Monday, 1 August 2011

Come on baby, sign my Kindle

There's no doubt about it, having a signed book is something special. I treasure the ones I've got on my shelves, and although I'm always very hesitant asking people when they buy my books if they'd like me to sign them, they always beam and say 'Yes, please!' It turns a book into a momento.

This is often pointed out as one of the disadvantages of ebooks, but now you can get your ebook signed. Sort of.

I have come across people with actual signatures on their Kindles, but this could get messy, and somehow isn't right, but the new website Kindlegraph lets you request a dedication from authors who have signed up for the so far free service. (Thanks to Carol Rose on Litopia for pointing this out.)

After some online jiggery pokery, of which more in a moment, you received a PDF on your Kindle that has a picture of the book cover, a pseudo-handwritten dedication and a signature, which can be the author's real signature if they managed to get it into the computer. So the signed dedication is actually separate from the book, but linked to it by having its cover photo in the document.

I think it's a neat idea which could be quite popular, though the website is very new and rather skeletal at the moment. To find an author you have to search on a page with a straggly list of authors, then click on the button for the book (provided the author has added it). Then the fun starts. You can't get a button unless you log in with a Twitter account, which is a bit scary (and less than useful if you aren't on Twitter). I had hoped to send myself a dedication but the next stage requires you to modify settings for your Kindle to receive a document from Kindlegraph's email. I don't have a Kindle, I use the Kindle reader software on my iPad. So I was unable to carry on.

But in principle I should then have had a request flagged up from reader Brian to author Brian. As author Brian I would then write a dedication. I don't know if I would get any information, like who this person is, who they'd like the dedication made out to, any comments to help me make up a dedication, or whether I would just be firing in the dark - I'll have to see what happens if I get a request.

Finally, then, the reader gets their dedication.

Will it replace the signed book? Of course not. A signed book is a special object. This is just another document, admittedly personalized, on someone's Kindle. And a signed book usually reminds of meeting an author face-to-face. The Kindlegraph is remote and there never was any contact between writer and reader. Even so, it's better than nothing, and deserves a good pat on the back for the developer of Kindlegraph for thinking of a rather neat little website.

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