Signed Bookplate: What it is and Why it Exists November 15 2022

Before signed bookplates existed, people used to tip in or add autographed cards, signed programs, and even handwritten notes signed by the authors.

A bookplate is a sticky piece of paper that is attached or glued to one of the first pages of a book, so a signed bookplate will have the author/s signature on it. Instead of the author, it can also be an artist (such as the book illustrator/s). It can also be the publisher, a person who is the subject of the book, or a character in the story.



That the author signed on a sticker or piece of paper that was attached or glued to the book, and not on the book paper itself.


George Bush signed book

George Bush signed book with signature on a book plate printed with his name 



You may be wondering why they didn’t simply sign on the book itself. Well, the answer is logistics. Bookplates offer an inexpensive and convenient way for any publisher to have a large number of book copies signed.

Instead of sending hundreds of unsigned book copies to the signer/s, who have previously agreed to sign many copies, they simply send bookplates. This way, they don´t have to send hundreds or even thousands of unsigned book copies.

Anna-Lisa Bjorling - Andrew Farkas - Signed Book Jussi

Book "Jussi" signed by Anna-Lisa Bjoerling & Andrew Farkas on an attached bookplate 


Once these stickers have been signed and returned, the publisher only needs to attach those signed stickers to the books. This is done after the book has already been bound and is ready for sale.

It also saves the signer from having to travel to the location of the books, which is especially convenient for very busy authors or VIPs.



Arthur C. Clarke signed personal bookplate

Any piece of paper with a signature attached to a book does qualify it as a genuine signed book. But bookplates can and usually are considered an exception to this, and those books are marketed as “signed books” everywhere. Not that everyone agrees, but most people do.

[IMAGE] Personal bookplate signed by the English science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008)

Also, the chances of finding autopen signatures increase dramatically on signed bookplates, so signatures on bookplates need to be checked very carefullyso this is kind of an important problem. You would think that anyone who did not go to the trouble of getting hundreds or thousands of books signed in his home or traveling to sign them could just as easily use a machine to do the job.

Some people, including unprofessional dealers, cut signatures from autograph albums, typed letters, programs, and other sources and stick them to books. They obviously do not get a signed book, but instead, two ruined collectibles: an autographed item and a fine copy of a book.



Bookplate for the 1949 Way of Fighter

Besides the most simple ones, a fully blank sticker with a signature, bookplates can include graphic elements that can help make the book more official and the autograph more authentic.

[IMAGE] Bookplate for the 1949 Way of Fighter - Unused, and signed by 17 Flying Tigers

These elements can include the author's letterhead, the publisher's logo, or an institution that supports the book's publication or is associated with the author. Or it can simply be some fancy borders with no special meaning or value. When evaluating a purchase of a signed bookplate, you need to discern what is important from what is not.

It is also important to note that signed bookplates can and sometimes are sold independently, that is, without or no longer (if ever) being attached to a book. This obviously decreases the value when compared to the same plate attached to a book, but it does not imply that the signature it carries is not authentic.



Signed bookplates are simply signed stickers added to one of the first pages of a book, usually either the front-end pages or the first blank page.

They are a simple way for a publisher to solve the logistical problems of having large numbers of book copies signed by the author/s.

While some collectors do not consider books with signed bookplates as collectible and desirable as signed books, most do not have a problem buying and treasuring them, just like any signed book.

Pay special attention to the authenticity of signatures in any signed bookplates you may come across, and be aware that they are sometimes sold separately from the book to which they belong.

We hope this short guide helped you with some useful advice in your hunt for autographed books.



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