For the second year running B&N is making a big deal about offering signed books in its stores. They got 120 authors to sign upwards of half a million copies of their books, which will be available in stores starting on Black Friday.
While that sounds like a lot, it's a tiny amount in comparison to the 500 million ebooks sold last year in the US, or the tens of thousands of authors in the industry. For obvious and valid logistical reasons B&N is leaving most authors out of the game, but that doesn't mean that authors have to sit idly by and miss this opportunity.
Authors can go around the major platforms and offer autographs directly to fans. They can sell autographed paper books from their sites, but the cheaper solution would be to offer digital autographs through either Autography or Authorgraph (fka Kindlegraph).
Launched in 2011, these two platforms fill different needs and offer different products.
Autography is the more broadly-focused platform which serves authors as well as sports stars, musicians, and more. Authors can use it to sign one of their ebooks at the request of a reader. The personalized ebook is transferred to the reader DRM-free, and can be converted and read on almost any ebook platform.
Authorgraph, on the other hand, is a more limited platform that lets authors give their fans a standalone digital autograph. The autograph isn't bundled with a book but is separate (here's an example). While this might not appeal to all, I can see the value. If a fan already has all of an author's ebooks then there's little reason to sell the fan another copy.
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Digital autographs were the hot idea of 2011, and while the buzz died out long ago, the tech is still available and still widely used. Authorgraph boasts of having ten thousand authors participating, and with B&n drawing attention to autographs that is bound to grow.
In the long run I wouldn't be surprised if autographs became a standard optional extra on POD books, perhaps with the auto graph provided remotely by the author and added by a note-writing robot.
But for now, the options are more limited.
Have you used either Authorgraph or Autography? Inquisitive authors would like to know what you think.
image by starmanseries