If you can find an unsigned copy, it's worth an absolute fortune

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/08/05 16:46 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2008/08/05/8834892.aspx

I was pondering the other day.

You see, Ed Ye is leaving our team, and heading back to family and homeland in China.

We have worked together many times over the last many years so I'll definitely miss him being in an office not far from mine (he has always been on the other side of the building but the distance didn't scare me off!).

Anyway, as a part of going back to China he is giving away a lot of books that he really can't ship back with him.

So, like many others I am scrounging through the pikes of books outside his office.

I grabbed a copy of Helen Custer's Inside Windows NT (mine looks a lot more beat up than his, despite the fact that his is older and I haven't opened mine in years)

And a copy of Jeffrey Richter's Advanced Windows (his is the same age as mine but definitely in better shape, mine was falling apart!).

Then suddenly I stopped.

The copy of my book that he had me sign was there.

The scene that came to my mind unbidden was from Notting Hill, one of my favorite movies for perhaps not entirely unfathomable reasons:

{William returns to his desk. In the monitor we just glimpse, as does William, the book coming out of the trousers and put back on the shelves. The thief drifts out towards the door. Anna, who has observed all this, is looking at a blue book on the counter.}

WILLIAM: Sorry about that...
ANNA: No, that's fine.  I was going to steal one myself but now I've changed my mind.  Signed by the author, I see.
WILLIAM: Yes, we couldn't stop him.  If you can find an unsigned copy, it's worth an absolute fortune.

{Anna smiles}

I look at the words I wrote and I wonder what I will do with the book that has a "To Edward" inscription in it. Maybe I should have just left it for someone else to pick up but I just felt compelled to figure out something to do with it.

Now in theory I could just sell it somewhere so that some worthy soul who had been looking for it can have a copy.

Obviously for a discount.

Though it's in good shape and still has the CD (I think about Ed and wonder how does that man not kick the crap out of his books as I have done so often in the past!), it just seems weird to sell it at its market value (whatever that is).

Like Hugh Grant said, if you can find an unsigned copy, it's worth an absolute fortune -- but the signed ones (especially when they contain a note to someone else) seem worth a bit less to everyone other than the person they were intended for.

You will definitely be missed, Ed. You drove a lot of work that I value to completion and taught me more than you may know about software globalization and other topics over the years....


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Mike Dimmick on 6 Aug 2008 5:43 AM:

On-topic: Is there any reason you're interested in the older books than the latest versions, which have changed titles and in the case of Inside Windows NT, authors?

Latest editions:

"Windows via C/C++", Jeff Richter (pub Dec 2007)

"Windows Internals, 4th Ed", Mark Russinovich and David Solomon (pub Jan 2005, 5th edition coming in November 2008)

Off-topic (kind of): I've often speculated that, considering the number of signings he does, Terry Pratchett books may be worth more unsigned. Still, he does sell a huge number of copies as well!

Book habits: Do you leave the book open upside-down on your desk? That will tend to damage them. Get a bookmark! Admittedly the page with the CD on tends to fall out if it gets even a reasonable amount of use, this has happened to my copy of Inside SQL Server 2000. Books with CDs are a dying breed - easier to point readers to a website.

Michael S. Kaplan on 6 Aug 2008 11:42 AM:

History, man -- it is all about history!

That is one of many habits I have beenm trying hard to get out of for some time. :-)

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