I was chatting with Kristina from Gone Pecan and Ginger from GReads briefly the other night as many book trades were flying around on the #booksfortrade hashtag on Twitter. When it came down to it, the question was, “Would you want a book from someone if it was personalized to them?” meaning, would you still want the book even if it had someone else’s name it? No matter what your answer (I’m sure there are conditions to whether you’d say yes or no), it made me stop and think how many books I got personalized that I wasn’t sure I would love. Or even thought that I would love and ended up — er– not finishing.
Some people may not mind someone else’s name in a book but I think that instantly decreases down a book’s desireability. I’ve passed on a lot of books that were personalized to someone else even if I wanted to own that book because… well, that’s always going to be meant for someone else. It’s also hard to give those books away too. Usually I have to give them away in the mass giveaways because no one really wants them.
So why do I keep doing this? It’s conference and signing guilt. I thought I was getting better at this… I had stopped getting books personalized at local author signings if I hadn’t read the book yet or really wasn’t sure I would fall in love with it because there were too many times that my gut feeling was right… and yet I came home from ALA in January 2015 with too many books personalized to me. Some I knew that I was so on the fence about and yet I couldn’t say no.
It’s tough. You’re face-to-face with an author who’s doing what they can to get you excited for their book. This is their blood, sweat, and tears. This is their baby. And I always feel like saying that I just want my book signed and not personalized means that I’m already doubting their work before I’ve even started it. I mean, I guess that might be true in some cases, but what’s so terrible about that? Everyone is entitled to feel what they feel when they read. We can’t all love every author’s book and it’s okay to feel a little doubt.
I especially struggle with this at author events with multiple authors or at conferences. One author? No problem. That’s who I’m there to see. Two authors? I usually try to read both books before the event so even if I don’t like Author B’s book I just… don’t buy that book for the event. I already know. But many authors? Conferences? For some reason I just can’t say no. I look them in the eye!!! (The eye contact. It kills me.) Especially at conferences. I don’t know why but I just can’t say no! I think I feel like they’re working so hard to promote their book and I’m eager to read and always hope to like the book.
This is how it always goes down:
I wait in line.
I wait in line for 15 minutes.
I wait in line for 30 minutes. (Conferences, yo. BEA signing lines are beasts.)
I finally get to the front of the line, totally jazzed by all of the excited fans that I’ve just talked to.
The author greets me a warm hello!
I say HELLO back (albeit probably a bit scared/nervous/awkward because that’s me)
They either A) ask me if i want the book personalized or B) ask me what my name is, already poised to personalize.
I LOOK THEM IN THE EYES.
And then I think about how bad I feel if I just say “signature only, please” because I feel like that’s basically saying “I don’t have confidence that I will like your book so just sign it in case I need to give it away later.”
Sometimes it’s a good choice! Don’t get me wrong. I’ve gotten books personalized before and I am like “YES! I knew I would love this!” And other times I feel even more guilty not finishing/not liking a book because my name is in there too! It was a promise to like the book! (Okay, not really. More like a promise I made to myself.)
Guys, it’s a true problem sometimes. I just feel THE GUILT when I have to actively turn down a personalization. I know I don’t have to get a book personalized. I know it’s okay to say that I don’t want my name in that book! But I feel like it hurts and instills doubt when I don’t! As a reader and collector, though, I’m doing the best that I can to stop letting that guilt get the best of me! I’ve gotten a lot better about signings (and I try to prepare and read beforehand so I know exactly what I will want personalized and what I won’t). Hopefully I’ll behave at BEA this year!
Here are some questions you can ask yourself if you’re debating (maybe while you’re in line!):
Have I read other books by this author before?
If so, how much did I enjoy them?
Have any of my friends aka truster reviewers read this book and which way do they lean?
Is it a format of the book you would want to keep? (I have some personalized ARCs and I would rather have a finished copy… but don’t need two.)
What would I do with this personalized book if I ended up not wanting to keep it?
Is it a desirable title that maybe someone else would want if I end up not keeping it?
It is always okay to say that you just want the book signed and not personalized! I’m not very good at saying no to personalizations… but I need to get better at that because it’s inevitable that you will dislike or feel less-than-stellar feelings about a book. That’s okay! But don’t stick yourself with a personalized copy because of guilt! Trust me. I’ve been there too many times!
Do you suffer from personalization guilt? What do you do with your books that you have personalized that you don’t want to keep anymore? What’s your best advice to those suffering from this phenomenon?
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