For about $600, people could buy limited editions of Bob Dylan’s new book, “The Philosophy of Modern Song,” with the promise of the book being hand-signed by the famed musician himself. Now, the book and its publisher are under fire as buyers revealed that the supposed hand signature was actually a replica.
A now-erased webpage for Simon & Schuster, the book’s publisher, offers an “exclusive edition” of the book “guaranteed to be personally hand-signed by Bob Dylan.” The listing price for the book was $599, final sale, with no returns accepted. Meanwhile, the unsigned copy of the book is listed by the publisher for $45.
Simon & Schuster is a division of Paramount Global, as is CBS News.
The book even came with a letter from the publisher’s president and CEO, Jonathan Karp, dated November 15, that further guarantees the signature’s authenticity.
“You hold in your hands something very special, one of just 900 copies available in the US of The Philosophy of Modern Song signed by Bob Dylan. This is Bob’s first book of new writing since Chronicles, Volume One, published in 2004, and since winning the Nobel Prize in literature in 2016,” the letter states, ending with a simple promise, “This letter is confirmation that the copy of the book you hold has been hand-signed by Bob Dylan.”
But when buyers of these limited editions got their copies, they were shocked to find that the signature was not hand-signed. It was a computer-printed replica.
The revelations of the replica signature emerged a month ago, before many people received their books. One YouTuber popular for promoting fan mail and autograph collecting posted a video on October 21 that showed a signed copy of the book that someone had acquired through Canadian bookseller Indigo.
“It was painfully clear that it was never signed by Bob,” the YouTuber says, saying it was clearly made by a machine for a number of reasons. “…It just doesn’t look like Bob’s signature. Secondly, the lines are 100% uniform and have distinctive starting and stopping points.”
And finally, he said, “at 81 years old, you would expect to see some shake in his signature.”
“If you ordered a copy, now’s your time to cancel,” he warned.
One person who purchased the book said on Reddit that it looks like it had been signed with an “auto-pen,” a machine that reproduces someone’s signature.
“Definitely NOT a real signature,” another person tweeted this week after getting their copy of the book. “I have 3 actual Bob autos that look nothing like this. Anyway, glad I’m getting my money back. The letter is a complete joke.”
Simon & Schuster publicly addressed the situation on Sunday, issuing an apology to those who purchased the supposedly hand-signed book.
“As it turns out, the limited edition books do contain Bob’s original signature, but in penned replica form,” the statement says. “We are addressing this immediately by providing each purchaser with an immediate refund.”
Dylan has not publicly commented on the signature snafu.
The book was originally announced in March for a November 8 publication. It’s the legendary singer and songwriter’s first book of new writing since his 2004 book “Chronicles, Volume One.” In it are more than 60 of Dylan’s essays about music and songs, in which he breaks down their rhymes and syllables and shows how genres are intertwined – even bluegrass and heavy metal.