At this year’s London Book Fair, which was held in early March, novelist Margaret Atwood introduced the LongPen, a device she designed that allows authors to sign books for readers who are hundreds or even thousands of miles away. Using the LongPen, an author sits at a computer and signs her name on an electronic pad. The signature is then transmitted digitally through the Internet to a computer in another location where a mechanical instrument writes the signature in a reader’s book. Recipients of the signature can also converse with the author using video conferencing technology.
Atwood, whose most recent book is the short story collection The Tent (Nan A. Talese, 2006), hopes the LongPen will allow publishers to promote lesser known writers and give authors greater contact with their readership.