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How to Sign an Ebook

Dec 3, 2010   [permalink]

Screen, ebook, pen, sign...

Bring up the file on your screen, get out a pen... :)

Which brings up the question, how could you sign an ebook?

Until we get some common form of digital paper an author can sign, this is an interesting question. I like to solve problems, so I thought of a simple way to do it that I hadn't seen before.

I googled around a little on this, and there was some company selling an expensive encryption approach, but it sounded rather complex. And did I mention expensive? Another page recommended authors buy a specialized tablet device. Another pointed out that if your ebook reader happened to have a stylus and the software happened to allow personal annotations, and you met the author in person, then they could then annotate your ebook with their stylus. Pretty specialized set of circumstances.

My solution is simpler, requiring only common items on hand, and could be implemented by either author (for web sales) or the reader (for in person signings).

Sample personalized signed inscription

How I do this is by hand writing the inscription and signing on a sheet of paper, taking a digital photo of it, and manually inserting it into the reader's personal copy of the ebook after the cover image. A scanner works too of course; whichever's better for you.

For web sales, I set up an ebook signing page but it's nothing more than a simple comment form. Email, facebook, in person — any form of author contact can get the information to the author how to inscribe it. Email or posting to any of the various web file sharing accounts with a unique filename can serve as the way to get the signed ebook to the reader, or even just the photo of the signature for them to insert themselves.

The only limitation is that it doesn't work for encrypted ebooks that the author/reader can't edit. For that, the photo of the signature given to the reader would have to suffice. Or you could create your own copy of the book (DRM'd or not) and send that to them, which would be the same as the original from the publisher but with your signature page in it.

The key element is that it represents your personal, physical effort. Just as when signing a paper book, you are physically holding an ink pen to paper and signing. It represents your unique hand motions, which is the essense of what makes a signed book unique. The digital camera or scanner is a quick way to convert paper to digital. Inserting into the ebook file is a convenient (but not really critical) step to replicate the effect of signing a page in the book.

Let me know what you think...

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