(from a customer)
“Dear John, I recently acquired an autographed copy of Dark Watch by Clive Cussler, but it was inscribed to the original owner. I know that inscribed books are usually worth much less than a regular autograph, but is there any sort of exception to this rule?” (Will, Portland)
You are correct – inscriptions typically negate the value added to a signed book, unless the inscription does not refer to a specific individual (i.e. “To Mary – “). Inscriptions of historical significance, either to the author or to the book subject, will enhance the value of the book. For example, “To Dad on Christmas – Clive Cussler.” Or, if the person it is inscribed to is equally or more famous than the author: “To John Travolta – Nelson Demille.”
While personal inscriptions are generally avoided by the collector community, upon the death of the author, or as a book becomes more scarce, such inscriptions become tolerated.