Signed Ebooks? Really?

This ebook has been signed

This is a guest post from Michelle Halket from ireadiwrite publishing. You can read/listen to an interview with Michelle on digital publishing here.

As a digital publisher, we get challenged on the fact that our books aren’t ‘real’. A person can’t hold the paper, they can’t smell the glue – it’s not a tangible product. I personally disagree, books aren’t paper and ink – they are the stories that bring us away to places we’ve never been and to meet characters that are fantastical or horrible or lovable.

For ireadiwrite Publishing, ebook publishing represents a way for us to get authors with good books out into the marketplace at a lower cost so that they can get what every author wants – to be read. We can release far more authors than a typical indie press, because we specialize in ebooks. But that doesn’t mean our books aren’t ‘real’. They are treated like any other book out there: they are carefully selected, edited, typeset, designed, proofread, widely distributed and marketed. Our authors market themselves in many ways, and one of the most successful ventures is blog tours and book giveaways, just like with printed books. But for our authors, we give them a little treat to offer bloggers and other giveaway hosts – a personalized, signed copy of the ebook for the lucky winner.

There’s no technical feat in producing these ebooks, they’re created in the same way that all ebooks are made: with conversion software using input files. For these signed books, one of the input files is a page dedicated to the reader written in the author’s own hand. Check out this copy of AMBER FROST by Suzi Davis, shown here on my Kindle.

And so, the fact that ebooks can be professional works of art – combined with the ability to distribute signed copies of them – don’t ever let anyone tell you that an ebook isn’t a ‘real’ book.

Michelle Halket is the Creative Director for ireadiwrite Publishing, an independent press specializing in digital books. Passionate about technology and books, Michelle works with writers from submission to publication.

I now offer a multi-media online short course on how to publish your book on the Kindle, iPad, Nook and other e-readers as well as answers to all your ebook publishing questions. Featuring video, audio and PDF information for only $39.99.

Click here for all the details.

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  1. Cathy Keaton says

    Wow, that is really great! I wonder how an author gets their own handwriting into an ebook, though.

  2. says

    If your ebook is being sold DRM free, this method should work very well for book signing events:

    1) Bring a laptop and a writing pad (something like this works fine, don’t need the expensive ones: ).
    2) Open the digital image editing program of your choice – be that Photoshop, Gimp, Paint, whatever. Open a file of your book cover there.
    3) Open a Calibre window with a copy of your book file sitting there.
    4) To sign a cover, shift to the art program, use the tablet to sign the book, save the image. In Calibre, load the signed version of the image as the cover page. Convert to the desired ebook format.
    5) Plug the fan’s reader into your laptop, press the “send to device” button on Calibre, and the book with signed cover is loaded into the device. You can also load it onto a pen drive, or sell signed copies you burn onto a CD (CDs are cheap, negligible cost).

    All told, it DOES take a little longer than just popping a book open and signing it. And depending upon whom you published with (what rights they purchased and whether or not they use DRM), you may have to ask for special permission from the publisher to do this sort of thing…

    The easy alternative is to arrange for a pre-signed file to sit on your computer, and you just load it onto CDs or devices as people prefer. This lets you use a file with your publisher’s DRM, but is again something you’d probably need to work out specially with the your publisher.

  3. says

    You can do this with a Sony Reader, too. It has notes/annotation capability.

    What I’d prefer, though, is some kind of editable field in ebooks (or a facility offered by publishers to reformat the book) that will let me attach a picture of me with the author. In the digital world, I think that makes much more sense than an autograph (with the added bonus of discouraging piracy because your face will be in the ebook file!).

    • says

      That’s a great idea Kat – I think we will see all kinds of changes come to the technology. Maybe something that digitally signs like the e-devices you sign when you receive a parcel – that might work for ebook signing. Exciting times!

  4. says

    What a cool piece of news! I never once thought of the ability to sign an e-book! While I will always be the traditional print book buyer (my shelves of books are my security blanket, *snorts), it is impossible to ignre the stand that e-books are taking in the industry–what an exciting time! I just love the fact that e-books open so many new doors for authors.

    • says

      Hi Krissy – I reckon you’ll change your tune in the next 2 years – ebooks will become dominant force and you’ll buy fewer print books – although they won’t go away completely!

  5. says

    I’ve very quickly become a convert to ebooks since I got my Kindle in January. I still love traditional books, but they are a dinosaur in that they haven’t basically changed since the printing press was developed! Think how much methods of transport or clothing have changed in that time. So, although I’m sure that paper books will be around for quite a while yet, it really is the dawning of the age of the ebook.

  6. Chronicles says

    Wow! Wonderful information. I was wondering about that recently since I released my book’s first two volumes digitally and not in print yet. Thanks Kevin & Joanna for sharing.

  7. says

    I’d been hearing about “signed” ebooks. I think playing with this with free e-reads might be the best jumping off point for me — thank you for giving me something to think about! :) Great article!

  8. says

    HELL yeah ebooks are real – Amazon’s numbers show that they out-sell physical books nowadays – whoever claims that ebooks aren’t the real thing must come from the backside of the moon.

    I LUV the idea of personalized ebooks – even if it’s “just” a signing. I think (and hope) that the future will promise more – highly interactive and unique ebooks that smoke traditional books OUT OF THE WATER both in terms of style and funcionality !

    • says

      Hi Mars – yes, this is only the tip of the iceberg. There will be some app soon we can just sign on or take a pic and send it to the ebook or something cool like that. Or virtual signings like I think Margaret Atwood does, with handwriting simulator. Very cool!

  9. says

    I actually just did a *ghetto* version of this recently for an ARC someone won on Twitter. I signed a white piece of paper and made it a page in the Word file before converting it.

    Of course, I Should have edited it to make it look like a real page, or printed out a page to sign ands then scanned it back in to replace the original (which I’ll probably do from now on … with those ruler-sized scanners, it couldn’t be much easier!), but it was just a last minute thing I thought to do and didn’t really think too long about it.

    Kevin’s idea is great, too.

    I’m sure this will be a pretty common thing fairly soon.


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