As paper, if we are to believe the hype, and we shouldn’t, gives way to pixel more and more, and paper books are replaced by e-books, how are bestselling authors going to give those time-honored fanboy memories called “autographs”?
It’s a question that quite a few writers, publishers and e-bookstore owners have been grappling with as the Screen Age replaces Mr Paper.
As U.S. publishing observer Edward Nawotka notes: “E-books, for all their utility, currently lack one particular feature: the ability to get them signed by an author.”
Nawotka says that strategies are currently emerging that offer options to fans who want their e books ”personalized” by famous authors — and for bookstores and websites e-hosting e-author e-events.
One option is to arrange to have e-authors at “signing” events pose with fans who buy their ebooks and then upload the photos to the person’s phone or blog.
It’s possible, but not certain, that with a posed photo, “signatures” will become less and less important, according to industry observers. Says one savvy PR person for an e-book firm: “A photo could be a good ‘take away’ for the reader, and for us, since it can be sent out on social media and it becomes part of our event photos.”
So the book tour is not dead. It’s just turning over a new leaf, er, page.
In addiition to the author posing with his or her admiring reader, it will also be possible to ”personalize” the already-personal photo by ”signing it” using advanced screen-writing technology.
Enter Tom Waters, stage right. He has, according to Nawotka, come up with a brainchild of a brainstormed idea and he calls it “autography”.
“It’s a computer application that allows writers using a stylus to sign a blank page which is then delivered via e-mail and can then be inserted behind the title page of almost any e-book,” according to Nawotka. “Autography has initially been developed as a iPad app which works with the iBookstore, although Waters says the final service will be device and format agnostic.”
Waters said he developed the software with an old college friend after thinking about how many people now own Kindles and nooks and can download books directly and might want an ebook signed someday by the author. His friend just happened to be an IT contractor with NASA and the rest is history, er, autogrpahy.
The ramifications of all this are enormous, of course. Publishers of e-books — and online bookstore amazons like Amazon and Barnes & Noble — could use these new ways of “signing” books not only for public appearances and book tours, but also to store information about who is reading what and why.
Then again, it might become a huge privacy issue as well.
So get your signed copies of books on paper while you can. The e-book train has already left the station, with Kindle serving as the friendly conductor, and there aint no turning back now.
Question is: will electronically-signed e-books go up in value on the resale market after an author dies? Brave new world, indeed.