RARE BOOK GUIDE - THE RUNNERS, THE RIDERS & THE ODDS

14 August 2010

The Blair signing project

Serious protests are expected outside Waterstone's in Piccadilly when Tony Blair signs his memoir A Journey on 8 September. A £30,000 bounty has been offered by the Stop the War Coalition to anyone who manages to arrest Blair. The Coalition's Andrew Burkin said: "We are appalled that Waterstone's are prepared to have him on their premises. It is a disgrace that he is swanning around with police protection at our expense ­ he should be in The Hague on trial for war crimes." Cost of protection is estimated at £250,000. Tony has received a £4.6 million advance. For the signing itself, the rules imposed by Blair's publishers on the Waterstone's event include no photos, no personal dedications and all bags, backpacks and briefcases must be checked in, along with cameras and mobile phones... Blair will sign a maximum of two books per customer.

No customer can actually guarantee to have their book signed. Tony probably has an urgent appointment afterwards to make one of his £2000 a minute speeches, so time is limited. It is hard for those outside Britain to understand the depth of loathing people here have for Blair. We also hate to see a guy making serious money unless he is kicking a football or in a boy band. To be fair other stars have imposed similar restrictions at signings, fans had to go through all sorts of hoops a few years ago to get their book signed by Paul McCartney. It was all worthwhile when later that week they made £300 on Ebay for a few hours of bollocks at Harrods. Dylan did a signing where one of the provisos was that none of the bookshop staff looked him in the eye, but strange behaviour is now expected from rock stars.

I had an earlier signed Blair book last year and it sold with alacrity at £200. Now there are no signed books for less than £400, with signed photos at £100. Being a very important person he has little time for signing and probably regards autograph hunters as losers. Churchill had no such problem and even Margaret Thatcher was, in her day, a willing signer. As for Ted Heath…

Salman Rushdie is an Olympic standard signer and will sign up to 8 books per person including old editions, consequently signed values are low. It will be interesting to see the fate of copies of Blair's A Journey on Ebay hours after the signing.

I went to a signing by Colin Wilson in the early 1990's and was surprised to see several Wilson clones. Young guys in black polo neck jerseys and black National Health specs with thatches of unruly hair, like the angry young man Wilson had been in 1960. The idea of a Blair clone is slightly distasteful but one wonders if people's dogs will be banned from the Waterstone's signing-- especially poodles.

[Pic below of Pamela Anderson in the famous book signing scene in Borat.]

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