Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fake Autographs Solicited by Publisher?

Baseball players, politicians and actors, among others, have done it forever. Clubhouse employees often fake dozens of autographs a day for ballplayers who do not have the time or inclination to sign all the items sent to them for autographing. Politicians, including presidents, have made good and steady use of the autopen, a mechanical device that perfectly mimics their signature, and actors often use family members or employees to fake their signatures on pictures sent to them for signing. We all know it happens and, these days, no one is shocked by the practice.

Up to now, I have not wanted to believe that it happens much in the publishing world but it looks like that may just be wishful thinking on my part. The Guadian.com has a story today showing that, since some authors can no longer be bothered to do the grunt work involved in signing their own books, publishers are willing to pay others to sign their names for them. After all, lifting that ballpoint pen is damned hard work.
One smart publisher seems to have devised a way of easing the pain for the millionaire bestseller writer. They have posted an advert on the listing site, Craig's List, inviting a team of part-time workers to fake the signatures and get paid in cash for the privilege.

The advert says it is looking for 14 people who can do a blitz of false autograph signing on behalf of two unnamed co-authors of a newly released, and equally anonymous, book. "You will need to be able to copy the look and style of both author's signatures," it says.

In return, the successful applicants will be paid $25 for 200 books signed. The New York-based blog Gawker, which spotted the advert, has been unable to ascertain the identity of the publisher, or the authors involved. But they are clearly major players, judging by the scale of the operation.
Some millionaire bestselling authors continue to astound me with their willingness to take credit for writing with which they had relatively little to do, slapping their names atop the covers of books that automatically hit the bestseller lists even though they may not have actually written a word of them. So I suppose this is just the next logical step in automating the branding of a few names.

At this point, I am hoping that the ad is as fake as the autographs described, but I would not at all be surprised to find that it is the real thing.

(The photo shown is an actual autopen machine - the machine used to produce countless autographs every year that are passed off as the real thing to unsuspecting fans and collectors.)


  1. Hmmm, I've been tossing around a post idea dealing with my own signed books. I think this is a great catalyst for it...thanks for pointing it out, Sam!

  2. I'll look forward to that topic over at your place, Jen.