Our first experience with signed books happened several years ago. When my son was in grade one, he really loved books written by Robert Munsch. He even signed all his school papers with the author's name. My sister-in-law lives in Guelph, Ontario - the home of Robert Munsch - and when she heard about this, she called Mr. Munsch. After hearing the story, he graciously invited her to his home where he signed some books and showed her some of the new things he was working on. Later, my boy was very excited to receive two books from his aunt, written by his favorite author. He grew out of the Robert Munsch phase but still treasures those books, six years later.
When I went to the LDStorymakers conference in 2007, I was excited to learn at the feet of authors I'd read and loved. It never occurred to me that they would be real, approachable people who experienced some of the same feelings about writing I did. Another unexpected thing was the books. I guess went to the conference a little naive, but I didn't expect the bookstore. What a treasure trove of good stories and the authors milling around, perfectly willing to sign copies of their books. I came home from that conference with several books, all of them signed. The kids were very impressed that I got to meet all those authors. And it is nice to be able to call some of those same authors friends.
Now it has become kind of a hobby for us. The kids all have their own signed books and I have a shelf where I keep mine. Yesterday, my brother and his wife came over to give my son his birthday present. He opened the package and beamed when he saw a copy of James Dashner's The 13th Reality. I'd been telling him he ought to read it and his cousin has been raving about it as well. The gift was a hit, from the moment he saw it, but when he opened the front cover and found it was signed copy, I think it quickly became his favorite gift.
The biggest problem now is when I give them a book, they always look in the front to see if I managed to meet the author. I'm hoping when I finally get something published, they will be just as excited to get a copy signed by their own mother. Probably not. James Dashner or J. Scott Savage will always be just a little more exciting, and that's fine, because let's face it - I think it's pretty cool, too.