How to sign an ebook: Part 3: IdolVine

(Can someone explain to me the goofy capitalization scheme in their name?)

Like Autography (part 2 in this series), IdoLVine was unveiled to the public at BookExpo America in May 2011, and also pitched their business at ThrillerFest in July.  IdoLVine clearly has the biggest budget and largest ambitions of the new e-signing companies.  They have enlisted a number of celebrity authors to promote their service, including Margaret Atwood, famed poet and novelist and author of The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), who is financially involved in the company (maybe one of the founders?).

IdoLVine’s slogan:  Where fans meet celebrities online for face-to-face autograph experiences.

Right there you can see that this company’s ideas go beyond ebook signing.  They are placing themselves to provide contact between fans and artists, performers, and athletes of all kinds.  Their website is clearly intended to be a social networking hub.

Other than the scale of their amibition, iDoLVine will offer many of the same features as Autography, but iDoLVine is definitely emphasizing two-way online streaming “experiences” combined with personalized digital signing, and live web events.  Like Autography, iDoLVine offers the option of signing photos or something other than a simple cover page of the book.

iDoLVine’s defining market advantage is access to a patented, sophisticated signing technology (based on the RealPen robot printer) that produces a legally-binding, 3D signature, not just a 2D-digitally interpreted image.  They call this LiveSign technology, and they claim that it will allow them to market DRM-protected, trackable, verifiable, original signed ebooks, as well as signed paper copies of books via POD (print on demand).  Thing is, this may be of questionable value to most authors who just want to scrawl a few kind words to a loyal reader.

iDoLVine advantages:

  • ebook signing for any device
  • Customer can purchase ebook from any supplier
  • Custom signature and signature page in author’s own handwriting
  • Can sign either a photo or a book page (or any other digital file)
  • Can sign a variety of “e products” not only books
  • Can sign remotely during a live, interactive webstreaming event, or offline
  • With full RealPen robot setup, can remotely sign any physical object, not just books
  • iDoLVine is working with Ingram Content Group (a major U.S. book
    distributor, with the largest inventory of titles)

iDoLVine limitations:

  • They will charge a fee for their service.  They claim it will be very small, but I fear that the service may only be practical for authors whose books are with major publishers and the publisher has a contract with iDoLVine.
  • Webcam / live streaming between author and fans is a cool idea but having witnessed a live demo it seems ridden with technical problems.  Even when everything was “working”, the poor quality of streaming video made for jerky, unpleasant images, and a delay in speech transmission makes conversation extremely awkward.

What’s not clear:

  • How much it will cost
  • What device or technology the author must have to physically do a signing from home
  • How does the signed page get incorporated into the customer’s ebook (iDoLVine does state that fan can get their signed/personalized image or page via email or from the IdoLVine wall).
  • For authors, how to get started with this service?

Ebook signing technology series:
Part 1: KindlegraphPart 2: AutographyPart 3: iDolVine; Part 4: Nook Color; Part 5: MyWrite & BookieJar

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2 Responses to How to sign an ebook: Part 3: IdolVine

  1. Amy says:

    You’re right, the public is developing a deflationary state of mind regarding ebook prices that threatens writers’ incomes. This is one reason the big publishers pushed for the “agency model” with amazon, allowing them to set ebook prices. The bigger problem from an author’s perspective, however, isn’t so much the actual “cover” price of an ebook, but the pitiful royalties paid by major publishers on ebooks. Self-published authors can earn more on a $5 ebook than a $15 paperback produced by a major house (and certainly more than a $5 ebook under contract with a traditional publisher).
    But I do hope that ebook prices stabilize at a higher average than we’re seeing now, or else the public will get completely used to paying next to nothing for content (a problem with the entire Internet that the music industry has never found an answer to).

  2. TRX says:

    Publishers are telling readers that the physical book isn’t worth anything and that the entire value is in the story.Except when a writer’s cut of a book’s cover price is determined. Then the value of the story is minimal.As you said, that’s another matter.While the view that the story is the entire value of a book is flattering to the writer,that’s not the way that readers see it.To readers, e-book cost nothing to produce. Publishers know that isn’t true.Writers know it too. But try to convince the general public of that. As far as readers are concerned,the incremental cost to produce more copies of an e-book is zero.So the readers expect an eBook to be priced less than a physical book. The real costs have nothing to do with it. Design and Graphics

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