The Signature Page (aka Limitation Sheet)
And Its Importance

Introduction
What Is It?
Examples
Why Is It Important?
Temptations to Avoid
A Vitriolic Rant Against Bookplates
Kickstarter Hall of Fame
Closing Thoughts

 

I N T R O D U C T I O N

I've supported a variety of Kickstarter campaigns, such as Birds of Lore, The Incognito Project, and Next Town Over Volume 1: Maybe Next Time. For those unaware, Kickstarter is a crowdfunding site which allows people to realize their dream projects without having to go through the onerous, and often impossible, task of seeking venture capitalist backing via traditional means. For instance, if I had a book of prose or illustrations I wanted published, but didn't have the resources to go about getting it sponsored by a major company, I could turn to Kickstarter to gather the necessary funds for getting said book produced on my own by way of (mostly) direct monetary contributions from interested individuals.

Kickstarter also offers a unique opportunity for unfettered interaction between project creators and backers, which is typically not possible when an author has publicity agents and/or a large corporation acting as a shield between him or her and their reader base. Indeed, it is not uncommon for campaign initiators to solicit opinions and advice on what to include with their offerings. While Kickstarter does not reveal personal addresses, their site allows curious parties to email creators without those messages being filtered (and often lost or outright deleted) by the bureaucratic machine of a sizable company.

Because of these two uncommon and highly innovative circumstances, I've been in contact with numerous artists urging them to include signature sheets with their publications. These productions are, by their very nature, relatively scarce commodities since they rely solely on individual contributions and not corporate financing. Even the most successful of projects usually only result in a few hundred units seeing the light of day. Plus, the vast majority of these books are not offered in stores or e-tailers like Amazon, but are sold by the authors and artists themselves. Ergo, it is only natural to regard them for what they are - limited-editions (LEs).

As readers of this site are aware, I am rather passionate about what constitutes an LE. Such a production may include features unique to that state, such as ribbon markers, special endpapers, gilt, and the like. However, there is one element that, IMO, is a core and fundamental inclusion which boldly and unequivocally brands a publication as an LE - the limitation (or signature) page.

 

W H A T   I S   I T?

A signature page is a bound- or tipped-in sheet that is usually part of a book's front matter. It is often inserted between the flyleaf and the the half-title page. If it is tipped-in, then it has been added after the base manufacturing process has been completed by gluing it to a blank page. This is not ideal, though, as outlined below. The far superior method is the bound-in one in which the page is just like any other and is native to the book itself (i.e., part of its signatures).

Sometimes, this page is provided as a laid-in element, such as a certificate of authenticity (CoA). However, this is a very unwise method, since laid-in additions can become separated from their parent productions and lost forever. Including a bound-in signature page ensures that it will remain with the book in perpetuity.

So, what exactly does this page contain? Variations exist, but at its heart this sheet should include the following:

 

E X A M P L E S

Click on any of the below thumbnails for real-life examples of signature pages from a variety of different publishers (these are in no particular order).

Ankh - 34 painted images of the Death character sketchbook by Felipe Echevarria (s/n of 800).

The Art of Amy Brown by Chimera Publishing (s/n of 750).

Sled Driver - Flying the World's Fastest Jet by unknown (s/n of 5,000).

The World of Beretta by Random House (s/n of 1,000).

The Windup Girl by Subterranean Press (s/n of 500).

The Talisman by Donald M. Grant (s/n of 1,200).

Waging Heavy Peace by Blue Rider Press (s/n of 1,500).

Dreamthorp by Dark Harvest Books (s/n of 400).

Twelve Mile Limit by James Cahill Publishing (s/n of 600).

The Bear and the Dragon by Putnam (s/n of 425).

What Dreams May Come - 20th Anniversary Edition by Gauntlet Press (lettered edition of 52).

Someplace Strange by Graphitti Designs (s/n of 1,200).

The First Rule by The Mysterious Bookshop (s/n of 100).

Carmilla: The Evil Guest by Full Moon Press (s/n of 350).

Insomnia by Mark V. Ziesing Books (s/n of 1,250).

Hellboy: Seed of Destruction by Dark Horse Comics (s/n of 1,000).

Superheroes: Joe Kubert's Wonderful World of Comics by Watson-Guptill Publications, Incorporated (s/n of 1,500).

The Art of George Perez by IDW/Desperado (s/n of 400).

Eric Fischl - Essay by Peter Schjeldahl by Art in America (s/n of 150 with colophon).

Weaveworld by Collins UK (s/n of 500).

Taltos by B.E. Trice (s/n of 500).

Polar Shift by Norwood Press (lettered edition of 52).

The Dynamite Art of Alex Ross by Dynamite Entertainment (s/n of 76).

The Ken Duncan Collection by Ken Duncan Galleries (s/n of 1,000).

Blockade Billy by Lonely Road Books (lettered edition of 52).

Full Dark, No Stars by Cemetery Dance (lettered edition of 52).

The New Neighbor by Charnel House (s/n of 500).

Borderlands 2 by Borderlands Press (s/n of 750).

The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick by Underwood Miller (s/n of 100).

Return of the Enola Gay by Mid Coast Marketing (s/n of 1,500).

Traces by Bear Wallow Publishing Company (s/n of 1,500).

Skin Tight Orbit by NBM Publishing Company (s/n of 500).

Animalia by Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers (s/n of 5,000).

People One Knows by Lord John Press (s/n of 300 with colophon).

Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Flesk Publications (s/n of 600).

The Martian Chronicles by Avon's The Limited Editions Club (s/n of 2,000).

Comic Book Rebels by Underwood Books (s/n of 750).

The J.C. Leyendecker Collection by Collectors Press (s/n of 750).

The Sisterhood of Steel by Eclipse Books (s/n of 800).

Images of the Civil War by Mort Künstler (s/n of 5,000).

Wind Knots and Near Misses by The Amwell Press (s/n of 1,000).

He Shall Thunder in the Sky: An Amelia Peabody Mystery by Avon Books (s/n of 2,500).

Magic for Beginners by Thomson-Shore (s/n of 150 with colophon).

The Art of Natural History by The Overlook Press (s/n of 500).

Ask Me Again Tomorrow by The Easton Press (s/n of 1,150).

Music From Spain by The Levee Press (s/n of 775).

Anima Mundi by Porterhouse Fine Art Editions (s/n of 500).

The Last Juror by Doubleday (s/n of 350).

Acts of Violence by Macmillan New Writing (s/n of 250).

LEROY GRANNIS - Surf Photography of the 1960's and 1970's by Taschen (s/n of 1,000).

Note that this page does NOT have to be impossibly complex and ornate. Many of the above examples use only text with a graphic or two. A signature sheet can be highly minimalistic or jam-packed with eye candy. What's important is that it needs to exist and be a part of any LE production.

 

W H Y   I S   I T   I M P O R T A N T ?

So, now you know what a limitation page displays, but why is its presence beneficial and even essential? For several reasons, including, but not limited to, the following:

The signature sheet announces to the world that an LE is, indeed, limited and should be treated commensurately. Without it, an LE is lacking a critical production aspect. Perhaps most damaging, the omission of a limitation page cripples the entire production as a whole by rendering the publication incomplete and wanting.

 

T E M P T A T I O N S   T O   A V O I D

There are several temptations one can fall into if a signature page looks to be difficult to add. These are best avoided if at all possible, as they come off as cheap and quick:

 

A   V I T R I O L I C   R A N T   A G A I N S T   B O O K P L A T E S

I really hate bookplates. There's nothing worse than a job that looks half-assed and that's what a bookplate screams about the final presentation of your chosen material. Think about it - why would someone in their right mind be happy with something that they could do themselves after a short and inexpensive trip to a local Office Depot and with any ordinary printer? It's absurd to think a bookplate is a worthy addition to any production when there are FAR better alternatives (albeit, more expensive).

People buy artistic items (like fine books) because they offer something that ordinary Jills and Joes are unable to conceive, much less execute, but can still admire, appreciate, and cherish. How valuable would books be - or anything, for that matter - if they could be cobbled together in anyone's garage or basement? Fortunately or unfortunately, they can't. It takes highly specialized tools, manufacturing techniques, materials, business connections, staff, and extensive know-how to produce a book that is both pleasing to the eye and sensual to the hand. Why, then, would you sabotage a title that you've carefully shepherded by slapping something in as amateurish as a bookplate?

This isn't to say ALL bookplates negatively affect the presentation of a book. Bud's Art Books (formerly Bud Plant) is a prime example of a reseller who utilizes bookplates advantageously. They select a book that was never signed or numbered when commissioned (often years old), fashion an attractive bookplate, and have people associated with the book's production sign said plate. It's a value-added enhancement when no other signature option was made available at the time of the book's publication.

However, Bud is a curious exception to the rule. This rant is about books currently in the planning and design phase, or those titles that should've (and could've) been magnificent in design, but opted for the low road, instead. These publishers have the ability and ample time to either make their presentations appear professional, intelligent, and desirable or quick, cheap, and disposable. While this is entirely their decision, remember that you, the aficionado, possess the ultimate voting tools - your voice and your wallet.

 


H A L L   O F   F A M E

Featured here are graphic novels and artbooks which originated on Kickstarter and, either on their own or through my rather irresistible charm and persuasion, included signature pages. My thanks to those project creators who were enthusiastic to the idea of a limitation sheet and made it an indelible addition to their LEs. The ones that are highlighted in dark blue I have received. The others are still in production, so I don't know their limitation. I'll update this section as these books arrive.

Birds of Lore

  • July 20 - September 3, 2012
  • S/N of 250

The Incognito Project

  • August 13 - September 3, 2012
  • S/N of 500

The Art of Brom

  • August 21 - October 5, 2012
  • S/N of 500

The Red Queen of Oz - A Graphic Novel Project

  • September 17 -October 17, 2012
  • S/N of ?

Next Town Over Volume 1: Maybe Next Time

  • December 6, 2012 - January 5, 2013
  • S/N of 500

The Toy Maker's Magnum Opus - Act 1

  • February 12 - March 29, 2013
  • S/N of 150

The Art of Mark Schultz: Carbon & Xenozoic

  • April 11 - May 11, 2013
  • S/N of 600 & S/N of 500

SYMBIOSIS: A Creative Commons Artbook

  • February 19 - March 21, 2013
  • S/N of ?

Harry Palmer: Starstruck - or "Old Proldiers Never Die"

  • April 2 - May 2, 2013
  • S/N of ?

The Artwork of Michael Divine

  • April 16 - May 26, 2013
  • S/N of 750 & lettered edition of 26

The Leaning Girl: a story from the Obscure Cities

  • May 20 - July 6, 2013
  • S/N of 500

Making Magic: The Art of Gary A. Lippincott

  • June 7 - July 7, 2013
  • S/N of ?

The Guns of Shadow Valley

  • June 14 - July 15, 2013
  • S/N of 1,000

mike henry's PINK HAIR GIRLS

  • June 27 - July 27, 2013
  • S/N of 1,000

Dreamkeepers Prelude Collection 1

  • July 1 - July 31, 2013
  • Signed of 500 (unserialized)

The Charmed Realm - English Language Edition

  • July 25 - August 30, 2013
  • S/N of 500

The Dead Roots Comic Anthology

  • September 30 - October 31, 2013
  • S/N of 300

Modo: Ember's End - Hardcover Graphic Novel

  • October 15 - November 13, 2013
  • S/N of 2,000

Hollywood is Dead

  • October 31 - November 29, 2013
  • S/N of ? & lettered edition of 26

Weapon Brown - The Funny Pages...Weaponized!

  • November 1 - November 30, 2013
  • S/N of 1,000

Drawing Beautiful Women - The Frank Cho Method

  • November 29, 2013 - January 3, 2014
  • S/N of 1,000

Storykiller

  • January 21 - February 20, 2014
  • S/N of 1,300

365 - 2013: A Diary of People

  • January 27 - February 28, 2014
  • S/N of 60

Sticky Note Portraits

  • September 7 - October 5, 2014
  • S/N of 50

Awakening: The Art of Michael C. Hayes Volume Two

  • January 29 - March 2, 2014
  • S/N of 90

hj story: Little Book with Lots of Love Vol. 1 & 2

  • February 5 - March 12, 2014
  • S/N of 1,000

Dragon Slayer: The Collected Edition

  • May 1 - June 1, 2014
  • S/N of 115

The Art of Ralph McQuarrie: ARCHIVES Art Book

  • June 13 - July 13, 2014
  • S/N of 450

Walter Baumhofer by David Saunders

  • June 24 - July 24, 2014
  • S/N of 100

Art book & New Comic

  • September 8 - October 8, 2014
  • S/N of 1,000

The Golden Age

  • October 23 - November 20, 2014
  • S/N of 100

The Hunting Accident Graphic Novel

  • November 19, 2014 - January 1, 2015
  • S/N of 500

The Book of Giants

  • December 1, 2014 - January 2, 2015
  • S/N of 500

HJ-Story Vol. 1, 2 and NOW 3!

  • January 16 - February 15, 2015
  • S/N of 1,000

The Golden Age - Volume 2

  • January 22 - February 21, 2015
  • S/N of 100

Tribes of Kai by Daren Bader and Lance HaunRogue

  • March 11 - April 10, 2015
  • S/N of 500

Nightmares & Visions - A New Artbook

  • March 20 - April 19, 2015
  • S/N of 1,500

The Wormworld Saga Book Edition - Volume 2

  • April 12 - May 12, 2015
  • S/N of 500

Airship Enterprise ★ OGN Vol 1 .

  • April 13 - May 16, 2015
  • S/N of ?

THE DRAWINGS OF BOB PEAK

  • April 19 - June 8, 2015
  • S/N of 50

The Complete Elmore Volume II: Black & White

  • May 7 - June 11, 2015
  • S/N of ?

Cthulhu - The Art of Richard Luong

  • June 16 - July 16, 2015
  • S/N of ?

Ladies of Kirk

  • August 10 - August 29, 2015
  • S/N of ?

Dan LuVisi's POPPED CULTURE

  • November 1 - December 1, 2015
  • S/N of ?

Exodus: The Art of Michael C. Hayes Volume Three

  • February 4 - February 29, 2016
  • S/N of ?

KARIBA: The Graphic Novel

  • March 1 - March 31, 2016
  • S/N of ?

FATHOMS: The Art of Michael Manomivibul

  • March 15 - April 15, 2016
  • S/N of ?

Descants & Cadences, an Art Book by Stephanie Law

  • April 14 - May 12, 2016
  • S/N of ?

CELTIC FAERIES - Deluxe Edition Book by Jean-Baptiste MONGE

  • May 10 - June 11, 2016
  • S/N of ?

Joshua Hoffine Horror Photography Book

  • May 26 - June 25, 2016
  • S/N of ?
   

 

C L O S I N G   T H O U G H T S

In short, if you're going to produce an LE, then it ought to come with the hallmarks associated with one. The signature sheet should be a critical and required enhancing element permanently attached to the LE. To do anything else is to deprive purchasers of a highly desired (and needed) feature which also greatly helps to certify a book as an LE. Depending on your ambitions, they are eminently feasible to design and include with any publication. Have a serious discussion with your printer about the costs involved. If the quote received is too expensive, then try shopping the book around to other manufacturers. If all else fails and there is absolutely no recourse, then a pasted-in bookplate can be added as a last resort. However, if at all possible, provide your customers with a genuine and unmistakable bound-in limitation page.