Bob Dylan blames vertigo for using autopen on pricey book

Bob Dylan hasn’t autographed hundreds of copies of his new book, The Philosophy of Modern Song. Now he says his decision to digitally sign the expensive editions instead was a “misjudgment.”

The “Like a Rolling Stone” singer addressed the controversy on Facebook on Saturday after fans, who each paid $600 for the signed, limited edition book, complained about suspicious similarities between their respective purchases – after the publishing house Simon & Schuster enclosed a copy with each letter confirming the authenticity of the musician’s “hand-signed” work.

“It has been brought to my attention that there is some controversy over signatures on some of my recent artwork and on a limited edition Philosophy Of Modern Song. I’ve hand signed every single art print over the years and there’s never been a problem,” the 81-year-old Pulitzer Prize-winning Nobel Prize winner wrote on Facebook.

From there, the music legend explained how the COVID-19 pandemic and his battle with vertigo — a condition that gives people the false sense that they or those around them are spinning or moving — have further prevented him from doing so in recent years to meet contractual deadlines.

“[I]In 2019 I had a bad vertigo that continued into the pandemic years. It takes a crew of five working closely with me to make these autograph sessions possible and we could not find a safe, practical way to do what I needed to do while the virus was raging. So during the pandemic it was impossible to sign anything and the scam didn’t help,” the singer-songwriter explained. “Given contractual deadlines, the idea of ​​using an auto-pen was suggested to me, along with reassurances that such a thing would be done ‘all the time’ in the art and literary world.”

“The use of a machine was a misjudgment and I would like to correct that immediately. I’m working with Simon & Schuster and my gallery partners to do just that,” he added, signing the note with “my deepest regrets.”

“Autopen” is a digital reproduction of a real signature. Customers said they noticed at least 17 variations of Dylan’s writing when comparing their books.

Simon & Schuster, who also apologized for the signatures last week, pulled the book from sale and began the process of immediately and automatically refunding all customers who bought the book, a company spokesman told The Times.

"The philosophy of modern song Bob Dylan" book cover

The cover of Bob Dylan’s The Philosophy of Modern Song.

(Simon & Schuster)

The Philosophy of Modern Song, which was released November 1 and is Dylan’s first book since his 2004 memoir Chronicles: Volume One, consists of 66 chapters about 66 of his favorite songs by artists such as Nina Simone, Elvis Presley and Willie Nelson, the Clash, the Who and his childhood hero, Little Richard. Only 900 of the $600 limited edition were available in the US, and each came with a letter from Jonathan Karp, Simon & Schuster’s CEO, that served as “acknowledgment of this.” [each] Copy autographed by Bob Dylan.”

“We would like to apologize to all buyers of the Limited Edition of THE PHILOSOPHY OF MODERN SONG. As it turns out, the limited-edition books feature Bob’s original signature, but in a pen-written recreation,” the publisher said in a statement. “We’re addressing this immediately by providing every buyer with an immediate refund.”

Karp also personally replied to those who emailed him, informing them of the upcoming refund and saying they could keep their copy of the book for free, a spokesman said last week.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/books/story/2022-11-28/bob-dylan-autopen-signature-book-apology Bob Dylan blames vertigo for using autopen on pricey book

Sarah Ridley

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