Art

Adult fiction doesn’t usually have artwork, so the additional prints increasing seen in publications over the last few years have been really exciting. Again, this is a beautiful extra seen in copies sold primarily in independent shops, so customers are being rewarded for their loyalty with exclusive and limited content. A wonderful recent example was the Chris Wormell print of Lyra and Pantalaimon in the page opposite the cover page of The Secret Commonwealth, the second book in The Book of Dust trilogy by Philip Pullman. Even among the publishing blockbusters, art is still bringing in loyal readership, as seen in the strong sales of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Illustrated Edition (J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay). The beauty of the dustjackets this last decade have been of the biggest and most satisfying trends, so why not make the inside a little more beautiful too with some limited artwork?


Can’t wait for a new release or the next book in the series? It is becoming increasingly common to see ‘pre-content’, or in other words, mini-publications designed to whet your appetite between awareness of a book and your purchase. Take the long awaited and highly anticipated conclusion to Hilary Mantel’s Cromwell series (Wolf Hall (2009) and Bring up the Bodies (2012)), The Mirror and the Light is due to be published on the 5th of March 2020; it has been a long time coming, and to remind her readers of what they have been missing, a slim and free booklet has been published (and at the time of writing is still available in Booka), which gives a recap of important events, some interesting historical context, and a sneak preview of what we can expect in the upcoming publication. Likewise, Adam Hamdy, whose espionage thriller Black 13 is due for release on the 23rd of January, has created a limited-edition exclusive booklet with content for his early loyal readers. We are hosting what is sure to be a very exciting evening here at Booka on the 16th January with Adam Hamdy, a whole week before the general release, keep an eye out for more details on that event coming soon.

The wonderful extras

Imagine this: if you had come to our wonderful 10th Birthday celebration on the 5th of October, you will know that we were giving 10% of that day to all our customers, so you could have bought Philip Pullman’s The Secret Commonwealth for £22.50, and you would have also got a limited edition tote bag, badge and possibly a themed bookmark too. The edition could also have been signed, if you grabbed one early, and would have been the version with the limited print too. These items grouped together are already being resold for as much as £75. Not bad going! Independent customers are increasingly being rewarded with additional items such as badges, pins, artwork, prints, bags and limited content and we will always share these items with you when they are available. Makes you feel sorry for people who haven’t got a local independent bookshop of their own!

If you weren’t able to join us for our magical Christmas shopping evening on the 13th of November, we are sorry to have missed you. It has become a really lovely event each year, and this year was no exception. It was a busy but fabulous evening, with so many of our loyal customers and started our run up to Christmas in great spirits. As seen on the night we have lots of fabulous Christmas books, gifts, decorations and cards waiting for your easiest and most difficult gift needs in store, so do come and browse. We are always willing to make suggestions for gift ideas, so please ask for some guidance and we will be more than happy to help.

Finally, there are still tickets available for what is sure to be a stand out event with Lemn Sissay on the 20th of November. Winner of the PEN Pinter prize and holding an MBE, his latest publication, My Name is Why is his fascinating memoir of a childhood steeped in uncertainty and transience, charting his experiences in the British care system, the power of home, and the importance of creativity in finding a voice. Lemn is experienced performer and our evening in his company is certain to be memorable. Tickets are still available here and signed copies are available to order here.

The weather might be cold, but our shop is warm and welcoming. Come and join us at Booka soon.

Image by Liblicas from Pixabay