Let’s face it: paper is dying. It’s going to be a slow death, but for some purposes it’s dying faster. Newspapers find themselves not being able to print anymore due to costs and books are starting to be digital. I’ve recently got a Sony PRS-505 which I love (and my wife does too). And of course there’s the Kindle. With the death of paper-books, a fine tradition is going away: authors signing books.
It’s very likely that the tradition will continue with paper books for a very long time after our book-shelves were replaced with one little device. After all, a signed book is not a book but a collectible item, like a signed baseball or a signed t-shirt. They are stored and displayed differently than their mundane non-signed counterparts.
Eventually the books being signed will be custom-printed because there won’t be any more mass production. But what if we could replace signatures with something digital, and better?
At first I though that you could have your digital book signed. That’s possible, to have a PDF that has the signature in it. That’s trivial to generate automatically so it doesn’t have any value. If it has dedication, that is, your name hand-writen by the author, then it gets trickier to generate; and more valuable. But this is the digital age, the future, we can do better than that. What if you have a PDF where the picture of the cover of the book is not the usual one but a picture of you with the author.
Now, that’s something! The signing booth would now be a photo booth. After you take the picture they’d generate the PDF which you could download instantly by bluetooth or with a code they give you. Now suddenly the digitally signed book is something even more valuable than the usual signature.
If you plan on developing the software and do the hardware integration for this, let me know, I might be interested.