That’s a question that writers, and others with plenty of time on their hands, have been pondering since the intelligentsia realized that electronic books are a force rather than a fad.

It’s easy to ink a signature across the title page of a paper book. It’s cool, too. (As it happens, I collect autographed books inscribed to the three PinkBlog children.)

But what happens when the book you own consists of atoms behind a screen instead of bits in your hand?

Evan Jacobs has an answer. He calls it Kindlegraph.

You sign in — for free — with your Twitter account. You look up your favorite book or author. Then you click a button that says “Request Kindlegraph.” That sends a note to the author, who then uses her finger and her computer trackpad to “sign” your ebook and zap it to your Kindle. See above for an e-book that I signed a few days ago.

It’s not a perfect solution, of course. But it does represent a nice first step to connect readers and writers in the digital age. So if you’re an ebook devotee, give it a try. I’m getting much better at signing with my index finger. (The Nook Color apparently has an autographing function, too. If you’re a Nook user, email and tell me how it works.)

Also — and this is important — if you prefer the kind of books with paper, fear not.  If you’d like a signed Drive bookplate, just complete this super-short form and we’ll snail mail you one for free.  It won’t arrive instantly and magically. But it will bear a trace of the unbeatable smell of a Sharpie.

10 Responses to “How do you sign an e-book?”

  1. Bryan Goh says:

    Hi, i am actually someone from Singapore and i greatly admire your books. I also enjoyed your talk at the Apple Education Leadership Summit in March. I don’t think my parents would allow me to enter my address, so is there another way i can get your bookplate for free, maybe a digital one?
    Looking forward to your reply. :

    Cheers,
    Bryan

  2. Justin Brady says:

    I doubt this will be an adequate replacement for a real signature. A real signature makes a physical connection to the author. After reading Drive for example, having a signed copy from you achieved more on a human level than any virtual signature could possibly achieve. (it’s in a glass box protected by lasers linked to gun turrets!)

    I don’t think it’s about the signature in itself, but about the real connection we made with our favorite author. I think the only real replacement in this digital age is your earlier idea of some type of kindle “book” sleeve or cover.

    Perhaps the book plates will catch on for e-readers. Authors could use a standard size with the book logo, and they cold be signed at events or sent via mail.

  3. Ben Knight says:

    A signed book is a type of honorarium and crossover from the Fine Art world. “Put on airs” is the wrong phrase, but it is the first word that comes to mind.

    Also: please be kind to your book, most book designers and typographic design related people ‘know’ to sign in pencil. Most authors have no clue and just sign with marker (which after a few years looks horrible)

  4. Steve Hughes says:

    Agree totally with Justin, ultimately it is a pale imitation of the original intention of a book signing, so why bother. Why not just ‘go the whole hog’ and insert the authors signature as part of the original e book?

  5. Nila Nealy says:

    Just this weekend I had an author sign the back of my Kindle. Red Sharpie in hand, I told him I read e-books and wondered if he’d sign my Kindle. He smiled and said, “I’ve never done this before.” I replied, “Neither have I so let’s do this together.” Sure it will eventually fade or the Kindle will be replace with a newer model. I did take a picture using my iPhone of the signature with a physical book for posterity. It was big fun having him sign it.

  6. I enjoy both e-books and print copy books and I enjoy reading both. However, a few weeks ago, I brought a book along to my first book signing. Meeting the author was a great experience. As you stated, e-signing is not a perfect solution, but it is interesting. As a book junkie, I prefer print books. Thanks for the post.

  7. Kristen says:

    I use Goodreader, an iPad app that lets me markup PDFs in handwriting using a stylus. There’s got to be a way to add similar functionality to the Kindle app or iBooks.

  8. Kristen says:

    I use Goodreader, an iPad app that lets me markup PDFs in handwriting using a stylus. There’s got to be a way to add similar functionality to the Kindle app or iBooks.

  9. Hi Daniel,

    Out of curiosity, what if you publish e-books for the Kindle and are not a “big name” how can you sign the book before you upload it?

    Avil

  10. BJ says:

    Yes to the personal connection with the author of all my signed books — and Avil, not all my signatures are from world famous authors, just cool people who wrote useful material and I’ve had a chance to personally meet or am luck to know.

    However, many of my personal connections are not local, they are virtual – blogs, LinkedIn, email, skype. There are people I’ve known and worked with for years that I have never physically met, or have seen only once or twice. That makes me think that you could do some sort of virtual e-signing the way authors do physical book signings.

    By the way, I use more audio books than either ebooks or paperback – driving, exercising, etc. Anybody with a clever way of audiosigning? – Sending a wave file with a verbal message?
    But defintely during a real interaction, at least a virtual booksigning. Why don’t you try it Daniel?

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