Thursday, February 1, 2007

A Different Kind of Book Signing

That's me talking to author Leo Yerxa as he signs my book remotely from Ottawa.

This afternoon I had the very unique experience of having a book signed by an author who was several hundred kilometers away. I had heard about LongPen, the remote signing machine developed by Margaret Atwood, and here it was on the trade show floor at SuperConference. I had to have a look.

I must admit I was mildly skeptical as to whether this would be the same kind of experience as one would have meeting an author face to face, but I was very pleasantly surprised. The machine incorporates video conferencing, so I was able to have a conversation with author Leo Yerxa as he signed my copy of his beautiful picture book, Ancient Thunder. Way cool! Leo was signing in Ottawa, and the robotic machine's pen was signing the book following his motions, in real time.

Be it to save authors from enduring prolonged book tours, to reduce the carbon footprint of such expeditions, or to bring a remarkably personal experience to people in remote locations, the technology is fascinating and the experience not at all impersonal. Great work, Margaret!

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