An association copy is any copy of a book that bears some connection, often personal, to either its author or someone associated with its author, whether directly or through ownership by either them or someone associated with its content. Such copies have greater value in book collections as evidence of association can be provided in the written notes attached.
Most valuable copies belong to either their author or someone closely affiliated with them, such as family, friend, editor, etc. They often bear personal inscriptions by themselves or those they gave them to – these books often become part of working libraries of authors themselves or are passed down through families.
Two primary categories of Association Copies are those directly owned or read by the author and copies with indirect associations. An instance of direct ownership would involve reading one owned by the author. Meanwhile, indirect copies might belong to someone close to the author, such as a family member or friend.
What constitutes an association copy depends entirely upon its collector or dealer; some collectors and dealers only want copies with solid connections to an author or book, whereas others may welcome any connection, however tenuous.
No matter if it’s first edition or subsequent printings, Association Copies remain a valuable addition to any library or collector. Indeed, for serious collectors, an Association Copy can often represent their Holy Grail!