When an author signs on a copy of a book, the autograph transforms the ‘copy’ into an ‘original’. The signed book becomes unique, non-duplicable and hence superior to its factory-printed sibling – thanks to the special touch and blessing it has received from its maker. The proud owner now has a story to tell every time a conversation veers towards the book or the author.
The act of proffering a book or paper, and it being taken, signed, and returned, may end up being the only real ‘one to one ’ we may have with our heroes. And if there are a few words exchanged during the process, and the signature is preceded by our name, the interaction can become even more memorable!
The autograph is also a reminder of the fact that “I was there”. It not only evokes nostalgia when stumbled upon years later, but can also act as compelling evidence when one is recounting a meeting with a celebrity to envious friends.
Nowadays almost all my reading is electronic. Makes me wonder if that's the end of the autographed book. Would we soon figure out a way of getting an e-book autograph? Even if it were possible to sign on an e-page, would it feel as tactile as pen on paper? So could the autograph in some way be the savior of ink and hardcover editions? Or would the autograph, like paper and ink, become an heirloom of the past?