On September 26, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a new iBook autographing system and more specifically to techniques and systems for embedding autographs in electronic books. Book signing is the affixing of a signature to the title page or flyleaf of a book by its author. A book signing is an event, usually at a bookstore or library where an author sits and signs books for a period. Book signing is popular because an author's signature increases the value of books for collectors. The author may add a short message to the reader, called a dedication, to each book, which may be personalized with the recipient's name upon request. Book signings provide more than a just a chance to obtain signatures. Authors and bookstores are benefited by the fact that many copies of the book being promoted are sold. Signings also increase public goodwill and allow authors to connect with their fans. For fans, signings give them a chance to see and meet a favorite author and ask them questions. In order for this process to have value in the digital world, Apple has invented this new advanced autographing system.
Apple's Patent Background
With the growth in the sheer number of computers and tablet PCs, electronic versions of paper media products such as books, magazines, and newspapers are now commonly available. These electronic versions can be enjoyed on electronic devices such as computers, laptops, tablet PCs, and mobile phones through electronic book reader applications. The electronic versions have some advantages over paper media products such as containing additional content, are user interactive, are cheaper to purchase, and are more convenient to carry around. However, some users still prefer paper media products for the physical attributes of paper media products, which include the ability to have a copy of a book personalized. For example, a user can go to a book signing and get his copy of the book autographed by the author. The autographed copy can hold some special meaning to the reader.
Apple saw that there was a need for improved techniques for embedding autographs in electronic books.
Apple's invention relates to systems, methods, and non-transitory computer-readable storage media for embedding an autograph into digital media. The digital media includes electronic books (eBooks) stored on a reader's device, which can be a handheld portable electronic device such as a tablet PC. The reader can bring his copy of the eBook on his portable device to a book signing to have the author embed an autograph into the eBook.
The methods described herein can be incorporated into a book signing application that can be downloaded by an author from an online store. The book signing application is configured to automatically perform one or more autographing tasks based on the proximity of a reader's device to the author or the author's device. In some examples, the autographing task that is performed may be dependent on the proximity of the reader's device to the author's device. Exemplary autographing tasks include generation of an autograph page or autograph hot spot, creation of an autograph, and authenticating an autograph.
Authentication of the autograph can take on many forms. Authentication can be through the content in the autograph (e.g., a photo of the author and the reader) or through authentication certificates. In other examples, authentication can be avoided by managing all autographs on the author's device and an online store, thereby preventing readers from altering or modifying an autograph once it has been created by the author.
Autograph Page Creation System
According to Apple, the creation of the autograph hot spot or autograph page can be controlled by a person with special permissions. Examples of persons with special permissions can be the author of the eBook or the owner of this copy of the eBook. By controlling the creation of an autograph page, the autograph would be thought of by readers as something that is more desirable or sought after, particularly if the autograph page can only be created by the author or at an author's book signing.
Controlling the creation of the autograph page or hot spot would also prevent the page from being used for other purposes. For example, it would prevent readers from creating an autograph page between friends and having friends sign the eBook similar to a high school yearbook. It would also prevent a person that borrows another's electronic device or eBook from creating an autograph page.
In Apple's patent FIG. 4 noted below we see an example of an autograph page creation system.
The autograph page creation system is author-centric in that the author has special permissions to create an autograph page. In some examples, the author of the eBook is the only one with the rights to create an autograph page. While the author controls who can and cannot generate the autograph page, the author does not have to be the party that generates the autograph page. Another party can go through the process to generate the autograph page so long as the author grants the party permission to do so.
For example, the reader can generate the autograph page so long as the author has given the reader's device the rights or permissions to do so. Once rights or permissions have been given, the reader can customize the look and feel of the autograph page.
In essence, the reader can prepare the autograph page for the author to sign, which can include where to on the page to place a photo with the author, where the author signs on the page, and where the author leaves a note on the page. This can prove to be useful at a book signing where the author grants rights or permissions to the reader's device to generate the autograph page and the readers themselves customize the autograph page to their liking, thus opening up the possibility of each reader having a unique format to their autograph page.
Controlling creation of the autograph page can prevent autograph pages from being used for an alternate purpose (e.g., a page where friends sign) and also prevent the generation of non-authentic autographs.
Autograph Coverage Zones
Apple notes that in some embodiments such as patent FIG. 4 noted above, the coverage area can be divided into multiple coverage zones, where different tasks are performed by the author's device or the reader's device depending on the coverage zone that the author's device or the reader's device is in. In other words, different coverage zones can be mapped to different tasks such that the task performed is based on the coverage zone that the reader's device is in. The coverage zones can be overlapping such as shown in system 400 where coverage zone 495 resides in the middle of coverage zone 490.
In one scenario, a reader is waiting in line at a book signing event. While waiting in line, the reader's device enters a first coverage zone (e.g., coverage zone 490). In response to the reader's device being within this coverage zone, the author's device can automatically transmit instructions to generate an autograph page in the copy of the eBook stored in the reader's device if an autograph page is missing.
When the reader is in the front of the line and the reader's device is next to the author or the author's device, the reader's device is within a second coverage zone (e.g. coverage zone 495). In response to the reader's device being within this coverage zone, the author's device can automatically transmit instructions to populate specific fields in the autograph page with predefined values.
For example, fields for the author's signature or the author's photo can be automatically filled in with predefined values. The predefined values can be user defined or default values. In some examples, the book signing application can randomly select a value from a number of predefined values for each field, thus preserving the appearance of personalization. This can speed up the book signing process by allowing the author to spend time on fields that personalize the autograph to the reader (such as a photo with the reader or a personalized note to the reader) and less time on the generic fields of the autograph.
Creating an Autograph
In Apple's patent FIG. 5 below we're able to see an exemplary device such as an iPad for creating autographs. The autograph can be generated on the author's device or alternatively on the reader's device. When the autograph is generated on the author's device, the autograph is transmitted to the reader's device after the autograph is completed. During creation of the autograph, feedback can be provided from both the author and the reader.
The autograph can be transmitted to the reader's device via a wired or wireless connection between the two devices or alternatively through servers or the cloud.
In Apple's patent FIG. 6 above we're able to see an exemplary system utilizing a capture application to create an author's signature. Some authors may prefer signing or writing a note on paper. In order to accommodate these authors, a camera application can be run on the author's device. The camera is configured to receive handwritten notes or signatures from a piece of paper and save the handwritten notes or signatures as elements that can be placed into fields of an autograph.
In other examples, the camera application can be expanded to capture a note from the author or a video of the author speaking. The autograph data can be captured, reviewed, and saved for subsequent attachment to autographs.
Authenticating an Autograph
The authenticity of an autograph can prove to be important to the author as a means for protecting his reputation. For example, fake autographs appearing to be from the author that include derogatory comments and/or images can hurt the reputation of the author. The author may also be interested in controlling the quality (and quantity) of the autographs that are circulated within the public and as such, autographs need to be authenticated. Besides the author, authenticity can also prove to be important to the reader. The reader may be interested in being able to validate to others that he did in fact meet the author. This can be particularly important if the reader were to try to sell his copy of the eBook to another person as an eBook that has been autographed by the author. Some of the methods already discussed above can help maintain the authenticity of an autograph. For example, controlling the creation of autograph pages/hot spots, controlling the creation of autographs, and including a photo (or video) with the author as part of the autograph are all ways of confirming that the author was the one that created the autograph. In some examples, the autograph can be further authenticated through the use of authentication certificates. Authentication certificates act as a proof of authenticity in that they are configured to authenticate an autograph in an eBook.
In Apple's patent FIG. 7 we're able to see an exemplary autograph authentication system. The system includes an author's device, an authentication certificate database, a reader's iPhone and a reader's iPad. In this example, autographs have already been generated and are stored on the readers' devices. The authentication certificates can be stored on the author's device, on a remote server, or on the cloud. The system illustrates how authentication certificates are generated and several methods for associating an authentication certificate with an eBook.
In Apple's patent FIG. 9 we a twist to an exemplary autograph generation system that differs from the system noted in patent FIG. 7 above. In this virtual signing system the autographs don't have to be written in person. This can allow the author to reach a broader audience versus in person signing events.
Here, the authentication can take place online, for example in a virtual chat room or through instant messaging. The virtual system illustrates an example of a virtual chat room with three parties including the author and two readers. The author can participate in the chat room via a book signing application on his device. Similarly, the readers can participate in the chat room via a reader application on their devices.
As readers enter the chat room, a user account identifier associated with the reader is provided to the author. The author can use the identifier to distinguish one reader from other readers in the chat room. If the identifier is unique, the author can also use the identifier as a key for encrypting transmissions to the reader. This provides security to ensure that the transmissions are only understood by the intended recipient. In some examples, the transmission can be the autograph or messages to the reader.
In other examples, the transmissions can include a video chat session between the reader and the author, wherein a portion of the video chat session can be incorporated as an element in a field of the autograph. Depending on implementation details, the video chat session can also serve as the identifier.
According to Apple, the author and the reader will be able to communicate back and forth, while using the reader's unique identifier as an encryption key, to sort through the details of the autograph. Once the autograph is complete and satisfactory to both parties, the autograph can be transmitted by the author to an online store such as iTunes. The online store associates the autograph with the user account or the eBook and then subsequently pushes the autograph to the reader's device. Thus, the reader in this example is a passive party to the autograph creation process and thus does not have the ability to edit or alter the autograph. This can be another possibility for providing security to the entire autograph process.
Apple credits Casey Dougherty and Melissa Hajj as the inventors of patent application 20130254284 which was originally filed in Q1 2012.
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