'Rich Dad' author to release autographed e-book edition of 'Unfair Advantage'
Robert Kiyosaki has written more than a dozen titles under his "Rich Dad" brand of financial education books, which together have sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.
But the author known for his bestseller "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" is looking to do something a bit different with his latest release, "Unfair Advantage" -- he's selling digitally signed copies.
"Almost every time I do a book signing we have to turn people away, and someone doesn't get a book signed because there isn't enough time or the bookstore can't accommodate all the people who show up," Kiyosaki said in a recent interview. "And I travel a lot, but there are always cities we can't reach, people who want to make it to a signing but can't. With an e-book signing, everyone can buy a signed copy if they want. We can reach more people."
And in the process, sell more books too, he said.
"I feel like I've autographed about 500,000 books myself," Kiyosaki said.
"And I love getting to meet readers, but I also come from more of a marketing side, and you always need some kind of incentive to make things exciting and to get people to pay attention to you. Our job is to attract as many eyeballs as possible. And in the world of competition you have to do something different, and autographed e-books is something new."
Kiyosaki isn't the first to offer up a signed copy of an e-book, but his approach might be unique.
A new company in St. Petersburg, Fla., called Autography is working to build an application that would allow authors to send autographed pages to a consumer's e-reader, complete with personalized messages.
The signed e-book version of Kiyosaki's "Unfair Advantage" will only be available May 26 during a live chat streamed on the author's Facebook page.
The new version differs from the standard copy, which hit retail April 12, by offering a new page with a digital copy of the author's autograph, as well as a bonus chapter about the "corruption of capitalism" and extra photos.
As soon as the streamed chat is done, the special edition of the book will no longer be available for sale, said Shane Caniglia, vice president of the Rich Dad Operating Co., which hosts financial education seminars focused on the advice published in the "Rich Dad" books.
Kiyosaki said the idea came shortly after readers started offering up their Kindles and other e-readers up for him to sign, as opposed to the old dead-tree edition of his books.
"It really took me by surprise the first time someone handed me a Kindle and asked me to sign it," he said.
While the move is a first for the author, it isn't the first time he's done something a bit out of the norm digitally with his books.
"In 2008 when the whole Lehman Brothers crisis and Bear Stearns evolved, I gave away the book 'Conspiracy of the Rich' for free, as I was writing it," Kiyosaki noted. "And once the book was completed, we cut that off and started selling it, and it went right to the New York Times bestseller list.
"It was a lot of fun, and there are just a lot of cool things that you can do with technology as an author, and I want to be one of the authors to explore the possibilities."
But while e-books have clearly caught on, with digital books outselling their paper counterparts, there is no way to know whether signed e-books will become as strong a marketing tactic for authors as book tours and signing events have been.
"We won't know for another 10 years if this will be collectible or not," Kiyosaki said of the signed e-book. "I treasure my autographed books, and I have my old copies of books that I hold onto with the signed page and I cherish them. I don't know if a digital page with my signature will mean the same for someone as my signature in their book, on paper. But there's one way to find out."
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: Robert Kiyosaki at the Thubten Dhargye Ling Buddhist Center in Long Beach on Feb. 9, 2009. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times