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Wednesday, May 01, 2002

Hi, Neil. I just wanted to let you know something odd-- I was wandering around my school library the other day at lunchtime, and saw that they'd finally gotten a few of your books. I picked up the brand-new hardback copy of "Stardust," and much to my surprise found your autograph on the title page, along with a nifty little picture of a moon. Now, my library is pretty bland and oppressive as high school libraries go, and the shelves are all half-filled and neglected-looking, and all the cool books thay have are the ones I asked them for. So finding that they had a book that someone had apparently gone to the trouble of having signed was a big surprise.

The thing is, I asked the librarian where they'd gotten the book, and she said it wasn't donated. It had been bought from a supplier like their other books. So do you ever sign books that are destined for public school libraries, or did some student with a pen just get bored? Just wondering.--Holli


Neither. What happened was, in 1998, Borders Books asked me to sign a lot of copies of Stardust for their "authorless signings" which they did when the books came out in January 1999. I signed several thousand sheets of blank paper, often drawing things on them, which were bound into books, which were only for sale through Borders.

At the Authorless signings they'd show the video of Neverwhere, give people cookies, and sell the signed books. Afterwards, I got a tee shirt from every Borders Books that participated, most of which were immediately stolen by my son, and only the other day his girlfriend was grumbling about the number of Borders tee shirts that he wears, so it was a very successful book promotion at least as measured by keeping my son in tee shirts.

Actually, lots of the books were sold, but there was nothing on the cover to indicate that the books were signed, so after the "authorless signings" were done, the unsold books went onto the shelves, and nobody knew they were signed.

And then two things happened. Sometimes the books sat on the shelves at Borders, and sometimes they went back into the system. Either way, ever since then people have been buying hardback copies of Stardust and finding them signed and doodled on. Sometimes they hand them to me at signings. "I signed this already,"I say, and their jaws drop. "But I just bought it!" they say, astonished.

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