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International authors take part in unprecedented virtual book signing

Writers who cannot travel to Catalonia for Sant Jordi can still autograph books thanks to an application and robotic arm


21 April 2021 11:50 AM


Scarlett Reiners | Barcelona

With Catalonia’s Sant Jordi literary festival just around the corner, several dozen readers were able to join an online meeting on Monday and Tuesday with renowned authors from all over the world such as Isabel Allende and Jonas Jonasson. As part of the initiative, lucky fans were also able to get their books signed by their favourite writers, all thanks to technology. 

Abacus Cooperative, Penguin Random House, and SolidPerfil 3D, a Catalan 3D printing firm, have combined their efforts to put on this unprecedented event, going one step beyond just connecting authors and readers virtually, but also employing robotics to sign people’s copies in Barcelona on behalf of their writers. 

The participating acclaimed writers included Isabel Allende, Jonas Jonasson, Yuval Noah Harari, Alex Michaelides, Niklas Natt och Dag and Pierre Lemaitre.

“I think it’s magic,” commented Allende from her home in Chile as her signature now appears in delighted readers’ books across the Atlantic.

Patricia Chiarini, from Italy who took part in the event said: “It’s strange but fun because afterwards you see that the signature actually is real!

Her book was virtually signed by Swedish writer Jonas Jonasson on Monday. 

With the help of an application and a robotic arm, authors were able to write their personalised signatures in their own homes which are then immediately reproduced onto the physical copies of readers in the Espai Abacus bookshop in Barcelona. The 50 guests were then also given a few minutes to speak with their chosen author via videoconference.

Allende said that she does not believe that it will be long before she will be able to “hug” fans “as a hologram, or something like that”, with the rapid pace that technology is advancing.

Jonasson also expressed his awe towards the new virtual event, commenting that “it’s fantastic what us humans can do”, especially regarding the alternative ways of doing things that have been thought up during the global pandemic.


  • Signature on a book from author Jonas Jonasson made remotely from Sweden through an application and robotic arm (by Pau Cortina)

  • Signature on a book from author Jonas Jonasson made remotely from Sweden through an application and robotic arm (by Pau Cortina)