I debated about writing this post for a few weeks after being questioned in another post about my refusal to buy John Grisham books anymore. But, after much thought- this story needs to be told. If you are an avid John Grisham fan, I suggest you stop right here and not read further. For everyone else- read on!
Once upon a time, a long time ago, T was not quite the avid book signing attendee that she is now. But, lo and behold, one day, one happy day- I was in an indie book store to see the Sweet Potato Queen, Jill Conner Browne read and sign from her latest (It should be noted that this was early 2008- just to give you a reference of time!) While there at the signing, I noticed a sign advertising signed copies available of John Grisham’s latest- THE APPEAL. This caused a happy dance in T of magnificent proportions.
Let me dial the years back a few and tell you of my beginnings with John Grisham: Way back in the day, when I was younger, I was a reader without books. See, YA was not as popular as it is now 15+ years later. And I had fallen in an area of not being able to find books to read- I was too old feeling for The BabySitters Club books and felt I had outgrown the stories of RL Stine. Since vampires and werewolves were lightyears from being invented by Stephanie Meyer, I was in a bad place. I was not sure where to turn for books. Enter John Grisham. His books were getting quite popular with THE FIRM and THE PELICAN BRIEF being made into movies, so I decided to give him a try. The stories about the law, mob ties and the mysteries were interesting to me- and I read them when I could. Then, after Francine Pascal released SVU, I abandoned John Grisham for more age appropriate books- even though THE PELICAN BRIEF (book and movie) still held good places in my bookish heart. Fast forward many years later, I’m in college. And John Grisham makes occasional trips to the town I attend college in for various events and some book signings. I long to go- but each time one is scheduled- outside forces conspire to keep me away (tests, study groups, etc). And then a few years later, I see the sign at the indie book store. I see that I can get a signed copy. I feel that fate has smiled upon me. I inquire at the register and learn that he will not be personalizing copies- it’ll just be his signature. I think “ok, not exactly what I want. But better to have just a signed copy than nothing at all!”
So, I make arrangements to reserve a signed copy, to have it sent to me mail (as opposed to picking the book up at the store because I was unsure when I would be back in the area). And then they told me the price: $25.99 for the book (plus shipping!) I, having been used to buying books at Walmart and Amazon- where they give you savings on the MSRP, felt some pain. (At this point in my life, I just did not spend that kind of money on books. I really did not. And it hurt my pocketbook.) But, I rationalized all that away and said “I’ll finally have a SIGNED book from John Grisham. It’ll be wonderful. Worth the money. I’ll start a signed book bookshelf where I will display all the glittering jewels that I’m going to start investing in!” And then I left the book store, happy as a clam, knowing that in 3 or so weeks my little hands would be clutching a copy of THE APPEAL signed by John Grisham.
3 weeks go by and I have told everybody about this book- oh that I can’t wait for it, oh it’s going to go right on my bookshelf. I am beyond excited. **I should pause in my story now and tell you, the readers of Traveling With T, that I have probably now been to at least 50 signings in my life. I have seen authors sign their names, I have seen them write long personal notes to the signee, I have seen them do many things- but I have never, in over 50 author signings, seen this:
So, you might be wondering what the big deal is- I mean, it’s signed. You got the signed book from John Grisham that you wanted.
And yes. It is signed. Yes, I now have a signed book. But, the way he signed it- I mean could John not have taken the extra 15 seconds to shift the book around? To me, it just was in bad taste- I mean do you think he would have appreciated receiving a signed book from an author that he admired looking like that?!
The John Grisham incident was a cautionary tale in many ways to me: I don’t buy books from signings that I will not be at (fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me!) and I do not buy John Grisham books anymore. I refuse to spend my money with an author, who I had once admired, who would treat a book signing so callously as to not even make sure the book was turned the right way before signing it. I realize that by the time that John Grisham signed this book, it was in 2008- and considering the man had been signing books for others fans and book stores for a good 20 years- his hand was probably tired. He had probably forgot how a person feels about getting a signed book- I’m sure it had become a blasé thing to him- BUT that is exactly why he needed to pull it together. You must remember the fans. They are who put you on the lists. Who buy your books. Who make it possible for you to have books to sign.
I get that John Grisham is feeling no pain from my choice to not buy anymore of his books. It’s a total non-issue for him. The royalty checks are rolling in, he’s getting attention for his latest book- you know, it’s just the same old for him. But I’ll never forget the disappointment I felt when I looked at this book, saw how it was signed. How when family asked to see the signed book, the book that I had been so excitedly chatting about, I reluctantly pulled it out to show them, only to have them pull a FACE like the infamous face mentioned in Sex and The City.
And, just in case you are curious, that bookshelf of signed books I wanted to have? I have it. But John Grisham’s book doesn’t make the cut. It’s in a pile of books elsewhere in my library-but not taking up prime real estate on my signed bookshelf.
Readers: Have you ever been disappointed by a signed book?
Happy Reading and Bookishly Yours,
T @ Traveling With T