Bol.com

The Impossible
Signing Sessions

A stunt in which 8 world-renowned authors signed non-stop for 12 days
Challenge

At the hugely popular book fair in the Belgian city of Antwerp, numerous signings are the focal point every year. Fans meet their favourite authors there, children their comic-strip heroes and sports fans their idols. For bol.com too, the literary event is a repeated highlight that is worked towards for months. As an online bookshop, the book fair is the only time when they actually meet their customers. So they want to make that contact unforgettable.

Idea

In collaboration with the Antwerp Research & Design Lab Beyond, DDB Brussels created a technological signing robot which analysed, parsed and then reconstructed all the signatures and manuscripts of the famous authors. Bol managed to involve names such as Nicci French, Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train), Andy Griffiths (The Treehouse Books), David Baldacci (The Last Mile), David Lagercrantz (Millennium 4), Robert Harris (Imperium) and – perhaps most impressively of all – Paul van Ostaijen. The Flemish poet and modernist prose writer died in 1928 but is still in our collective memory as the iconic author of the typographic poem ‘Boem Paukeslag’.

Results

The signing robot placed
over a thousand signatures

The most popular writer turns out to be
Paul Van Ostaijen

Some facts

All the authors were highly enthusiastic participants in this project.

The ‘impossible signing sessions’ coincide with the 100-year commemoration of Paul van Ostaijen.

“We were keen straight away. Such a robot arm seemed the best way of representing Paul to us.”

– Matthijs de Ridder