The author's autograph on the front end paper provides distinctiveness to a book in your collection. It gives the book a more personal touch, and if you ever decide to sell it, an autographed copy would almost certainly fetch a higher price. Where, on the other hand, can you get a steady supply of signed books?

Most autographed books are signed as part of a routine promotional campaign for a newly released book, so keep an eye on different publishing houses' release timetables. If there’s an author you like who has a book due for publication, you should also check the author’s own website or blog, for it is on such sites that you may get advance warning of events, readings and book signings in your city.

Another way to do this is to contact the author directly by mail or email. Write, explaining that you are a fan of his or her work and requesting a signed copy of the new book. If you offer the purchase price plus the cost of shipping, plus a spoonful of flattery, few authors will turn down a guaranteed sale.

You should also scour bookselling websites and bricks and mortar antiquarian and collectors’ bookshops as often as you can. Here you will often find well-stocked specialist sections for autographed books. For obvious reasons, such collectors’ bookshops and websites are pretty much your only hope of getting your hands on signed copies of books by deceased authors.

Finally, you should subscribe to as many literary and bibliophile websites and blogs as you can. Such sites sometimes run competitions where the prizes are signed copies of new books. Enter as many of these competitions as you can and you stand to win some free books, and signed ones into the bargain!