Publishers of Bob Dylan’s latest book are offering refunds to those who purchased “hand-signed” editions, admitting they used autopen technology.
Simon & Schuster originally announced that 900 copies of The Philosophy of Modern Song had been personally autographed by Dylan. They apparently refused to own up at first when fans discovered the copies employed automatic replication.
That changed overnight. “To those who purchased The Philosophy of Modern Song, we want to apologize,” Simon & Schuster said in an official statement. “As it turns out, the limited edition books do contain Bob’s original signature, but in a penned replica form. We are addressing this immediately by providing each purchaser with an immediate refund.”
Autopen systems have been in use since the 19th century, with early mechanical versions providing a template of a signature cut through a metal plate. Users then moved a stylus through the cut shape, while pens at the end of flexible arms followed the movement across sheets of paper. Presidential signatures are often placed on government bills using autopen.
Since such an signature isn’t a genuine autograph, however, it doesn’t attract the value of a real one in the collectors’ market. Angry buyers took to social media to complain, calling the publishers lairs and frauds. One demanded corporate resignations. Dylan’s organization has not yet commented.
Meanwhile, a collection of Dylan’s teenage love letters sold at auction for $670,000, although they were expected to sell for at least $800,000. The world-famous Livraria Lello bookshop in Portugal placed the winning bid, and reported that the intention was to make the collection of documents available for Dylan fans to study.
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