Bob Dylan Fans Quickly Spot the Bogus Autograph

Publisher Simon & Schuster issues refund after singer's books were signed with autopen
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 23, 2022 2:00 AM CST
Bob Dylan Fans Sniff Out a Fishy Autograph
This cover image released by Simon & Schuster shows "The Philosophy of Modern Song" by Bob Dylan.   (Simon & Schuster via AP)

No fewer than 900 diehard Bob Dylan fans shelled out $600 for hand-signed copies of the legend's new book, The Philosophy of Modern Song. One problem: These same diehard fans quickly realized the autograph didn't look quite right, reports Variety. It was a little too ... inhuman. Fans started sharing notes with each other at sites such as Autograph Live and came to a conclusion: The autograph came from an "autopen," not the hand of their beloved Dylan. That is, it was based on his autograph, but it was actually written by a machine. After initially doubling down on its authenticity claims, publisher Simon & Schuster soon issued a mea culpa, per the New York Times.

"To those who purchased The Philosophy of Modern Song limited edition, we want to apologize," the company wrote on social media. "As it turns out, the limited edition books do contain Bob’s original signature, but in a penned replica form. We are addressing this immediately by providing each purchaser with an immediate refund." As Rolling Stone notes, what rankled some buyers in particular is that their book came with a letter of authentication from S&S CEO Jonathan Karp. "This letter is confirmation that the copy of the book you hold in your hand has been hand-signed by Bob Dylan," he wrote.

Neither Dylan nor his Columbia Records label have commented on the controversy. The Times notes that celebs from Dolly Parton to Brian Wilson to Ozzy Osbourne have at times been accused of using an autopen, and the story notes that most fans are cutting Dylan himself some slack. "I, personally, would assume Bob Dylan was not involved in this," says Laura Tenschert, who hosts the "Definitely Dylan" podcast. (It's not like the 81-year-old Dylan is hurting for money.)

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