California memorabilia law could tank small bookstores

Author signings are an important source of traffic for many small community bookstores, but the new California law discussed in this space last year could make them impractical. The bill requires that retailers provide witnessed certificates of authenticity for signed items of value, which must record extensive information on matters such as the size of the edition and price paid, all on pain of steep penalties. They must also retain the resulting paperwork for seven years and will be subject to bounty-hunting suits by “private attorney general” attorneys. The bill’s sponsor apparently did not realize it would apply to signed books. Now Pacific Legal Foundation is challenging the statute in a lawsuit on behalf of San Francisco’s Book Passage store, co-owned by lawyer Bill Petrocelli. [Anastasia Boden, PLF Blog]


  • This applies to signed books if the bookstore has the author sign some that the bookstore then sells.
    It does not apply to the books you purchase and then stand in line to have the author sign.

    And for sports book authors (often, but not always, autobiographies), it already applied for the last 20 years.

  • He could make the customer buy the book before it gets signed. That solves the book signings part. The problem I forsee is that the author can’t sign a bunch of extras to be sold later. It’s a stupid law that is overreaching. Most book signatures are free and authors are happy to sign your book as long as you bought the book.

    I do wonder how this applies to authors who sell signed copies. Asking for a friend. But my experience is with science fiction authors.