October 1, 2013

Apple patents technology that will allow authors to sign ebooks


Pretty soon cool authors like this guy will be able to sign your ebooks.

Digital reading is poised to get a little more personal with the news that Apple is planning a system to allow authors to sign ebooks. A patent was filed on September 26, which would allow authors to use an app to place their signatures on a new page in the front of readers’ ebooks. The signatures would be authenticated either with embedded certificates or with photographic proof—say, of the author and reader—which could be placed next to the signature.

The news was reported by Patently Apple, a site that primarily follows the development of new Apple technologies. Apple’s plans echo the website Authorgraph, which launched in 2011 as Kindlegraph, and encourages readers to petition authors for a digital signature to be added as a new page in their ebooks.

Apple’s patent goes a step further by creating interactivity zones, so that certain signatures can only be obtained by meeting an author in person at a reading or signing event. It also places an emphasis on personalization, with an indication that readers may be able to design their own versions of the autograph page.

It is refreshing to read that the decision of whether or not and how to allow digital signing will be left up to the author—though one wonders if authors don’t already have enough digital ephemera to deal with. Regardless, there’s plenty of time to adjust to the idea, as Apple has not announced plans to release the app any time soon and there’s no clear indication that they will do so.


Amy Conchie is assistant to the publisher at Melville House.