(1) THE FLYLEAF IS STILL HITTING THE FAN. When it was first reported that Governor Brown had signed this law, it was in triumphant terms of Mark Hamill no longer being victimized by autograph forgeries. Now people have looked under the hood and are reacting with outrage — “New California law will make it harder to sell autographed books, art”.
The law supersedes existing California law, which had previously only been directed at sports memorabilia. The law requires that any autographed item sold for more than $5 must include a certificate of authenticity including information about the dealer, where and how the item was signed, and the name and address of any third party from whom it was purchased. The law was undoubtedly aimed at shutting down forgery mills, but it was written so broadly that it will make things a lot harder for anyone dealing in autographed goods.
You don’t have to think about this law for very long before you realize how problematic it would be for antique and second-hand booksellers, some of whom carry hundreds or thousands of autographed copies of books. Given that few such books would sell for less than $5, this means that these booksellers must either create individual certificates of authenticity for each book, or else discard thousands of dollars in inventory that is no longer salable. Even if they were to create such certificates, in the case of a third party purchase the certificates would have to include the personal information of whoever sold it to them–a clear violation of privacy.
It would also apply to any art gallery that sold original works–and the ramifications for San Diego Comic Con and other conventions that have “artist’s alleys” where artists can set up booths to sell (and autograph) their own artwork might also be considerable–to say nothing of authors who set up to do the same thing for their books. What if everyone who sold an autographed book or sketch had to make out a certificate of authenticity when they sold it? (The law says that “the person who signed the memorabilia” isn’t considered a “dealer,” but if they’re also the one who sells the work in question, they should still be on the hook for it.) Likewise, it will also affect out-of-state dealers who want to sell to California residents, or who come to those conventions to display their art.
The Eureka Booksellers site reported what action its owners are taking.
Two prominent California booksellers — Scott Brown, co-owner of Eureka Books in Eureka, and Bill Petrocelli, co-owner of Book Passage in Corte Madera and San Francisco — have written letters to their representatives* in opposition to Assembly Bill 1570 Collectibles: Sale of Autographed Memorabilia, which was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on September 9 and requires dealers in any autographed material to provide certificates of authenticity (COA) for any signed item sold for $5 or more.
Brown and Petrocelli assert that though the law is intended to regulate the sale of sports and movie memorabilia and combat “forgery mills,” it will have drastic, unintended consequences for the sale of signed books, paintings, sculptures and almost every other type of artwork. Under the law, which would go into effect next January, COAs for signed memorabilia would have to include a description of the collectible and name of the person who autographed it; include either the purchase price and date of sale or be accompanied by a separate invoice with that information; indicate whether the item was autographed in the presence of the dealer with specified date and location and name of witness; or, in the event that it was obtained or purchased from a third party, indicate the name and address of that party. Dealers must also keep their copies of these COAs for at least seven years….
(2) PKD FILM FESTIVAL. The Philip K. Dick European Science Fiction Film Festival boasts two lineups of over 40 films to be screened at sites in two countries.
In Cologne, Germany from October 14-15 at Filmclub 813 e.V., the program includes a special block of virtual reality films presented with Google Glass. The festival then returns to Lille, France at the L’Hybride theater on October 22.
Highlights include Juho Aittanen’s Hypnos based on a story by H.P. Lovecraft, Coralie Fargeat’s sensory perception drama Reality+, Thierry Los’ robotic surf culture short Forbidden Beach and Eymeric Jorat’s robotic murder mystery Jakob. The Cologne virtual reality blocks includes Ben Leonberg’s zombie apocalypse Dead Head, Philipp Maas and Dominik Stockhausen’s atmospheric Sonar, Ryan Hartsell’s music video I’ll Make You Bleed by the band “These Machines are Winning” and Pierre Zandrowicz’s I, Philip, an in-depth look into the mind of an android modeled after the one and only Philip K. Dick.
(3) SMOFCON SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS. CanSMOF Inc, has announced the recipients of three scholarships given to help fans attend SMOFcon 34 in Chicago. IL, December 2-4. CanSMOF Inc. created these scholarships to allow promising convention-runners to attend the annual SMOFCon convention-runners convention. The first scholarship was open to a Canadian citizen or resident. The winner is Patricia Widish of Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The second was open to a non-North American resident. It went to Esther MacCallum-Stewart of Southville, Bristol, United Kingdom.
The third was open to anyone involved in running conventions, regardless of their place of residence or citizenship. This scholarship was awarded to Katharine Bond of Seattle, Washington.
(4) FIFTIES SF MOVIES. Carl Slaughter wants people to know about Bill Warren’s Keep Watching the Skies, a recently revised and greatly expanded reference book on science fiction films of the 1950s. Publisher MacFarland issued this “21st Century Edition” in February 2016. It includes a foreword by Howard Waldrop.
(5) SWAN OBIT. Patricia A. Swan of North Carolina reportedly passed away September 25 of cancer. The family posted the news on her Facebook account.
(6) LEWIS OBIT. Herschell Gordon Lewis (1929-2016): US director, died September 26, aged 87. Nicknamed the ‘Godfather of Gore’, Lewis achieved greater career success as a leading figure in the US direct marketing industry, writing more than 20 books on the subject. Entered movie-making in 1961 with a series of ‘nudie’ exploitation releases, but made his mark with Blood Feast (1963) and Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964). Later genre credits include Something Weird, A Taste of Blood and The Gruesome Twosome (all 1967), The Wizard of Gore (1970), The Gore Gore Girls (1972). He returned to directing with 2002’s Blood Feast 2, and Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Bloodmania is currently in post-production.
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY
- September 27, 1985 — CBS broadcast the first episode of the revived Twilight Zone series.
(8) TOMORROW IN HISTORY
- September 28, 2016 — 2000AD’s 2000th issue. Quite a milestone.
Comic book superstars Brian Bolland, Mick McMahon, Dave Gibbons, and Kevin O’Neill are set to return to the pages of the legendary 2000 AD for its 2,000th issue!
Europe’s longest running sci-fi action comic reaches its landmark 2,000th issue on Wednesday 28 September and some of the most prominent creators ever to grace its pages have returned for a 48-page celebration bonanza, including Bolland (Batman: The Killing Joke), McMahon (The Last American), Gibbons (Watchmen), and O’Neill (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), as well as a brand new series by Peter Milligan (X-Statix) and a poster featuring specially commissioned artwork.
(9) INKLINGS EYEWITNESS. Urbana Tolkien Conference’s Melody Green promotes a rare opportunity:
On November 5, Colin Havard, the son of Dr. Havard, one of the Inklings, will be the keynote speaker at Urbana Theological Seminary’s fifth annual Tolkien Conference held in Champaign, IL. He will be speaking on “The Inklings as I Remember Them,” in which he will be sharing his own memories of Tolkien, Lewis, etc. We will have a few other excellent speakers and interesting events, as well!
(10) CAPE V. GOWN FOR HALLOWEEN. Matthew Townsend’s article, “Superheroes Top Princesses in Halloween-Costume Battle” at Bloomberg tells that a National Retail Foundation survey predicts superhero costumes are expected to be #1 in Halloween this year with princesses second and animals third.
The popularity of costumes reflects a tug of war between Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. and Walt Disney Co., which control many of the top entertainment properties. Disney has dominated the princess trend, helped by the release of “Frozen” in 2013, and owns Marvel and Star Wars characters. But Warner Bros. is trying to develop an expanded universe of DC Comics heroes for the screen. “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” hit theaters earlier this year, followed by the Batman villain ensemble film “Suicide Squad” last month.
At stake is $3.1 billion in Halloween costume spending.
At least the kids haven’t gotten the idea of dressing like Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Now THAT would be scary.
(11) DEBATE COVERAGE. Chuck Tingle’s contributions to the world of science fiction continued last night with his live Tweeting of the first US Presidential debate. Did you know? — Chuck is another third-party candidate who couldn’t get in the door.
even though i am not allowed in tonights debate as BUCKAROO PARTY viceman i am still hoping they will address ted cobbler's devilman agenda
— Chuck Tingle (@ChuckTingle) September 26, 2016
LETS FOCUS ON THE HARD ISSUES AMERICA/ the buckaroo party has not been allowed in the presidental debate tonight but our voice will be heard pic.twitter.com/5vB0y1qsDC
— Chuck Tingle (@ChuckTingle) September 26, 2016
His running commentary about the debate has been collected on Storify.
over 30 minutes in and still no mention of Unfair Flavor Laws or Pacific Northwest Bigfoot integration, both are buckaroo party KEY ISSUES
— Chuck Tingle (@ChuckTingle) September 27, 2016
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, JJ, James Davis Nicoll, Martin Morse Wooster, Mark-kitteh, Steve Green, Carl Slaughter, Elusis, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Greg Hullender.]
Dawn, oh, yes! (I wouldn’t mind a spoiler thread here for discussions of Summer in Orcus, if it came to that….)
The Hare with the Amber Eyes is excellent, even if like me you know very little about netsuke before reading it.
(1) I’m a little confused as to why people are upset about this. I mean, basically it reads like these small dealers will have to provide a certificate stating how the autograph was obtained on their signed merchandise, and providing contact information so that if they’re found to be lying they can be tracked down and the purchaser’s money can be refunded. Why is this a bad thing?
I mean, it’s not like little bookstores or dealers at conventions are somehow so morally pure that there’s no chance that they could be forging signatures on collectibles, and they can always tack on an extra dollar or two as a “convenience fee” for the mild pain in the buttocks that having such a certificate on hand would entail. Basically, it’s a bit more bookkeeping for the honest folk and a real risk for the frauds.
@ Christian: They did that with an older theater here. Unfortunately, the bookstore was a Borders, and when that chain cratered the building ended up being converted to a Trader Joe’s. (Which is a win in my book, but some people disagree.)
@John Seavy: most signed books sell at cover price. Authors generally sign books for free, for the publicity. There are probably millions and millions of signed books in California. All of a sudden, these books cannot be sold, except at a loss. For the ones that have already been sold, used bookstores cannot buy them, because they have no way of proving the provenance. Even though they’re not charging any more than they would for an unsigned copy!
I don’t collect signatures; I have no particular interest in signed books. But I’ve got a handful that I’ve ended up with more-or-less at random. These are now basically unsellable, because I haven’t got and can’t get a certificate. These books have suddenly gone from being worth what an unsigned copy of the same book would be to being worth $5 max! (Or $2.50 to me, because no dealer is going to buy a book they can’t resell at a profit.) This law may have reduced my net worth by $50 to $200. Which I could recover in full by painting over the signatures with whiteout! That’s just ridiculous.
There is said to have been an author who, when asked by a friend to sign a book, said ‘Actually, the unsigned copies are more valuable’. (Which may now be true, I guess, even if it wasn’t before.)
@ John Seavy
If a bookseller has stock of second hand books, some of which include author signatures that were already in place at the time of acquisition, how in the world is the bookseller supposed to provide warranty of authenticity?
Another movie theater-to-bookstore conversion was Bookstop (formerly the Alambama Theater) in Houston. This was in the 80s, and I don’t know what it is now, but I remember thinking, you sure can put a lot of books into a good-sized movie theater.
(1-Flyleaf Hitting the Fan) Thanks to Greg Hullender’s link to the text of the bill, I read the whole thing, which isn’t really very long. It’s clearly still thinking about memorabilia and collectibles, even while bringing in other signed things. I would suspect that somebody in the legislature would be willing to make changes to be less onerous for, say, books.
And even if not, it seems to me that Larry Smith wouldn’t need to deal with guaranteeing authenticity if he simply didn’t put the “signed copy” stickers on the book; the legal wording doesn’t say it covers all autographed objects, but only when the dealer provides a description of that collectible as being autographed.
(1) THE FLYLEAF IS STILL HITTING THE FAN.
Greg Hullender said:
“It seems like a minor annoyance, and it means frauds are really sticking their necks out if they get caught.”
John Seavey said:
“Why is this a bad thing?”
“Basically, it’s a bit more bookkeeping for the honest folk and a real risk for the frauds.”
Please take a moment to read the letters by Scott Brown owner of Eureka Books and Bill Petrocelli co-owner, of Book Passage, Inc., written to their California legislators discussing the “Significant Unintended Consequences of AB1570” for them, and their businesses.
I feel their pain. I have purchased quite a few singed first edition books from Eureka Books over the years. They are arguably one of the Top 10 Book Stores in America today.
Clicky. Slowly recovering from a weekend more draining than anticipated.
The other question about the signed photos aspect is will vendors at San Diego who arrange for a Mark Hammil to sign at their booth (which they would be charging around $100 or more) now have to provide a certificate of authenticity as part of the deal?
For books, will publisher tip-ins or Sub Press signed limiteds now have to have a separate certificate? Good example of people marking up today is the new Springsteen biography, which yesterday did a meet and greet event when those purchasing books got a tipped in signed book (number of them done is not noted). People have them on ebay at $300 to $999 already.
Summer in Orcus nitpick (or maybe I’m just not reading carefully enough: Vs Onon Lntn vf jrnevat oynpx tybirf, ubj pna Fhzzre frr gung fur purjf ure anvyf? Qvq V zvff n qrfpevcgvba gung fnlf gurl ner svatreyrff?
Yup! From chapter one:
“Fur jnf jrnevat ybat oynpx tybirf jvgu gur svatref phg bhg bs gurz.”
Not true. The law only applied to works that are marketed as autographed. If the books are sold just as books, then there’s no problem.
I’m not a lawyer, but I can’t see requiring a certificate at author signings either; the buyer is witness to the signing, so the certificate isn’t needed.
Dawn Incognito: Thanks. I sometimes read too fast when excited by a new book.
Author Confidential, an upcoming fundraiser for the Bacon Free Library (which I comprehend is an actual thing, but must have launched a lot of great memes for booklovers). You can bid on the chance to ask an author questions. Needs more SFF writers, but still.
Lace: Some awesome participants on that list. Still, with the name Bacon on it, I’m sure John Scalzi should be involved!
Apropos of nothing at all in this thread, I have written a blog post about harassment, and the inadequacy of current ways of dealing with it.
Way back in the ’90s there was a nice big Bookstop store two blocks from my house. I practically lived there. I miss it so… 🙁
@Mike: Shouldn’t it also include Hugo-winning James Bacon?
I’d be rather surprised if there should be even six degrees of separation between them.
Even fewer if they know Jon Singer.
Did you get a certificate that they were rescued from authentic book burnings?
John Seavey on September 28, 2016 at 12:45 pm said:
I have an extensive collection of autographed books, including Once More* With Footnotes inscribed to me and signed by Terry Pratchett. At a conservative estimate it’s worth over $800. Should I end up in dire financial straits, or my estate decide to sell it, that can’t happen in California. I have no certificate of provenance. No proof I was at the 2004 WorldCon and got his autograph.
Even if I had those things, If I sell it to someone else and they want to sell it, they have to give the buyer my contact information. Hell no.
My wife bought a copy of a book owned by Andre Norton, inscribed to Norton and signed by the author CJ Cherryh. If she wants to sell it, she now has to backtrack to Norton’s estate and … what? Give out their name and address? Track down Cherryh and get a certificate that says “yes, I did sign a book for Norton once?”
I’ve got scads of autographed books I don’t even remember when or where I got them autographed. I’ve got books I bought in second hand shops that just happened to be autographed, how can I sell them?
This is a deeply flawed law.
@Greg Hullender: “The law only applied to works that are marketed as autographed. If the books are sold just as books, then there’s no problem.”
You’re putting a lot of weight on the phrase “marketed as”, with the implication that there has to be some extra effort put toward convincing the buyer that the autograph adds value, but that’s not something that appears in the law. The law says it applies as long as the seller “provides a description of that collectible as being autographed”— I don’t see any way around that unless you totally avoid mentioning that the book is signed at all, which would be a no-no in the used book trade where people want to know if this is an as-new untouched copy or what.
IANAL either, but it appears the law has room to drive a Mack truck full of lawyers through — sideways.
ISTM that most dealers, including the letter writers cited above, have a strong argument that they’re not principally in the business of selling signed items. There’s also an argument that the law as written applies only to dealers who do most of their business either in CA or in CA goods.
However, this doesn’t mean that dealers couldn’t be massively hassled by DAs demanding proof that the business either did not sell “principally” autographed material or sold primarily either in other states or goods from those states. I hope that most CA DAs aren’t as crooked as the Texas(?) DA (mentioned here recently?) who got a conviction for ~distributing-obscenity-to-minors over a graphic novel that was in a restricted section of the store. (The fact that a jury bought the argument that “comic books are for kids” was just salt in the wound; defense in a criminal case is not cheap even if a gullible jury’s stupid decision doesn’t necessitate an appeal.)
@Christian Brunschen: That looks like the most beautiful interior of a bookstore ever. I’d like to go live there!
@Dawn Incognito: There’s a reference to that story (“Your Faces, O My Sisters!…”) in one of the letters from Tiptree to Ursula Le Guin printed in the last section of Letters to Tiptree. Tiptree suggests a reading in which, rather than the post-collapse world being pure hallucination, it is real; the woman isn’t simply psychotic, she has some kind of cross-time telepathy. If you read the story that way, then it is indeed “really” SF.
@Kip W.: the Alabama Theater is the one that Lee referred to upthread, that is now a Trader Joe’s. It’s only about a mile and a half from where I live, in fact. I’m pretty sure that the bookstore was already closed when I moved to Houston in 2009.
Okay, I checked the Wikipedia article and it says that I’m wrong about that, but only by a few months. It also confirms your Bookstop over Lee’s Borders.
@Kip W: “You’re from Earth? You must know Jon Singer!”
let’s see… I saw Scalzi and Chris Garcia in the same bar during a Nebula weekend, and where there’s Garcia, is Bacon far behind?
Thank you for that information! It doesn’t exactly make the story easier to read, but it’s an interesting interpretation.
ETA: Maybe I’m hungry.