Word on the Street




Margaret Atwood will sign copies of her new book, Moral Disorder, via the LongPen, a long distance, real-time real pen.

History will be made this Sunday at The Word On The Street festival when author Margaret Atwood signs copies of her new book, Moral Disorder — because while her fans will be in Toronto, Atwood will be in Edinburgh, Scotland.

For the first time ever, fans will be able to have their books signed via the Internet using Atwood’s invention, the LongPen.

“It was her idea and she brought together the team of people who actually made it,” says Bruce Walsh, vice-president of marketing for Unotchit Inc. “She’s an inventor and an entrepreneur.”

The LongPen is the first long distance, real-time, real pen and ink autographing device that works through a video conferencing system, a bit pad and a magnetic pen.

“It completely changes the way the reader and author communicate with each other. In a regular book signing, their head is down and they sign the book,” says Walsh. “With the LongPen you are looking at one another’s faces.”

Doubleday, an American publishing company, is going to begin using the system for their author signings and Walsh says they hope to have more than 100 systems in bookstores across North America by December 2007.

Atwood will be joined by author Kate Mosse, who will be signing copies of her best-selling paperback, Labyrinth at 11 a.m. from England and by author Thomas Cahill, who will be signing copies of his book, Mysteries of the Middle Ages, at 3 p.m. from New York City.

“The Word On The Street approached us and suggested we partner at the festival,” says Walsh. “It sounded like the perfect thing because it’s her hometown,” he says of Atwood.

Walsh added that not only is the LongPen technology green — it eliminates the pollution created by travel — it also levels the playing field for people in small towns.

“It’s democratizing,” says Walsh. “It allows fans to have access to authors they might not have been able to see.”