Why does it not surprise me that Margaret Atwood, the perennially arrogant ambassador of Rosedale Nation, came up with this?
***Atwood adds 'inventor' to CV
By REBECCA CALDWELL
Thursday, January 6, 2005 - Page R1 (Globe and Mail)
Picture a book lover in a Kamloops, B.C., bookstore getting his favourite author to sign a book -- from her home in Toronto. Sound like a science-fiction scenario? Perhaps it's fitting then, that Margaret Atwood, author of futuristic fantasies The Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake, has invented a prototype remote autographing device that has the potential to revolutionize book signings.
Atwood hit upon the idea for the machine after a strenuous tour for the paperback publication of Oryx and Crake that took her all across the United States last April.
"I thought, there has to be a better way of doing this," Atwood says. ". . . I am now an old-age pensioner, I cannot keep doing this. I can't keep eating Pringles [from the hotel minibar] and keep getting on the plane at 4 in the morning."
The machine, created in consultation with computer experts under Atwood's newly created company Unotchit Inc., is still in the development phase, but at the moment it will comprise two units. The first will consist of a screen, where the author can see and speak to the book reader in real-time, and a tablet on which the author will write the inscription. The second unit will be with the book reader, and will also include a screen to communicate with the author in real-time, and will have a flat book holder as well as an electronic arm and pen that will scrawl out the autograph.
The system will allow the inscription to be edited or spell-checked before being committed to paper and the quality of the signature should be identical to one done in person, Atwood says. The book reader will also be able to keep a record of the on-screen interaction with the author for posterity.
The autographing system is not meant to replace traditional readings or festivals. "It's an in-bookstore enhancement device," Atwood stresses. She expects the device to be ready for use in the next six to 18 months. The production cost of the machine hasn't yet been determined.
"I applaud anybody that tries to think out of the box about these things and comes up with a truly original idea, but it's also a wait-and-see thing," says Doug Pepper, president and publisher of McClelland & Stewart. "It has to come out, they have to perfect it, get the kinks out of it, and people have to learn how to use them and accept them. It certainly would be easier on the authors, and in terms of saving money, I would hope so -- we're always into saving money. One of the most costly things in any marketing budget is touring."
Here, dammit, you can have one for free:
Print it out and paste it in your thrift-store copy of The Handmaid's Tale
. You don't even have to talk to her to get it (though the point is that she doesn't have to talk to you).