Byliner, Simon & Schuster strike print deals for a digital era

Two separate announcements today reveal the interesting ways that print book deals are changing in an ebook world. The deals show print distribution is still important (print makes up 75 to 80 percent of trade book sales today) and that digital authors often find it easier to work with a partner rather than trying the print-on-demand route.

First, Simon & Schuster (s CBS) has bought the U.S. print rights to Wool, the bestselling self-published science fiction title by Hugh Howey. Howey retains the digital rights, but Simon & Schuster will release hardcover and print editions. “This is a modern twist on the old paperback license, but in this case Simon & Schuster will be publishing the hardcover and paperback editions simultaneously,” Julia Prosser, assistant director of publicity at S&S, told Digital Book World. “We’re thrilled to be able to help Wool achieve greater distribution at retail and bring this talented writer to a larger audience.”

Publishers Lunch notes that Howey “had already made a traditional publishing deal in the U.K. (with Century) and agent Kristin Nelson and her sub-agents have already licensed the book in over 18 territories” and also lists some other print-only deals publishers have made in recent months — including Simon & Schuster’s print-only deal last year with bestselling self-published author John Locke. And Fox (s NWS) and Ridley Scott bought the Wool film rights in May.

Logo BylinerSeparately, the San Francisco e-singles publisher Byliner signed a deal with distributor Ingram to distribute its titles in print. In the statement, Byliner publisher John Tayman said “we increasingly hear from our readers and writers that they would like our stories available in print as well as digital form,” and he believes the partnership with Ingram will provide “the expertise and unmatched distribution channel to deliver our writers’ stories to all of the great neighborhood brick-and-mortar bookstores.”