Bob Dylan Fans Who Bought $600 ‘Hand-Signed Books’ Receiving Refunds After Signatures Found to be Machine-Made

by Craig Garrett
(Photo by Matthew Baker/Getty Images)

Distraught Bob Dylan fans who spent $599 to buy 900 “hand-signed” copies of his new book are set to receive refunds. This comes after the publisher, Simon & Schuster, admitted Sunday afternoon that complaints regarding the signatures being mechanical duplicates were valid.

The publisher took to Twitter to offer an apology to upset music fans. “To those who purchased the ‘Philosophy of Modern Song’ limited edition, we want to apologize,” Simon & Schuster wrote. “As it turns out, the limited edition books do contain Bob’s original signature, but in a penned replica form. We are addressing this information by providing each purchaser with an immediate refund.”

On Friday, the books started arriving to buyers who began sharing pictures and notes of their find, Variety reports. They quickly realized that the signatures in their new book were apparently done via “autopen,” a machine that captures and reproduces real signatures. As of early Sunday afternoon, before the publisher acknowledged any wrongdoing, buyers sharing photos in public forums had already identified 17 different signature variations that were being used.

Bob Dylan has hand signed books and art in the past

The publisher had been previously refusing requests for refunds from customers who paid $599 for the books. The company claimed that each book was hand-signed and thus authentic, as stated in a letter included with each volume from the head of the company.

We certainly understand any concerns you may have,” Simon & Schuster wrote. “However – Each individual copy of the limited signed edition of Bob Dylan’s THE PHILOSOPHY OF MODERN SONG was personally signed by the author and is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from the publisher of Simon & Schuster.”

All customers who made a purchase received a letter signed by Jonathan Karp, the CEO of the publishing company. “You hold in your hands something very special, one of just 900 copies available in the U.S.,” the letter stated. “This letter is confirmation that the copy of the book you hold in your hand has been hand-signed by Bob Dylan.”

The email, also signed by Karp, is an apology for the gaff. “We apologize for the mistake that was made and are offering a full refund of your purchase. Please keep your copy of ‘The Philosophy of Modern Song’ at no cost. We hope you will enjoy reading it.”

Many celebrities have been accused of using autopen, which is a machines that signs items for them, to save time. It’s frowned upon in the collector world because it takes away from the value of an item.

The duplications were easily noticeable, so it’s doubtful that Simon & Schuster was trying to trick buyers. Nevertheless, people will still wonder how the company thought the books were signed by individuals. Dylan has occasionally offered limited-edition autographed copies of his artwork or book in the past. Fans who pay close attention generally believe that those items were hand-signed.