Why not a short video of the author dedicating this copy of the book to the purchaser, along with a time/date stamp? The video travels with the electronic file. That would probably take as long as a signing.
I never understood the fuss. With some authors it's harder to find an unsigned copy than an autographed one. Association copies with marginalia or long dedications are much more interesting. I have a copy of a (not very good) novel by Bernard De Voto with about five pages of rambling, possibly drunken gushing over the brilliance and great future prospects of some young woman whom I suspect he was hitting on. I wouldn't trade that for a "To Fnarf" from anyone.

Vaudeville star Sophie Tucker was famous for signing everything put in front of her. It is said that her autobiography has never been seen in an unsigned state. I suspect TV comedian Chelsea Handler is headed in that same direction; she signs stacks of the things right there during her show.

Now, if you really want a personal souvenir, bring scissors to the reading and whack off a big hunk of his hair! You'll always have video of the news footage to remember the encounter by.
Just print an ebook invoice and have the author sign/dedicate that at the reading.
What are the odds you'll see digital autographs from dead writers? It wouldn't be beneath Apple to consider this as they'll milk readers for every penny they have, they already tried to fix prices on ebooks.
I hope this is one of those defensive patents which is taken out so something will never happen.
I get the point, but I didn't think bitcoins could catch on either, so maybe something like this could work...but yeah, a real ink autograph will always be better.
Autographs are one of the few reasons I will still occasionally purchase a hardcover book, even if I already have it on my Kindle.

@2: For me, the autograph is a memento; it is a reminder of that time I got to meet the author and talk with them about their work. I would never pay for an autograph I did not receive myself - it would just be a meaningless scribble.
I have three author autographs on the back cover of my Kindle, and this definitely is not the same thing. It's a good attempt, but I think this is one instance where technology can never truly mimic or replace the real thing.

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