What signing pen to use when you are signing a book.

My husband can go in and out of an office supply store in 5 minutes. Not me. Yesterday I had the luxury of time, and I walked all the aisles, lingering. I did have a list: printer inkers, storage boxes (for packing away Mistress of the Sun notes), stick-on dots (for coding the research books on my shelves), but most importantly, a signing pen to use when signing my books.

When my first book was published, my husband gave me a beautiful Waterman fountain pen, which I treasure. But it proved challenging to use as a signing pen: it sometimes blotched, stained my fingers, and it could leak in-flight. Also, and most importantly, I had to carefully blot the signed title page before closing the book. In the beginning, when I had only few books to sign, I welcomed a time-consuming process. Now, when I’m signing as many as 40 books, I need to be more efficient.

What to look for in a signing pen

Recently, I stopped into a Chapters/Indigo store in Toronto, and offered to sign my books. I did not have a pen with me, and I was quickly offered a Sharpie. Well. Not that elegant, but— “They don’t blot,” the clerk told me. “Which is why we use them.” The other nice thing about a felt-tip marker, I later thought, is that you are given notice when it’s drying up—not like a fountain or ball-point pen that can quit mid-signature. Making a mess in a $30 book is not a good thing.

So I lingered long at the felt-tip marker section. It wasn’t an independent office supply store—the wonderful type of store where you can test the pens on a scrap of paper provided—so I purchased a selection, and headed north, to Petawawa Stables, where I had my horse to visit … and a book to sign.

I’ve known Dawn and her mother Yvonne since before I began writing Mistress of the Sun. I used to take riding lessons there, and my horse, Finnegan, is wonderfully looked after there during the winter.

I was delighted to sign Yvonne’s book, a gift to her from Dawn. I had tested the markers in the car: the Sharpies, a medium tip, were too fat—a fine-point would be a better choice—but the blue Staedtler (1.0 Medium) worked quite nicely … if only I didn’t have to buy a set of eight in assorted colors to get that one blue.

I’ll be in New York soon, with time, I hope, for one of my favorite past-times: lingering in the aisles of an office supply store.

Afternote: I will have more to report on picking out a signing pen soon. Stay posted. 

Photo: Finnegan and me, taken by Dawn Townshend at Petawawa Stables.