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
video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l023VZPkTuY
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.