Books collectors are hunters of rare prey, and original signed limited edition books are always in their sights. Signed limited editions are printed in restricted quantities by the publisher, and then passed through the author's hands for a personal touch with the addition of a signature or inscription. Obviously, since only a specific number of books are printed, signed limited editions can be quite valuable - if you can find them.
There are some good reasons for printing limited editions of books. The most obvious is that it creates scarcity. Since only a certain number of copies are released to the public, the book itself becomes instantly more attractive than another text printed without amount limits. Restricting the number of books also protects the publisher from financial loss if the book fails to sell well. This is especially true in the modern publishing environment, where a growing number of authors are competing for a shrinking number of readers.
Original limited editions can be difficult to come by. Antique or vintage texts were often handwritten or had a very limited print run. For example, the Codex Leicester, handwritten by Leonardo da Vinci and purchased by the Earl of Leicester in the early 1700s, is the only one of its kind (Bill Gates bought it for more than \$30 million in 1994). Da Vinci aside, there are certainly a good number of signed limited editions available to the average collector. For example, a first New American Library edition of sci-fi king, Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey is a popular collectible item, or for those who prefer a softer touch, signed copies from modern romance storyteller, Nora Roberts, abound. Edward Arlington Robinson's first edition of Tristram had an early run of only 350 copies; this signed limited edition was actually numbered. Buy signed limited editions for a unique way of building a personalized collection of entrancing stories with exciting provenance.