The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Guest Post from Marcus of Writing Investigated

          Don't be intimidated but we're gonna talk technical today.  Well, I shouldn't say we because today's post is a guest spot from Marcus of Writing Investigated.   And I guess it's not going to be all that technical from our point of view.  I even kind of understand what's going on here and Marcus has provided illustrations and even  a demonstration video.  Just give a listen and let him know what you think.

        So, Marcus, tell the readers who you are and let us know what you've got for us today:

I'm the person who made the navigation buttons for the A-Z Challenge

It was during the challenge that I got the idea I'd like to present to
you today - signed ebooks. Yes, I know, most people still read paper
books, but ebooks are gaining fast in popularity. Brace yourself paper
book lovers because I am about to mention bibliophile and ebooks
together - you may need a second cup of coffee or tea.

I've always been a bit of a bibliophile. Beautifully produced books
always held a fascination for me. One drawback of ebooks is that they
cannot be personalized by signing. While manually formatting my first
short story for various ebook formats, I realized that ebooks could be
personalized and even signed by the author.

The value of signing books is in the personalization. The author
creates a unique book by writing a dedication and signing the book.
This creates a connection between author and reader. Digital
communications offer a great potential to expand this connection
beyond the mere book signing. A benefit for both authors and readers.
More on that another time. Let's take the first step and look how
ebooks can be personalized.

A few projects have recently sprung up which try to adapt book
signings to digital media, notably IdolVine and KindleGraph. However,
neither of those seem to embed the author's signature into an ebook,
from what I could tell. Correct me if I'm wrong.

I set about creating a web application which would create a
personalised ebook with the author's inscription. It works like this:
- Authors place order buttons on their websites, e.g. a Paypal button
- When a signed copy is ordered the author is notified and receives a
message from the buyer
- The author digitally signs and uploads the inscription
- The new ebook is created and emailed to the reader/buyer

The actual signing is done in one of three ways:
- Using pen and paper, then scanned
- Using a graphics tablet. This is a digital form of pen and paper,
costing from about $35-$50, used mainly by illustrators and graphic
- Using an iPad, or other Slate, with a stylus. A stylus is a pen for
touchscreens, costing from about $15-25.

I used a graphics tablet, Wacom's "Bamboo Pen", to produce the
inscriptions you see here and in the video presentation below. It
works great after a little practice, and with the bonus that you can
use it for drawing as well.

At this point, you may be thinking this all sounds very nice, but are
having difficulty actually imagining how it all works in practice. I
hope the following video presentation and downloading a sample ebook
will provide an aha-moment for you. If not, you can email me any
specific questions.

video link:

I'm now looking for other authors who would like to try signing their
ebooks. You could even do a live event over Skype, chat or Twitter. If
you are an author interested in signing ebooks please email me. As
explained above, you will need either a scanner, a graphics tablet, or
an iPad with a stylus (I haven't tried the latter myself yet).

If you're intrigued but need a little tempting, you can play with the
live demo. It let's you sign with your mouse in your web browser. Yes
I know, I didn't mention that possibility yet. Mainly because writing
your name with your mouse is, shall we say, sub-optimal. I think it
looks as though a drunken sparrow, trained to write one's name, had
been let loose on the page :-)  But it's still nice to scribble around
a bit and get an ebook with one's scribbling on the title page. Just
to try it out. Email me if you want to let the sparrow loose.

You can also download the samples shown in the video and take a look
yourself at a real signed ebook:



If you have any suggestions about signing ebooks or questions, leave a
comment, or feel free to email me at wordituk (AT) gmail (dot) com.



  1. A great idea and one that makes a lot of sense.

    Moody Writing

  2. This is very interesting, but I would definitely need a stunt writer for the signature! Thanks Marcus for designing the A to Z Navigation Button, and best of luck with this great concept! Julie

  3. This is so interesting especially as I am in the process of compiling another poetry book and wondered whether to include some as Ebooks.
    Thanks for explaining.


  4. Hi Marcus and Lee .. what a great idea .. it'll be interesting to see how this works - as authors get here to try it out.

    I shall be following along - cheers Hilary

  5. This is a fantastic idea...

  6. Very very cool. Now I want one of those. I did not know they were available. Thanks for sharing with us as I've wondered how authors can sign an ebook.

  7. Hi Lee, nice to meet you Marcus! I think that is a fantastic idea, it makes alot of sense... anytime you can add a personal touch you have a winner. I can't wait to see were this technology goes! Super cool stuff!

  8. greetings to Michael, sound like a true expert and a nice person!

  9. @Alex, if you want to try it out mail me. There's an online writing pad. You can sign directly in the browser with your tablet.

    @Stephen, I think I emailed you in advance a week or two ago at Lee's suggestion, but I had difficulty finding contact info. The publicized email address may have been outdated?

    Btw, if anyone tried a graphics tablet and did not get optimal results with their signature, it's due to the paint program you used. The correct program and the results are, dare I say, better than with scanned paper!

    I recommend Inkscape, a free Open Source vector drawing program. It's calligraphy tool is excellent for this. That is what you see in the video.

  10. Oh! This is so cool! I love it. Plus I already have a wacom tablet (graphic design background). Awesome!

  11. As a consumer, this wouldn't do it for me. I want a real signature on a book that the author has actually touched.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog.


  12. Cool, Marcus!!! Thanks for hosting, Lee. I'm going to retweet the heck out of us (provided my laptop continues to function.)

  13. A big thank you to you, Marcus, for this fascinating look at ebook signing. This has been a change from my usual blog fare.

    Thanks to all who have commented so far and remember to contact Marcus if you are interested in hearing more.

    Welcome to the commenters who are still to come.


  14. This is awesome. I'm showing this link on my publishers loop. Great concept. Thanks for sharing this.

  15. Hey this is good stuff! Thanks for sharing, I'm gonna play around with this one, for sure. :-)

  16. This is fabulous! I already want one. Brilliant idea, brilliant application. I can already see all kinds of opportunities opening up for authors as a result of this. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Wow, very cool Marcus! Thanks for sharing this idea. And thanks for sharing this post, Lee!

  18. Very cool! An author just said she got the technology so she could autograph e-books. Great idea!

  19. Well, that was just intriguing.

  20. Once again, thank you Marcus, and thanks to everyone who left a comment. I don't think we've heard the last about this concept.


  21. I don't have tablet tech, but this is wicked cool. Thanks for sharing this. :)

  22. This solves a problem I've heard from a lot of people (myself included). Very interesting! I have to think about whether it would be the same. Oh, I'd like it, but would I wish that signature was on paper instead? I'm just not sure! Good luck with your efforts! You are one heck of a problem solver.

  23. This solves a problem I've heard from a lot of people (myself included). Very interesting! I have to think about whether it would be the same. Oh, I'd like it, but would I wish that signature was on paper instead? I'm just not sure! Good luck with your efforts! You are one heck of a problem solver.

  24. Fascinating post. Something to investigate when time allows!

  25. This is so cool! I love the idea of doing a virtual eVent for eBook signings. My publisher handles all the eBook uploading, so I'd probably have to coordinate w/ them to make it work I'm guessing. At this time I've got some other projects I'm working on, but in the future I'll be back to learn more. For now, I plan to link to this post on Monday as part of an author blog hop---I'm sure the other participants will be excited to explore the possibilities too. Thanks for the post, Marcus, and thanks for bringing this to us, Arlee!

  26. This sounds like a super cool idea. I'm just exploring how to upload an ebook, so this might be beyond me for now. Still, it's an intriguing thought.


Go ahead and say something. Don't be afraid to speak your mind.
I normally try to respond to all comments in the comment section so please remember to check the "Email follow-up comments" box if you want to participate in the comment conversation.

For Battle of the Bands voting the "Anonymous" commenting option has been made available though this version is the least preferred. If voting using "anonymous" please include in your comment your name (first only is okay) and city you are voting from and the reason you chose the artist you did.

If you know me and want to comment but don't want to do it here, then you can send me an email @ jacksonlee51 at aol dot com.