Acclaimed novelist Margaret Atwood is once again at the cutting edge of innovation, identifying ways for authors and their readers to connect in a way that will minimize travel (and leave a smaller carbon footprint). But it’s not only the environment that will benefit from Atwood’s ideas.
The question to which Atwood and the brilliant minds at iDoLVine have found the answer is: How do you enable authors to connect with the most readers in a given time and place? How do you overcome the expense of book tours (something that many authors haven’t either the time or money) and at the same time allow authors to reach out to their fans in remote places all at once?
After meeting Atwood briefly in New York at a party during Book Expo America, I learned that she is working with a company called iDoLVine on something very, very cool and of interest to all authors (whether or not they’re on the best seller list) and anyone who’s ever wanted to meet, talk with, and get an personal autograph from their favorite author.
The idea, according to Matthew Gibson, CEO of IDoLVine, “began back in 2004. Margaret came a need in the marketplace for book authors who were touring to be able to reach a broader segment of their fan base without the sort of maniacal travel requirements and the costs associated with it.”
Back then, the solution was something called LongPen. “Margaret called me,” Gibson explained wondering whether there was “a technology available that could be used in conjunction with video conferencing that would allow her to sign physical books in her own handwriting using a real pen.” Gibson confessed that although the task was monumental, they set out to develop the technology. “If I had known how difficult it would be,” he said, “I would have preferred to have made a remote surgery machine!” Using the LongPen technology allows a person to sign anything remotely—with a genuine, certifiable signature—to physically sign books—hard copy books anywhere in the world. Margaret had envisaged a way for her to sit in the comfort of her house, not as a way to exclude physical book tours but a way to augment them. To meet fans in markets that she wouldn’t otherwise get to.” Signings at remotely-located and distant bookstores now became possible; authors who could not (or did not like to) travel could now attend book signing events.