How many books should you take?
There are different guidelines and suggested etiquettes, but at the end of the day, if you bring just one book and look happy about it, you'll get it signed and improve your odds of seeing a much happier Terry Pratchett (and perhaps even manage to engage him in a brief conversation). If you bring a dozen books, it is very likely that there will be mutterings from the queue. It is also possible that either only one or none at all will get signed and the brief conversation stands a good chance of being replaced with a Very Pointed Look.
Okay, maybe you could have two or three books, but it definitely depends on the conditions of the day; size of queue, mood of bookshop owners, pain in Terry's wrist. So, if you can't decide between your limited edition Last Hero and your tattered, old, first-ever Pratchett novel (in addition to the new release hard cover on sale on the day), take all three along with you and prioritise their importance (eg. if it turns out to be a long queue and you can only get one book signed, which book will it be?). The following from Terry may in fact help you decide about old vs new:
Pack your treasured 2 or 3 items in a backpack and make a thorough assessment of the book signing conditions once you arrive. Remember that you are not the only person in the queue that might want more than one book signed!
What it should always come down to is the size of the queue and the attitude of the staff in the bookstore. Also, take a look at Terry; does he look tired and have icepacks on his wrist? If so, then it's definitely a one book only day. Is it a long queue? One book only. Is it a short queue and everyone looks happy? Trot out all three books and you could have a good day and get all of them signed.
Of course, there are exceptions, there usually is! Whilst, out of our deep respect for Terry, good fan behaviour is encouraged, there will always be those that bring the big piles of books - and occasionally get very lucky. As Terry explains following a 1993 signing tour:
However, as displayed on this same tour, accidents can happen:
So, it is suggested you stick to one book. Just to be on the safe side.
Terry has been known to sign other items. If your other item is something a little imaginative, then your odds are improved of getting them signed (for example, Terry once signed the server that lspace resides on).
It's all about being a considerate fan, remember that there are others in the queue that might want more than one book signed! Not forgetting that Terry is only human, and gets physically tired on these tours.
At the end of the day, Terry is always friendly and he will always sign one of his publications. It's just a matter of respecting him as a person instead of merely adoring him like a fan. Book signing tours are tiring and draining. Do you really want to be that one fan that adds to the burden? What is it that we most want Terry to be doing? Writing books. It's that simple. Let's keep him happy and fit and in front of that computer.
Terry has a lot to say on this matter, but the following couple of quotes capture his general feelings quite well.
The basic formula for an enjoyable book signing for all is :
Short queues = 2 or 3 items
Long queues = 1 book.
Keep it sensible and enjoy the day!
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