In his famous essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” (1935) Walter Benjamin describes the “aura” that exists around a work of art that hasn’t been mechanically reproduced (i.e. printed off on a printing press, copied onto a DVD, etc.). The aura, he says, is the element of the work that can’t be replicated outside of its definite location in time and space, giving a ritualistic, almost mystical element that changes the way that we engage with it. This, it seems, in a nutshell, is why we like signed books, and why we often treat them as precious objects of almost totemic significance. After all, you can get the text of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) off the internet and print out as many copies as you want, but a signed edition can’t be copied in the same way. If it gets damaged or destroyed, there’s no way of replacing it in the world.