What happens to the author inscription in the digital age? The problem hadn’t really occurred to me until this morning, when I was emailing a friend who will probably buy my book on one electronic platform or another. I was about to suggest he come to the book party — so I could sign his book — when the logistical problem presented itself. How? Will signed books eventually seem as quaint as a hand-written Declaration of Indepedence or the once state-of-the-art IBM Selectric?

I’m not the first person to have wondered this, but there’s still not much written about it on the web. Ami Greco suggests that maybe people attending a bookstore reading be given a recorded copy of the event to take home. Brad’s Reader suggests that ebooks be bundled with signed physical books, which would be kept safely unread on the shelf, theoretically increasing in value, like a corked wine.

It seems to me some tech wizards could come up with a more elegant solution. Of course, there’s the email signature, which I’ve mocked up above. Perhaps publishers could jack up the price of a digitalized book by a dollar if the front page contains a facsimile of the author’s signature.

Or maybe it could even be personalized. The Kindle already accepts non-book documents. Why not, for an additional charge, allow a reader to request a personalized inscription that could then be inserted onto the title page? Perhaps an enterprising author or publisher, eager to increase sales, could offer this for free.

Maybe all the reader buying an iBook or a Kindle version would have to do is click a button and the author or publisher would actually send a signed bookmark in the (gasp) mail. I doubt Dan Brown or Stephen King would bother, but I bet a struggling author like Debra Galant would.

Advertisements