Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sign my Kindle, please! -- E-autographs in the future

As paper 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 New York publishing industry 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 ebook firm: "A photo could be a good ‘take away’ for
the reader, and for us, since it can be sent out on social media ad 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".

Say again?

"It's 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 a friend after thinking
about how many people now own Kindles 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 not 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.

LINK
http://publishingperspectives.com/2010/11/open-road-authography-solutions-to-personalizing-e-books

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Ed Nawotka is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives, an online magazine for the international publishing industry that has been called “the BBC of the book world.”

Prior to launching Publishing Perspectives, he worked as book columnist for Bloomberg News and daily news editor of Publishers Weekly.

He has also served as the literary director of the Texas Book Festival, a judge for various book awards, and has worked as a foreign correspondent, a bookseller, literary magazine editor and advertising copywriter.

As a journalist he has reported from more than 30 countries. He continues to be a widely published freelance writer, with his work regularly appearing in publications across the United States, as well as overseas.

Ed’s reviews, essays and reporting have appeared in The New Yorker, The International Herald Tribune, The Guardian, Travel + Leisure, Los Angeles Times, Budget Travel, New Statesman, USA Today, and People, among others.

He has appeared as a guest on various television and radio programs, including those on NPR, PRI, BBC, and C-SPAN, and has lectured at numerous universities and institutions.

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