And Finally Artist News

Bob Dylan book buyers refunded after “hand signed” copies turn out not to be

By | Published on Tuesday 22 November 2022

Bob Dylan

Simon & Schuster has admitted that the 900 “hand signed” copies of Bob Dylan’s new book ‘The Philosophy Of Modern Song’ – which the publisher sold through its website – were not actually signed by either of Dylan’s hands. Or anyone else’s for that matter. An ‘auto pen’ machine was used instead.

Miffed fans – who forked out $599 for each signed copy of the book – discovered that they’d been hoodwinked when they started sharing photos of their signed books online. After they were shipped out to buyers last week, and recipients starting posting those photos, it very quickly became clear that every copy had an almost identical signature.

There had apparently been some effort to cover up the fact that Dylan hadn’t actually so much as glanced at any of these books. According to Variety, by Sunday afternoon, fans had identified seventeen slight variations of the machine drawn signature.

The publisher’s initial response was to deny that there was anything fishy about the books, saying that the signatures were legit and pointing to the letter of authenticity mailed out with each one. And you can’t argue with a letter of authenticity, can you?

Well, actually you can. And Dylan fans did. Because, let’s not forget, they’d all just paid over £500 for a book they believed had been stroked lovingly by Bob Dylan himself. And it was clear that nothing of the sort had happened.

Once it became clear that these people weren’t just going to shut up about all this, Simon & Schuster changed its stance, offering refunds to anyone who bought the ‘signed’ book. The twist in the story is that the publisher seemingly did believe that the signatures were real, and has implied that it was not the book firm itself that employed the auto pen technology.

In an email to those who complained, it said: “We apologise 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”.

In a further statement on social media, it added: “To those who purchased ‘The Philosophy Of Modern Song’ limited edition, we want to apologise. 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”.

So that’s over half a million dollars Simon & Schuster has just had to hand back. Not to mention the postage costs of sending out the books. Won’t someone think of the postage costs? Plus, if there’s any implication here that this was all Big Bob’s doing, there’s presumably an awkward phone call or two to be had.

‘The Philosophy Of Modern Song’ – 66 essays about very modern songs written between 1849 and 2003 – is out now. There’s also an audiobook version, which – in-keeping with this whole story – is not read by Bob Dylan. Although it’s not read by a mechanical impersonator either, which would have rounded this report off in a more satisfying manner. Damn you, Bob!