I don't have very many signed books. This is my "shelf of honor":
If you're astute you will notice that Chasing Darkness is missing. That's the book I posted about not too long ago. Also missing from this shelf is A Welcome Grave. Normally I'm a stickler about not loaning my books out...especially ones from the "shelf of honor", but they are presently with my dad and sister (*gasp*). But, I know where to find them when I want them back, and my dad and sister know they take their lives in their hands if anything bad happens to the books. ;)
All of these books were signed for me. I don't go out looking for signed books. To me a book in a bookstore or online that's already been signed is worth no more than one that hasn't been. Each of the books I have a signature in comes with a special memory. I had the great pleasure to see Kathy Reichs in person, and of course Michael Koryta. My sister took my Robert Crais books to his event in California, but his inscriptions are extremely personal - to me. It's so nice that he makes such an effort to personalize the messages. My Lisa Unger novels were prizes from her Black Out contest. Again, she inscribed each one with a nice, personal message. And my copy of The Fourth Watcher is the book that Tim Hallinan sent for me to read and review - with a nice personal inscription. These books all have a special significance for me. I didn't collect the signatures to make the books more valuable to anyone but myself. I have no intention of trying to sell them - ever. I simply value them for their unique memories.
However, that mentality must not be the predominant one. Evidently, many readers simply want a book with a signature in it. No matter how they get the signature. Otherwise this article would have no basis. I have had contact with several authors this summer, and don't believe any of them would ever resort to this. They think far more of their readers. Harlan Coben even had a blog post about the privilege of signing books.
The optimist in me is going to hope the ad was a hoax. But regardless, I'll still only pursue signatures that mean something special to me...