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She's known to millions as a sharp-witted, bestselling author. Now Margaret Atwood is set to don a new hat with the release this weekend of what's believed to be the world's first long-distance signing device.
An international book star thanks to novels like The Handmaid's Tale and The Blind Assassin, Atwood admits her new "inventor" role has turned a few heads.
"The reactions have been: That's great. She's mad. It's a joke. She's ruining (book tour) signatures. I can hardly wait to have one," she said in an interview over coffee at a downtown Toronto restaurant.
The LongPen machine, which Atwood is unveiling Sunday in London, England, allows writers to sign books for fans anywhere in the world.
Here's how it works: The author scribbles a message using a stylus pen on a computer tablet. On the receiving end, in another city, a robotic arm fitted with a regular pen signs the book. The author and fan chat via webcam.
Created with book tours in mind, the machine has several other potential applications: enhancing credit card security, allowing doctors to write prescriptions for out-of-town patients, and signing legal forms such as divorce or real-estate documents. The LongPen is also adaptable to hold CDs and hockey sticks, allowing stars to give autographs remotely.
On the one hand, Margaret Atwood has finally produced a contribution of lasting value to society. On the other hand, she did so to inflict her book signings on the greater public outside the safe confines of Queen West bookshops and women's studies colloquia.
Still, some good can come out of evil.
Source: Toronto Star