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California, really? AB1570 Collectibles: Sale of Autographed Memorabilia

Easton Press Collectors

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Sep 27, 2016, 7:56pm Top


"The law requires dealers in any autographed material to provide certificates of authenticity (COA) for any signed item sold for $5 or more."

"The COA has to:
Describe the collectible and specify the name of the personality who autographed it.
Either specify the purchase price and date of sale or be accompanied by a separate invoice setting forth that information.
Indicate whether the item was autographed in the presence of the dealer and specify the date and location of, and the name of a witness to, the autograph signing.
Indicate whether the item was obtained or purchased from a third party. If so, indicate the name and address of this third party."

I think EP actually already does all that, but if you're a bookseller trying to sell an LEC or other such books, or have a local writer sign something... ugh! I mean, if someone on here decides to sell a signed EP book to someone in Califronia, and that EP does not include the certificate, what happens then?

Sep 27, 2016, 8:10pm Top

Read about this earlier today. I think the law only applies to someone selling out of CA. The only good thing is that I believe anything sold on eBay is exempt from the rule. Really, it's very unfortunate for anyone living in CA.

Sep 27, 2016, 8:38pm Top

>2 Eastoner: Correction, unfortunate for anyone living in CA that sells signed products.

I didn't believe this post until I looked up the law. Overgeneralized an existing law on selling sports memorabilia. Don't understand why the ABAA didn't catch on to this bill sooner.

Sep 27, 2016, 9:26pm Top

Our only hope is that continental drift separates California from the mainland...

Edited: Sep 27, 2016, 11:50pm Top

The largest bookseller here in Tulsa won't buy any autographed books without a letter from an appraiser guaranteeing authenticity, which of course is impossible to get at a standard book signing event. It is not a law here, but the dealer is afraid of liability in case someone later claims the signature is forged. Although an inconvenience to the book's owner, I understand the issue. How can we or a later purchaser be sure that any signed book is genuine unless it is guaranteed by a certificate or a colophon page bound into the book?

Sep 28, 2016, 11:57am Top

Seriously though, if you can forge an autographed book, how hard is it to forge a CoA :/

4: hmmm, I vaguely recall hearing people make that same claim but for different reasons :P

Edited: Sep 28, 2016, 12:27pm Top

>6 astropi: "Seriously though, if you can forge an autographed book, how hard is it to forge a CoA."

You're right, which is why I don't collect autographs. Experts argue endlessly about the "genuineness" of expensive works of art, because it is impossible to tell for sure. Forgeries are too easy to do.

EP's signed editions with the signature pages sewn into the book should be as safe as you can get, and so should any other signed limited edition guaranteed by the publisher in a similar manner. (The COA is meaningless.) Books signed by the authors in front of you at your local Barnes & Noble are nice keepsakes for yourself, but you would never be able to prove to anyone else that the signatures are genuine. Copies claimed to be signed that are sold by any reseller, though, should be viewed skeptically.

Sep 28, 2016, 1:39pm Top

>7 jroger1: Most EP signature pages are tipped in not sewn. If you get the author to sign it for you at the bookstore, it is signed on a regularly bound page (sewn or glued depending on the book). I often go to author events (I like hearing the author read from their own book) and then have them personalize the signature. Since my wife and I are not famous, this request substantially lowers the value of the signature but the book means more to us.

Edited: Sep 28, 2016, 2:59pm Top

>8 kdweber:
That is an excellent idea for author events. I hadn't noticed that EP's signature pages are tipped in. You or I could do that ourselves after a little practice with the signatures. Many of the books specify "Signed Edition" on the spine, though.

Sep 29, 2016, 12:23am Top

EP and other such signed editions (such as LEC) is really about the only way you can guarantee the authenticity of a signature. There are people who are "experts" at signatures, but it's amazing what forgers can get away with -and this is primarily a problem in the classical art world as has been stated


Dec 29, 2016, 8:02pm Top

I'm wondering if this is related to all of Easton's books saying:

Sorry, this product cannot ship to California.

Edited: Dec 29, 2016, 8:45pm Top

>11 Wootle: I was just checking out the website and it seems to be only on the product listing pages of any signed edition, so you're probably correct. This really is awful especially for anyone living in California. I haven't read the law and I imagine it goes into effect the 1st of the year so that is probably why it is starting to appear on their website, but I would've thought that EP would've been okay since they do provide a certificate of authenticity.

Dec 29, 2016, 9:55pm Top

>12 Eastoner:
The law seems to require that the COA specify the name, date, and location of a witness to the signing. Perhaps this clause was intended to ensure that the author's secretary or assistant didn't sign the pages or that they weren't signed by autopen. Such practices are common for presidents and perhaps also for lesser souls.

Dec 29, 2016, 11:43pm Top

From my experiences, the COA's are copies. I've had several copies of a couple of titles and compared the COA's, they were absolutely identical. The actual signature pages I believe are genuine, as they were different. Of course as you said, some more famous authors could be auto-penned as I haven't compared multiple copies of presidential tomes. Unless something has changed in the last couple of years, I assume they are still the same.

I thought the way the law was written, it effected sellers in California, not sellers shipping to California. Guess I'll give it another read when time permits.

Dec 30, 2016, 12:40am Top

Absolutely the CoAs are copies. I really don't see a point to them to be honest. The signature page is the author's genuine signature, and I don't think you need more than that.

Edited: Dec 30, 2016, 11:08am Top

Wow, this is a very, very poor law if even publishers of books with bound in signatures are impacted. So, is the selling of signed books in used bookstores or via Ebay now illegal in California?

Went back and read the analysis in the first post link. The answer would be, it depends. Are you a used book seller? Then yes, you need a COA. A pawn shop? No. An individual who just sells a lot of books? Who knows?

The point made about honest businesses having their COA forged, used by a crook, then getting sued is valid. So is the fear of being sued by lawyers out to make money because they technically break the law even if there is no real victim. See recent news articles on lawyers doing so over ADA compliance.

Scenario. One purchases a signed book, with COA andall that jazz from a used book store. One practices the signature. Gets a non signed book that is the same edition, printing, condition,etc. One then signs it, or has an accomplice do the signing. The signature will be close but poor. Then one sues the original book seller for selling a forgery.

How does any COA stay attached to any particular book?

Perhaps booksellers will adopt the practice of adding secret marks to such books to protect them selves. An invisible ink mark under the 24th letter of page 19 perhaps?

Bad, bad bad.

After reading this Seattle post claiming that the law will not apply to book sellers


And Eureka Books response


And their far more detailed analysis


And realizing that the laws are not interpreted based on their good intentions, but rather on their words as evidenced here


I am inclined toward Eureka's and Easton Press's point of view that there is significant risk involved in selling signed books in California with the law as currently written. Perhaps the California legislature will address this in the future.

Should a business owner accept the risk as itis worded today?

Edited: Dec 30, 2016, 9:37pm Top

This only hurts the core who like to collect signed books. The EP books should be ok, not sure why they are not shipping to CA. The signed books note that on the spine, the signed page, and a cert. Why do CA citizens put up with this? Personally I would get a large PO Box out of the state of CA and if then if they even think about trying to collect sales tax on out of state purchases...tell them exactly where to go at that point.

Dec 30, 2016, 10:48pm Top

>17 cu29640:
This is a business opportunity! Offer yourself as a remailing service.

Dec 31, 2016, 4:14pm Top

At this point, ~80% of the EP books I buy are signed. Looks like no more EP books for me. I don't see why EP just doesn't offer CA buyers the option of checking a disclaimer that they don't guarantee the book is signed or that the book has been defaced or some such nonsense. Little risk for the CA buyer since EP will take a return of the book for any reason.

Dec 31, 2016, 4:39pm Top

I suspect that the law will be rescinded or revised after thousands (hundreds?) of EP customers complain that they can't buy/sell EP books anymore, including some California legislators and their families.

Edited: Dec 31, 2016, 6:59pm Top

19: because you can't just circumvent a law with a disclaimer. Also EP does guarantee the signature. No reason for them to lie because of a stupid law.

Dec 31, 2016, 5:25pm Top

Puzzling why anything with a signature is not allowed in California with or without a certificate. If the item can be authenticated by a reputable company, it should be accepted as genuine.

Dec 31, 2016, 10:30pm Top

Many signed products will be banned yet the signature is just a part of the item and isn't being boasted as a valuable rare signature. What about any number if signed art prints for non valuable art. Or a photographer who signs his work and frames it for someone.

Jan 1, 9:03pm Top

> 16 "Perhaps booksellers will adopt the practice of adding secret marks to such books to protect them selves. An invisible ink mark under the 24th letter of page 19 perhaps?"

Since a great number of readers go to signings to get books personally signed by authors in person, this approach would be irrelevant.

> 19

If EP provided a disclaimer option just to placate Californian law it would diminish the value and integrity of the product for all sales outside of California. By providing such a disclaimer, EP would essentially be stating that the signature isn't guaranteed anywhere, not just in California.

I think EP's approach is the correct one. If California's citizens permit this law to exist then it will be their own collective fault that they can no longer purchased signed books. California should take responsibility for its lawmaking and either publicly clarify the explicit purpose(s) of this new law to show how it actually benefits its citizens, or strike it from the books completely and pretend it never happened. If other book sellers follow EP's example of removing California from the market, I should think Californians will get upset and remedy the situation pretty quickly.

If not, then maybe California's lawmakers' next step will be to ban paper? Ink?

Jan 1, 9:23pm Top

24: haha! Honestly, I wouldn't put it past them to ban ink.

Jan 1, 9:39pm Top

Oh, I hope Governor Moonbeam had nothing to do with this idiotic law, aside from signing it. -But at least we can assume his signature is genuine, if there were witnesses present when he signed it :-O

Jan 1, 11:39pm Top

>26 iluvbeckett: Must have been doing something right to be elected governor 4 times.

Jan 2, 12:34am Top

The art world is equally concerned about the new law:

"Although it is unclear how courts will enforce this new law, it is certainly safer to start producing certificates of authenticity for all artwork dealers plan on advertising as signed. Because of AB 1570’s detailed requirements for the certificate, dealers should familiarize themselves with all the information that needs to be provided. To avoid executing a false certificate, dealers should also attempt to verify the authenticity of the signatures on artwork.

Additionally, art dealers now need to be more careful on what they market as “signed” artwork. Even though plate signing or a stamp of the artist’s signature might be considered “signed” in the marketplace, AB 1570 only considers hand-signed signatures as legitimate.

To avoid privacy suits, when purchasing signed artwork from private party sellers, dealers should warn the seller that their contact information will be posted on a future certificate of authenticity.

However, AB 1570 limits the rule to instances where the dealer “provides a description of that collectible as being autographed.” Technically then, dealers would not be required to provide a certificate of authenticity if they do not market the artwork as autographed/signed. Thus, art dealers could choose to merely not advertise the artwork as signed if doing so would not significantly increase the artwork’s desirability."


Jan 2, 5:54pm Top

I feel the law was meant more for art than books. If I recall correctly, the art world is rife with fakes and "signed prints" and who knows what the heck that means.

Jan 3, 10:58pm Top

> 29

That could very well be but why should lazy lawmaking be allowed to punish other markets, like books, if it was intended to contain issues in the art market?

Jan 3, 11:13pm Top

On a related note, I'm still miffed with California over its CARB lawmaking that, while limited to California, it effectively forced the rest of the country to comply with it. So now, instead of being able to buy simple, practical, functional gasoline canisters the way they've been made for decades, now all you can buy is the CARB-compliant canisters. I've spilled more gas with just one of those things than I ever did with the older style...

Jan 4, 7:41am Top

>31 treereader:
I am so glad I'm not the only person who knows about this! I hate those new spouts so much and I also find that they spill way more gas than the original ones.

Jan 26, 6:22am Top

The current Easton Press certificates do not comply with the California law, which requires that the COA have an identifying serial number and also requires this number to be on the sales receipt.

Jan 26, 9:15am Top

33: Yup, which is why any EP book that is signed will not be shipped to California.

Jan 26, 10:56pm Top

From what I have read about the intent of the law, it was aimed at celebrity/sports autograph marketing. Mark Hamill was a major backer. I do not think that the impact on the art/book world received any consideration.

Jan 27, 12:03am Top

California Assembly member Todd Gloria (D-78) just introduced AB 228 which, if passed, will significantly amend AB 1570. Fingers crossed.

Jan 27, 12:22pm Top

Glory be to Gloria!!

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