Longpen, long debate…

 Posted by at 10:42 am  Bookish
Mar 072006

So Margaret Atwood gets tired of trapsing around the planet doing book promotions and, more importantly, signings and commissions the creation of “longpen.” The idea is that an author can sit in the comfort of thier house, in a bathrobe with a serious bout of bed head, and sign books in, say, Kenya…or Newark. It is bad enough that the “author signed” market is so rife with fraud/forgery…must we now also be able to discern “hand signed by author” and “longpen signed by author”. Once the computer has “recorded” the authors “signature”, why can’t the author just go take a nice tub…while the pen signs a few thousand books.

This is one of the many reasons why I do not encourage the handful of modern lit collectors I work with to pay much attention to signatures. There are always exceptions, but unless you can pursue the exceptional (and well documented) signatures/inscriptions, the cost/benefit weighs poorly. The fact is, a good autopen (used by presidents/CEOs and who knows how many authors) can take a signature example and perfectly reproduce it…I have heard that, like the gem industry, the best now include small, subtle differences, so if you hold two next to eachother, they appear to be from the same hand, but not mirrors of eachother.

Personally, I love it when an author inscribes a book to me…preferably when they actually know me and incorperate something of “our” relationship in the inscription. This is also the only type of inscription that really pleases me in a book. There was a time that if book was signed, you at least knew the author had held it in his/her hands…no longer. Does it matter. How knows…but it just makes me feel icky.

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