Digital Sentiment

Digital publishing might be slowly eliminating the concept of book signing with new services such as Kindlegraph and Longpen, both of which are designed to allow writers to sign things digitally through the web.

Kindlegraph and Longpen (the latter invented, oddly enough, by Margaret Atwood) are said to make the eBook “a little more personal.” At what cost?

There’s nothing like waiting in line to meet, hug, shake hands with, drool over, stare at like an idiot or hand your favorite copy of a writer’s book to sign.

Kindlegraphing is eliminating the connection between author and reader. In literature, the author is in direct correlation with the work. In other words, readers usually find books more interesting once they learn more about their authors, unless the writer is a complete nutjobs (which would only scare a few readers) or a conceited intellectual (which would deter most college students on a daily Bukowski fix).

Undoubtedly, writers such as the late David Foster Wallace wouldn’t be as interesting (surely, he’d still be fairly interesting) if the world wasn’t privy to how awkward (and super friendly) he was.

Paul Carr of TechCrunh explains how Kindlegraphing works: “The technology is straightforward enough — readers sign in using Twitter, and select the book which they would like ‘signed’ (authors, or their publishers, have to opt in to have their books featured). The request is then forwarded to the author who — using Docusign’s API — can write a short message and digitally sign it. The signed message is
then forwarded to the reader’s Kindle, as a separate file1.”

Readers could make the argument that Kindlegraph gives them the opportunity to get all their favorite authors’ autographs without having to run to New York City for a packed reading and wait on line for an hour. Sure, but isn’t the signing the foundation on which the connection between author and reader was built? Readers could have all these autographs, but nothing to show for them. Gone are the days when you can put your signed editions on a mantle.

Credibility. Anyone could sign those editions for you at the publishing company, and you would never know.

I like staying in lines for things I’m going to thoroughly enjoy, such as meeting my favorite author. It’s a pastime. Why let go of it?

Links:

1  http://techcrunch.com/

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