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Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books to offer physical e-book vouchers

Atria Books e-book vouchers [1]We’ve reported [2] a number [3] of times over the years [4] about small start-ups that are attempting to solve the quandary of the author autograph in the digital age.

A reader attending an in-person author appearance and hoping to walk away with a signed book, for instance, is clearly out of luck if she happens to only own the electronic version of the writer’s book. And so companies like Autography [5] and Kindlegraph [6] have devised some pretty unique solutions.

But autograph collecting is an obscure hobby. Aside from the novelty aspect, it’s not likely to interest many of us. A company known as Impact Mobile [7], however, recently teamed up with Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books [8] imprint to create something called digital e-book vouchers—and that’s an idea that is much likelier to catch on. Gift cards for e-books, for instance, have already proven somewhat successful.

The basic idea behind the Atria vouchers is this: They’ll allow authors to more effectively distribute their e-books to a much larger audience than would otherwise be possible.

According to a release:

e-book vouchers [9]“The e-book vouchers are unique codes that are pre-purchased by a sponsor or any third party; they can be distributed online or via mobile and redeemed as a free book download by event audiences at author speaking engagements and book signings. This vouchering system enables authors to quickly and efficiently distribute their digital e-books at speaker events and to communities of interest.”

The digital voucher system is currently being marketed, and even used, at the Mobile World Congress [10] in Barcelona, which ends tomorrow, February 28. Interesting enough, Impact Mobile’s CEO, Gary Schwartz, is also the author of Fast Shopper, Slow Store [11], a book (published through Atria, natch) “that shows how best to connect with your mobile consumer to drive revenue and loyalty. The book provides a step-by-step approach to harnessing and executing the digital strategies necessary for companies.”

Schwartz says the vouchers will be “[distributed] via traditional email and via mobile messaging inserts.” And Judith Carr, the Atria Publishing Group’s president, explains the product thusly:

“We’re pleased to work … on new ways to distribute and sell e-books. While readers can go to e-book storefronts and purchase copies of the book, there is no cross-storefront mechanism to allow for an author to sell thousands of copies of e-books at an event. The digital voucher system, devised by our colleagues at Simon & Schuster Digital, gives our authors an edge in a competitive landscape.”