Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Alabama Booksmith: A bookshop that sells only signed copies

Books are good but signed books are better. They are remarkable addition to any collection. A signature on a novel whose author is alive can add 30 percent to its original price. Signed books tend to be more expensive if the author rarely signs copies or is deceased.

Bibliophiles go to book launches, festivals and conventions just to get their books signed by their favorite authors. Unfortunately, not everyone has the inclination and temperament for such activities. Some people prefer to buy signed books because it's more convenient.

There's a lot of bookshops out there where you can buy signed stock by multiple authors, but the Alabama Booksmith in Birmingham is a rarity because all the titles on their shelves are signed copies. According to owner Jacob Reiss, this little bookstore near downtown Homewood is the only one in the world to make that claim.

"If a book is not important to us, we don't buy it," Reiss was quoted as saying by Atlas Obscura. "When we select a book, we're as strong in depth with that title as any chain of stores." Reiss has the largest "signed first edition club" in the U.S. and he sells to people around the globe.

The shop looks like a huge trailer from the outside, but inside it feels more like a boutique art gallery. All of the books are displayed "front out," meaning you see all covers and no spines. The Alabama Booksmith truly offers an experience that would be impossible to replicate for online booksellers or even large bookstores.

While most authors sign books sold by the Alabama Booksmith from the comfort of their homes or offices, some authors such as President Jimmy Carter, Tom Brokaw, Ken Burns and Pat Conroy have either come to the store or the store has come to them to sell their books at signings.

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