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David Beckham ‘digital book signing’ rhymes with fullspit

Today in news I’ve stared at for a good half hour and still can’t believe is actually happening: next week David Beckham will launch his latest book, the self-titled David Beckham, his fourth volume of memoirs and his first since 2003’s Beckham: Both Feet on the Ground (so watch out Donna Tartt, looks like you’re not the only one publishing this fortnight with a decade’s worth of anticipation behind you). That’s not so unbelievable in and of itself as far as these things go (although michty me, the fourth) but it’s being launched amidst a tsunami of meaningless PR speak lacking the soulful charm of the carnival hucksters to whose spirit it seemingly aspires. Again, not so unbelievable, but this is a particularly pernicious exercise in bilking the public: in what is being billed as a ‘global digital book signing‘, Beckham will sit in a room in central London, whilst ticket winners (ticket winners!) from London, New York, Hyderabad and Sao Paolo receive personalised digital signatures from him, of the kind that could in no way be made up by a lackey with access to Google Images and photo editing software. Just think – in years to come, these lucky ticket winners can tell their grandchildren that they too once saw David Beckham from thousands of miles away on a computer screen, just like everyone else on the planet did thousands of times between 1997 and 2034, when the Great Apple War conclusively wiped out all technology more advanced than the spork. Note, in all of this, that no actual books will themselves be signed.

The happening will be broadcast at 3pm UK time on 31 October via Beckham’s Facebook page, with a live Q&A included in proceedings and yet more of those precious, precious digital signatures for anyone whose question is asked. Questions will be taken from fans all over the world, as opposed to just those in the above mentioned cities who for some reason are the only ones eligible to receive signatures that can be transmitted anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds via the electronic telepathy you and I know as the internet without a whit of difference made to the effort expended by Beckham, who will remain in that room in London at all times.

Says Beckham of the endeavour, presumably with a straight face: ‘I always like innovative and original ideas. What has been created is ambitious, but it should be a fantastic event. I love the interaction with my fans, but not only will I be able to do this in London, I will be able to sign for them in locations across the world,’ happily ignoring the fact that he will actually be signing for some of them from London, and won’t actually be signing anything of great personal value to them that they can cherish for years, or even meet them, however briefly, to really add a personal touch to their message.

Glenn Miller, who leads entertainment partnerships for Facebook across EMEA and sounds just awful, described proceedings as ‘a completely new way to launch books’, i.e. cynically and exploitatively with the minimum of effort and personal engagement with people who will actually buy your book, because ew, gross.

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Chris Ward

Chris Ward

Chris Ward writes and says things about books and music and films and what have you, even when no one is reading or listening.
He was chief hack and music editor of webzine Brazen from 2006 to 2010, and hosted Left of the Dial on Subcity Radio from 2008 to 2011.
He can be heard semi-regularly on the podcast of Scottish cultural blog Scots Whay Hae ('20th best website in Scotland!' - The List), and in 2011 founded Seen Your Video, a film and music podcast and blog based in Glasgow. He has a Masters degree in Scottish Literature from the University of Glasgow that will never have any practical application. You are on a hiding to nothing if you follow him on Twitter expecting any kind of hot publishing scoop.

Comment

  • I don’t think this is as disparaging as you make light of. Margaret Atwood ‘invented’ the ‘Long Pen’ a few years back, and with all this technology lying around (and with most in the publishing industry acting like luddites), at least somebody’s trying new things.?. We accept even what I am doing right now with this comment as valid discussion … I for one, have disdain for all the ‘signed copies’ and festivl style nonsense – perhaps someone might actually get curious and read in the future, instead of looking for the autograph?

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