Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Decision Points" Limited Edition is a Bogus Collectible

by Stephen J. Gertz

A  deluxe, signed limited edition of former President George W. Bush's new book, Decision Points, will be released on November 30, 2010. The retail price is $350.

From Random House, its publisher:

"The limited, deluxe edition of Decision Points is certain to be a collector’s item and a highly sought after piece of Presidential history.

"Each copy will be hand signed by President Bush. The book itself will be printed on high-quality, acid-free paper and bound in a full cloth case with foil stamping. In addition, the book will have a ribbon marker and a special color photo frontispiece not found in the regular hardcover edition of Decision Points. Each book is individually hand numbered, packed into slipcases, and shrink-wrapped."

Book collectors may be asking themselves, How many copies is the limited edition limited to? 250? 500? 750? 1000? 2000? What? A search of the Random House website, Amazon, etc. came up empty. Inquiries to Random House have not been answered. But a notice on Random House's website today says that "Due to overwhelming demand, this  [limited edition] is no longer available for pre-order on Random Please contact a local retailer."

I smell a large limited edition. It's probably not the case here but back in the day of clandestine literature in the U.S. it was not unusual for a limited edition to be limited only by the number of copies the publisher could print.

Should you not be able to snag a copy of the limited edition, you can request an Autographed Bookplate that  you can slip into your copy of the standard, trade edition.

"We regret that books mailed to President George W. Bush cannot be returned to you. Due to shipping costs and logistical concerns, it is not possible for President Bush to autograph copies of Decision Points sent through the mail. Please understand that we cannot accept responsibility for any books delivered to him.

"President Bush will sign a limited number of Decision Points bookplates. To request an autographed insert for your copy of the book, please write:

Decision Points
Office of George W. Bush
Post Office Box 259000

Dallas, Texas 75225-9000

"Be sure to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope; your full name; and the name of the bookplate recipient (if different)."

Caveat emptor. This is an empty collectible:

Those interested in acquiring either the limited edition of Decision Points or a signed bookplate to insert within the standard edition  should be aware that this is a top-down, manufactured collectible; true collectibles rise from the bottom-up, determined by the marketplace. The number of limited edition copies of Decision Points could be five hundred, it could be two thousand. We don't know because the publisher is not telling us; a big red flag for the serious collector. A copy from an edition of 500 will be more valuable than a copy from an edition of 1,000. It would be nice to know ahead of time, crucial if you are a hard-core collector.

And  signed bookplates inserted into a book add little value to a collectible volume; collectors want the signature to be in the book itself to demonstrate that the author actually had the volume in their hands. Who knows, maybe the book plates were signed with an auto-pen, the signature thus near worthless. As Random House notes, the deluxe edition is hand-signed. The absence of the word "hand" along side  its desired mate "signed" in their description of the bookplate is conspicuous.

The not too far from reality is that, with the former President signing so many copies of the trade edition at book store appearances, the rarest, most desirable first edition copies of Decision Points in the future may turn out to be the unsigned copies. Collectors will decide, not Random House.

Buy the limited edition of Decision Points if you prefer the nicer binding, paper, bookmark ribbon, and slipcase. But don't buy it with the expectation that you've made a wise book collecting choice and will reap a  future financial benefit ala Antiques Roadshow. Or that it will appreciate in value at all. $350 is a lot to pay for a faux collectible.

We await a Decision Points Commemorative Plate from The Franklin Mint, the experts at creating artificial collectibles.



  1. It wasn't hard to find out that it will be limited to 1000 copies; simple internet search and found it.

  2. I'm pleased you found it. It doesn't change the fact that on its website Random House does not state it, nor that the whole concept of a publisher-created "collectible" is the opposite of how a collectible is determined - which is by collectors, not the manufacturer.

  3. Hard to take a limited edition seriously if the copies aren't numbered as well as signed. The publisher can say it's limited to 1,000 copies, but if there is no limitation statement and number in the book, how can you be sure?

  4. To be fair, I have heard that it's a REALLY nice ribbon marker.

  5. Informative post Stephen. I have ordered the Limited Edition of the Bush book to go next to the Blair Limited Edition. They were selling for $1600 and then dropped to $800 once the hardcore book collectors got them. It will be intresting to see how it goes with the Bush ones.

  6. I am just sooo happy I got a first edition.. Love the Bush family..Only Time tells what is collectible and what is not. As in all things, it is in the eyes of the beholder.

  7. * As you may already know, On April 26, 2010, Random House, which is generally considered one of the more reputable and historically significant publishers in the U.S. - issued a press release indicating a print run of 1,000. Visit:

    * An eBay seller has already posted that Random House will have a limited edition print run of "4,500." Where he got that information is anyone's guess and sounds ridiculous on its face. Whether the number is 500 or 1,000 or even 4,500, what you are purchasing is a guaranteed, "hand-signed" product. Any attempt to place a bookplate in these limited editions -- or to use an auto-pen, despite marketing this product as being "hand signed" -- would be an outrage that could easily generate adverse media attention against Random House and the author - should anyone be so inclined to fan the flames citing consumer fraud.

    * Until we get them in our hands, we won't know what the limitation page will look like. I am still guessing traditional, esp. when it comes to Random House, e.g., the way it handled limited editions it published for Truman Capote and Ayn Rand; that is, featuring a boiler plate limitation page that INCLUDES a copy number and a print run number. Anything else from Crown, an imprint of Random House, would be high treason to the collecting world and I'm sure executives there already know this, which could explain the "caginess" about the print run number today vs. what was declared to the press in late April 2010.

    * It should also be noted that it's ridiculous to expect any author signing "limited editions" with stacks of books in their laps or on tables if the print run is greater than 500. I've been told by publishing employees that the preferred method today is a signed page that is BOUND into the book during the manufacturing process, much like the way signed editions are made by Easton Press and Premiere Collectibles, the latter which handled the first limited edition Palin bio.

    * Finally, there will always be a healthy market for presidential limited editions, depending upon the popularity of the executive. These may not be worth $350, but they will hold some value after the frenzy dies down. I recommend people to "wait it out." You will always be able to find these as there are countless wholesale "flippers" of these books as there are true collectors who will buy them for whatever the market will bear. Looks at the past performance of countless books signed by Jimmy Carter. You can still find signed editions by him for straight-up retail at Easton or with reasonable mark-ups at other venues.

    * Because Bush was a consequential and controversial president, demand for his book will be stratospheric initially. The 1.5 million first print run for the trade edition is astounding but comparable in number to the first print runs of the Hillary and Palin bios. Has anyone seen a second trade edition printing of Palin's "Going Rogue"? I haven't. Compare the past performance of limited edition memoirs signed by Carter, Ford, Nixon, Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. What the Bush memoir has going for it is a frenzied fan base -- and generally positive reviews for readability, candor and for possessing a thematic - rather than a linear/chronological structure - that would be subject to great change. This is a memoir that, while filled with many self-deprecating passages, is by no means as harsh as what we'd expect from future historians who will analyze Bush's legacy in greater detail, many years hence.

  8. This post was not a review of the merits of the book, simply its viability as a collectible.

    With the huge print run of the trade edition (and signed copies) and the unusually large "limited" signed edition this book will never become rare. Rarity and desirability determine the collectible aftermarket.

    While the future remains to be seen, we in the trade believe that the glut of copies will far exceed those interested in seriously collecting the book. The price will not appreciate in our lifetime - and likely a few more, at least.

    It should be noted that the only presidential memoir that has any significant collectible value is U.S. Grant's.

  9. You flaming liberals never stop, do you. Bush could cure cancer, and you'd still find fault. Just give it up already.

  10. The James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, Dwight Eisenhower, Theodore Roosevelt, etc. marketed and created collectibles are practically worth the paper they are printed on (including the value of the limited edition signatures).

  11. Well Mr. Expert I took personally did extensive research, called the publisher, Bush center and the Reagan library for confirmation. It's definitely hand-signed, not autopen and definitely only 1000 copies in existence, which that alone will give it value regardless. And for those interested there will be NO more in person book signings by the president. Only bookplates if you request in writing. So thanks for trying. I'm sure your next post will be that Sarah Palin's book is really signed by Bristol. lol

  12. This seems to be pretty "Open and Shut" to me since the publisher has stuck their neck out and guaranteed 1000, hand-signed and numbered copies of the Limited Edition:

    It took about 30 seconds to find this online...maybe next time you will do a little research before you go out blasting false information.

  13. To the last few commentators: Not a false word of info here, nor political commentary. Please read carefully before your biases twist comprehension.

    Do I know everything about the world of rare books and the trade? No. Do I know 1,000% more than the average person and/or casual book collector. Yes; I've been a professional in the rare book trade for 25 years.

    Fact-based reality: Over 500,000 in-print copies of the trade edition means that it will never become rare. Close to 5,000 signed copies of the trade edition means that those copies will never become rare. 1,000 signed copies of the limited edition means that it will never become rare. For any iteration to become rare would require that the book collecting market for presidential material grow dramatically - humongously - larger than it currently is for demand to exceed supply. Each of these editions of Decision Points will fall into the ocean of "used books," out there but far from rare - and are highly unlikely, if ever, to appreciate in value.

    Once again, we are talking here about the limited edition's viability as a collectible with potential to increase in value. Please read the body of the text. It spells out exactly why Decision Points will likely never become a desired collectible in the future.

    And, one again, a collectible book or a collectible anything is determined by the aftermarket, not the new book's publisher. Promoting a book as collectible before it is even released is all about marketing and has nothing to do with book collecting at all.

  14. So, the book was released yesterday. Has anyone had the chance to open one up and see if it's numbered?

  15. I just opened one - it has number 3947 - with no indication out of how many printed

  16. Wow... 3947!?? Guess we know why they took the "1,000" off of everything. Demand was so high that they started to see the $$$Green$$$..

    I ordered one, if it's above a 1000 I'm returning it. $300 for a book that has 5,000+ prints is a joke. Maybe when Crown starts getting back open books from Amazon and BN.. They might realize all the $$$ they thought is now going to the Dollar Book Stores.

  17. It's official. 4,500 is the print run.

    This is the email I received from David Drake
    Sr. VP, Exec. Director of Publicity, The Crown Publishing Group

    "Crown initially planned a print run of 1,000 copies of the limited edition, but subsequently raised the print run to a total of 4,500 copies in order not to disappoint consumers. There will be no additional printings of the limited edition. I can assure you that it is was never our intention to mislead consumers or collectors. In April of this year, we announced that a print run of 1,000 copies was planned, but there were a great number of consumers who expressed disappointment at not being able to purchase a copy and we sought to accommodate them."

  18. Thank you, Ryan.

    I rest my case. 4,500 copies is not a "limited" edition.

  19. I have justed received my copy of the limited edition. It is signed and numbered and is in the 500's. My copy has two signed is numbered and the other is not. Is this an error? Why would there be two pages with author signature?

  20. I received a copy numbered 3880. The presentation is far from elegant. Since I purchased it believing that it was limited to 1000 copies, I am returning it. What the publisher did may be legal but it is far from ethical!

  21. I purchased 5 copies because the price went down! It is still the autograph of a president and I will be happy to have one from George W. Bush no matter the number on my book. All my other Collector's Editions arrived signed. The value is what I feel when I have my own copy of this book.

    I have heard that even when getting Bush's autograph in person some had two signatures from Mr. President.

  22. I have also went ahead bought a few copies. Right now you can get them for around $300-$350 off ebay. Not bad being this is from the President. I just wish Crown would have been more upfront.

  23. Just got my book today. It is 1703. Doesn't bother me much. Didn't buy as a collectible but got it on Amazon for $220 last summer so not bad for a President's book

  24. Wouldn't surprize me if there was 10 000 copies printed of this book, ridiculous...
    I've got copy 1040, but heard of people with copy 4669. Somehow, I don't believe It when publisher says 4500...

  25. Received the book plate in the mail. States that it is indeed "hand-signed".

  26. I just ordered the book three days ago....and got # 1!!
    How great is that! Thank you Jesus!!

  27. There were 4,700 limited edition books sold.

    If you purchased a book and have a receipt, check out the following link.


Subscribe to BOOKTRYST by Email