There is a discussion going on at one of the comics-related message boards about the cost of getting an autograph at a convention. Specifically, Adam West, who played Batman on TV in the 1960s, will be one of the guests at the Big Apple Convention in New York next weekend and a few of the folks were discussing what the charge would be. One person mentioned that he had gotten West to autograph a TV Guide some years back and it cost $25. Another responded that at more recent show, the charge was $50.
Such a practice is not new; it seems to be standard operating procedure at card shows when professional ballplayers are the guests and is becoming more common at comic book shows as well, particularly where movie and TV celebrities are involved. But is it justified?
On one hand, there are people who get books, photos. etc. autographed and immediately offer them for sale at a premium price. If it is my signature that is responsible for someone paying more, shouldn't I be entitled to a share of it?
On the other hand, if an individual buys something I've written and has no intention of selling it, why wouldn't I sign it for free? If it's a book, I presumably have a royalty deal and will get a percentage for every copy sold. If it's a comic book, I've been paid to write the script and the more people who buy it, the more likely it would be that the magazine would continue to be published.
Granted that Adam West is not making any money off an old issue of TV Guide, but the show promoters are presumably paying him something to appear, along with his expenses. Those promoters make their money from the admission they charge and one big way they attract more paying attendees is with the guests they line up.
If I am a dealer in collectibles and I want to make money on someone else's celebrity, I should be willing to share the profits and pay that person for each and every signature.
But if I am a fan of Adam West and am willing to pay $25 or more to get into the convention to see him, why should I then have to pay another $50 to have him autograph something for me?