Several years ago, I went to one of poet Billy Collins poetry readings. After the reading, I had the chance to ask for his autograph. I handed him my book and asked, “What would you say to someone about to graduate from college with his Literature degree, who has no idea what he wants to do other than write?”
Mr. Collins set the book down, leaned back, stretched his arms out and placed his hands behind his head, so his arms made a wing-like shape, and looked off into the distance. I looked back at the line of hundreds of autograph-seekers and then at the poet.
To Mr. Collins, perhaps thinking of how to answer my question, the crowd had disappeared. “Let it move into the center of your life,” he said. “Don’t expect it to happen overnight. Let it evolve.” His wisdom continued, and I asked him questions. He had stepped out of his role as poet into that of teacher, sage, and perhaps even father.
Yesterday, I came across this blog about the Kindlegraph. It allows readers to request autographs from authors via Docusign. The author of this blog wrote, “there are certain aspects of physical books that ebooks will struggle to replicate.”
Even if during my lifetime, Facebook, Google, or Microsoft introduces a technology that allows authors to beam themselves into bookstores via holographs, so they can use a digital pen to sign ereaders via infrared technology, that will not replace the personal touch of waiting in line for hours only to stand in front of one of your literary heroes for just one moment and engaging.
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