Atria Books e-book vouchersWe’ve reported a number of times over the years 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 and Kindlegraph 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, however, recently teamed up with Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books 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“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 in Barcelona, which ends tomorrow, February 28. Interesting enough, Impact Mobile’s CEO, Gary Schwartz, is also the author of Fast Shopper, Slow Store, 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.”