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imageimage Why mess with autographing physical Kindles or other gizmos?

As early as 2003, Palm Digital Media let an author embed his autograph in his e-book.

Tad Williams, a best-selling fantasy writer of works such as The War of the Flowers, obliged fans at BEA in Los Angeles.

How Palm embedded e-autographs 

“With high-speed, short-range technology from WideRay,” reads an old press release to which ex-Palm employee Lee Fyock kindly linked from TeleRead’s comment section, “users will be able to simply point the infrared port on Palm Powered™ handhelds and PocketPC devices in the direction of the Jack access point and download the eBook.

“Williams will open a special page within the eBook and sign his name or write a message with the stylus. Palm Digital Media technology recognizes the strokes, and the autograph/message are then embedded into the eBook.”

Time for Fictionwise and others to repeat the idea on the Net

Nice potential here! Why can’t e-book publishers and retailers, including Fictionwise, which now owns the eReader, the old Palm format, set up infrastructures to do the same thing. But this time, it could happen over the Net rather than simply in person—although perhaps there could be versions for use in brick-and-mortar stores.

What do you think, Scott and Steve? I’d be delighted to be a guinea pig. Perhaps the autographed copies could even carry serial numbers, so that the earliest ones were the most valuable as collector’s items. Meanwhile I’m curious if Fictionwise still has the original software and could share a screenshot of what a book-embedded autograph looked like.

The Independent bookstore angle

If I were involved with the IndieBound project, I’d be all over this idea. Perhaps some books could debut with e-autographs available only in physical stores. and their proprietors could share profits with Fictionwise or other e-tailers that provided the infrastructure. Evil of me to say this in an e-book blog oriented toward the Net, not meatspace? Heck no. I want both E and P to thrive, and for indies, too, rather than just the chain giants, to survive.

 
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