Today’s New York Times has an article about one of the potentially awkward aspects of reading via Kindle: What does a Kindle-using fan do at a bookstore reading?
Well, she asks the author to sign her Kindle (as David Sedaris did at one recent event, writing “This bespells doom” before signing his name).
Sedaris was, apparently, kidding — and he’s signed far weirder things (iPods, an artificial leg, an actual leg) — but it does pose an interesting question for those who are making the transition. I’d always assumed that Kindle users were perhaps either techy-geeks (like my husband, who bought one) or fairweather readers who use them for commuter reading but don’t love books the way we ink-and-paper readers do (also a lame assumption because I use my husband’s Kindle so often that it’s now officially “ours”).
But Kindle readers are just like any other reader — they love books, and they become fans of the writers of said books, visiting bookstores to hear them speak and receive an autograph. Yet one reader quoted in the story brought up an important point: “It’s a promotional opportunity for both the writer and the bookstore, and if you’re asking for your Kindle to be signed, you’re taking the bookstore out of the process.” This same reader did note that she’d never ask for an autograph without having paid for the download.
A spokesperson for Amazon didn’t say much to the Times except that Kindle signings have been going on intermittently for the past year. It’ll be interesting to see how this phenomenon evolves — if you look at the photo in this article you’ll see that one signature takes up about 25 percent of the back of the Kindle.
Forgetting English is in the process of being Kindled right now — very exciting — and perhaps by the time it’s finished someone will have invented an electronic autograph system for electronic title pages, so we can “sign” books the way we “sign” our electronic credit card slips. Or perhaps readers will carry, along with their Kindles, a blank journal for writers to sign. I’m definitely up for saving trees, but when it comes to readers and writers, it seems that paper is meant to hang in there in some way or another. At least for a while.