It seems that fellow Ottawan, author Margaret Atwood, buys into the virtual way of doing business, in a really big way. Her company has created a technology that will allow her to attend book signings around the world, greet fans and personally dedicate copies of her latest novels, all from the comfort of her own office in London.
She thinks the technology will enhance the experience for fans too. Instead of queing for hours to spend 30 seconds meeting their favourite author and walking away with a signed novel, they now will queue for hours to get 30 seconds with her by video link. Thanks to a new technology she is bringing to market, they still get a personal dedication, and now fans also walk away with a souvenir DVD of their meeting.
She has her critics. People in the book industry think the use of this technology will ruin book fairs and similar events that are important to publishers and readers alike. Others say she should actually be pressing the flesh of her fans.
But I’m on her side. She’s 66 years old now and pretty fed up with doing book tours and signings. I’ve been on enough media tours to get where she is coming from. Why not use technology to overcome the downfalls of these traditional marketing practices and actually improve the experience for most of those involved?
She couldn’t find a “signing” technology to achieve what she wanted, so she started a company to invent it for herself, Unotchit (pronounced “You no touch it”). Margaret is my kind of woman. She decides she wants to do something, then goes out and makes it happen. I’ve loved her ever since the The Edible Woman and if you haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale or The Blind Assassin, you’ve really missed out.
What does everyone else think? Are remote book signings a good idea/bad idea? Would you value the experience if you were her fan? What other applications could there be for this remote signing technology? Let us know your views.