Friday, September 23, 2011

10 Questions with Authorgraph Creator Evan Jacobs (@evanjacobs)

This Author Spotlight

Evan Jacobs

ebook autograph software

Have you ever had the opportunity to attend a book signing to meet one of your favorite authors, but you owned only the eBook edition of their book, so you whipped out a Sharpie and had them sign the back of your Kindle/Nook/Kobo/iPhone, and then ran home and slapped clear packing tape over the signature?

If you're anything like me, you have a special place in your heart for eBooks (and you've never done the above; well, maybe just that one time, since you're not allowed in that store anymore). eBooks are extremely convenient, weigh far less than a printed volume, and you can carry hundreds and hundreds of them on your choice of eReader.

But have you ever wished you could somehow get an autograph from one of your favorite writers for the eBook edition of their work?

Now you can. (I even got one from E.L. James, author of Fifty Shades of Grey)

I had the opportunity to chat with Evan Jacobs, who worked at Amazon as a programmer for nearly a decade. Seeing the chance to fill a cool niche, Evan invented the Authorgraph.

Read on for more!

1. How did you get into software development, leading to working with Amazon?

I’ve always had an interest in computers and I’ve been programming them since I was a kid. I studied math in college but I also became really interested in Internet applications. After college, I moved to Seattle and got a job at an advertising agency where I built websites for their clients. I really enjoyed it but I wanted to work at a company whose business *was* their website and that’s when I joined Amazon.

2. What is Authorgraph and how/when did you conceive it?

I came up with the idea for Authorgraph in order to satisfy a need that I had. I love to read and I love my Kindle but it felt weird to go to a book reading when I didn’t have a paper version of the book for the author to sign.

3. What is/was the DocuSign Hack-a-thon?

Some people hear the word “hack” and they think of people who illegally break into computer systems. Among programmers, “hack” means something much different. A “hack” is really just a computer program that is created in a unique way or does something surprising or unexpected and a “hackathon” is an event where programmers get together to build these programs (usually in a marathon coding session). The DocuSign Hackathon (where the first version of Authorgraph (originally known as Kindlegraph) was created) was a two-day event.

4. How does Authorgraph work?

Authorgraph uses the “Personal Document Service” that is available on the Kindle. This service lets people send documents directly to their Kindles. The Kindle was the first platform that I targeted (because I use a Kindle) but I plan to eventually support every e-reader.

5. Does Authorgraph work with a Kindle app on other devices? [I’ve been using it on my laptop]

Support for Kindle apps is one of the most requested features and it is coming really soon.

6. Do fans need to own the book for which they would like a Authorgraph?

No, there is no requirement to own or buy the book in order to receive an Authorgraph.

7. The Authorgraph website recently changed its number of author & books listings from 5000 books and 1000 authors to 6000 books from 1200 authors. It seems Authorgraph is really expanding quickly!

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the adoption of the service. There are now over 8000 books and almost 1800 authors available. I’m also very pleased with the wide variety of genres that are represented by all of the books and authors.

8. Tell us about your plans to recruit authors.

Initially I focused on recruiting authors because once authors have signed up then readers will follow. However, I haven’t really done any marketing to authors as most authors find out about the service from other authors (i.e. via word of mouth). I think this is the best kind of marketing and I’m going to try to continue to build a service that authors (and readers) want to tell each other about.

9. What’s next for Authorgraph?

The goal of Authorgraph has always been to help authors and readers connect more closely and I’m currently working on additional features to further that goal. Specifically, I want to help authors deliver their new works directly to their current readers as well as enable readers to discover new authors that they will love.

10. Would you mind sharing the titles of three of your favorite books, for which you would most like to have a Authorgraph?

I would love to get Authorgraphs from Steven Johnson (@stevenbjohnson) for “Where Good Ideas Come From”
Click HERE to purchase via Amazon
Neal Stephenson (@nealstephenson) for “Cryptonomicon”
Click HERE to purchase via Amazon.
and Matt Ruff (@bymattruff) for “Set This House in Order”.
Click HERE to purchase via Amazon.

So, Steve, Neal, and Matt, check out Authorgraph and join the 1800 authors who have already done so!

Thank you, Evan, for sharing your time and insight, and for creating Authorgraph!

And here's my Authorgraph to Evan for my heroic coming-of-age SciFi novel A SHADOW PASSED OVER THE SON, as featured on
Click HERE to purchase via Amazon.

To get an Authorgraph of your very own, or to search for one of your favorite authors, visit

And if you don't have a Kindle, it's okay; you can still get an Authrograph as a .pdf via email.

Also be sure to follow Evan Jacobs on Twitter: @authorgraph or @evanjacobs.

Lastly, if you've not yet done so, check out the above books by Steven Johnson, Neal Stephenson, and Matt Ruff; they're brilliant writers each!

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