Friday, July 13, 2012

How to Sign an eBook

So I got to talking with my good friend M about a fan of hers who wanted a signed copy of her new book. Which is great, because signed copies are an old and much loved literary tradition. But what if the book is an eBook?

Book signings used to involve actual contact. Even today, it's common to see the author sitting at a table with a stack of her books at a convention or in a brick and mortar store (been there, done both), wearing her most approachable smile and hoping some kind soul would stop by to chat or buy one of her books, which she will then happily personalize. Sometimes the only contact is by way of pen on paper, such as when the author will drop off pre-signed books for local stores to sell, or sign inserts to be included with print books sold through online outlets.

Most authors enjoy personal contact with readers. I know I do. For all my crippling shyness, there's something magical about putting a real person to one of my stories, to seeing a smile, or receiving a request for a signature. It's reaching out, making a connection. The reader becomes real. Who wouldn't want that?

The advent of electronic reading devices presents an obstacle to the tradition of signing books. A few folk out there are probably fervent enough about some author to ask them to sign their Kindle with permanent marker, but that's not for everyone. And how does an author or publisher personalize an electronic book?

Well, neither M nor I lives on the cutting edge of technology. If I edit a bit of .html or create a password on my cell phone, I'm doing good. Fortunately, it didn't take much research to learn about Autography. That's right. There's a way to autograph eBooks! How cool is that? If there's one way, there may be others. 

I'm going to find out if my publishers do this. Not that I expect a stampede of fans wanting autographed copies of my stories, but if even one fan does, I would love to deliver. How about the author in this article from the NY Times, signing books at 30,000 feet? Now that would be a trip!

For myself, I'm not sure an e-signature would do it for me. As a reader, I love collecting signed paper books, whether special editions or books I had personalized by the author because I met them at a convention or went to a signing. I'm not sure if eBooks can be signed, say, two years later, when I meet the author and get the impulse to say, "I loved your book! I have it with me. Would you sign it?" But who knows? Maybe someday I will be doing just that.

Added info: I just learned about Kindlegraph, a site used by many authors to sign eBooks. In fact, I test-drove it with M and, yep, I have her signature on my Kindle! Check it out. At the moment, you have to have a Twitter account to use it, but they're working on adding other options. 


  1. We had this problem when we put together our publishing cooperative, StarfichPC. When we had our book launch back in November 2011, we wanted signed copies of our ebooks to be available. But, like you say, you can't visually sign an ebook. So what decided was to add an extra page at the front of the ebook with a scanned copy of our autograph. That way when people downloaded it, they got a signed copy. Although this worked really well, it still doesn't answer how a fan would get a signed copy if they bumped into you...

    1. That sounds like a good way to put out pre-signed copies, or order one from a bookseller. And you say it works, so that's good to know! But it looks like technology has yet to figure out a way to attach signatures to already downloaded books. I guess half a solution is better than none at all. :) Thanks for chiming in on this topic! There's so much I have to learn...

  2. Found this too...