Today I had the privilege of seeing U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor speak in San Francisco on a book tour for her personal memoir “My Beloved World.” I’ve taken to using e-readers of late but when the opportunity to attend a book signing presents itself, you gotta go old school and buy the printed version.
I waited for about 45 minutes in line with other attendees from the Commonwealth Club-hosted event at Herbst Hall near the San Francisco Civic Center for Sotomayor to sign my book. When I presented my book I actually asked her, “So, has anyone ever asked you to sign their Kindle?” While humored, she actually told me that her people (I presume the publisher, Alfred A. Knopf) were trying to figure out a way to do that.
Turns out, there are two ways to do that.
One is a service called Autography, which describes itself as a small book retailer that doesn’t try to compete with large online booksellers like Amazon or brick-and-mortar booksellers like Barnes & Noble but competes by offering unique services. One is that its eBooks run on any device platform be it an Amazon Kindle, an Apple iPad or other tablets. The second is that it has a feature that lets authors digitally sign books for readers.
“For the first time, authors can personalize an ebook as easily as they can a physical book. This autograph can include special graphics or even a photograph with the reader if they wish,” Autography explains on its Web site.
The other service is called Authorgraph, which is perhaps confusingly similar to Autography. When it was founded in 2010, the company was called Kindlegraph, but creator Evan Jacobs wrote on its Web site that he changed the name to Authorgraph in November 2012. I’m guessing the electronic signatures can go on ebooks on other devices than Kindles. But Authorgraph also is unique in that it promotes the work of indie authors.
Literary agent Rachelle Gardner laments on her Web site that ebooks may endanger the book signing tradition, but won’t eliminate it altogether. Printed copies of books are still sold widely and printed versions are still the way books are distributed at book launch parties, book signings and speaking engagements.
“Won’t it be great when it’s a ‘status symbol’ to own a limited-edition PRINTED version of your favorite author’s book? AND have it autographed?” Gardner writes (all caps hers).
Of course an ebook autograph still lacks the experience of seeing and hearing the author in person. Justice Sotomayor got a standing ovation before and after she spoke in San Francisco. Her book, and the onstage interview by Stanford Law School Dean Mary Elizabeth McGill, covers her life up until she was first nominated as a federal judge by President George H.W. Bush in 1992, named to a Court of Appeals post in 1998 by President Bill Clinton and nominated to the Supreme Court by President Barack Obama in 2009.
Born in Puerto Rico, she and her family moved to New York City when she was young. Her memoir tells the story of their impoverished life, her father’s alcoholism and death when she was 9, her mother struggle to make ends meet and Sotomayor’s diagnosis of juvenile diabetes at age 7 and a half. Despite all these and other hardships, Sotomayor persevered and made a success of her life.
I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the book without draining the batteries on my iPad