Comic-Con San Diego will be crawling with rabid YA book fans this weekend, making it an ideal place for Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing and Brooklyn-based mobile strategy and software company Mobile Commons to kick off a new mobile program that allows readers to connect with authors via text messaging. Comic-Con attendees who participate will have the opportunity to win prizes during the convention, and can choose to continue using the text communication option after the show concludes.

Bestselling author Scott Westerfeld will launch the text messaging channel at Comic-Con. Fans can text SCOTT to 877877 (message and data rates apply) to enter for the chance to have coffee with Westerfeld on Saturday afternoon. The author, who will take part in a Sunday panel called “What’s Hot in Young Adult Fiction,” is game for the promotion. “The best thing about spaces like Comic-Con is getting to meet fans of my work,” he said in a statement. “This contest is a fun way to pick one reader to talk to in depth. I look forward to meeting the winner!” Post Comic-Con, those readers who entered the contest will receive text messages from Westerfeld about his books and opportunities to meet him, and will be able to respond directly to him.

Those who aren’t making the trip to San Diego can still feel like part of the scene just by using the new program. Readers can sign up for S&S’s general text message list and receive updates during Comic-Con week by texting COMIC to 877877 (message and data rates apply). The publisher will also be raffling off additional prizes including a custom-painted guitar inspired by Tonya Hurley’s book The Blessed (Sept.). Fans can text BLESSED to 877877 (message and data rates apply) to enter this contest, which ends Sunday night, when Comic-Con closes.

A texting venture has been in the planning stages at S&S for a while now, according to v-p and deputy publisher Mara Anastas. “We’ve been talking about it for a couple of years,” she says. “As smart phones began to proliferate and we began to use a number of social media to promote our books, we knew that one component was missing: texting,” she says. “We wanted to reach kids where they are spending most of their time, and they are texting 24/7.” Anastas is enthusiastic about partnering with Mobile Commons on the project. “Mobile Commons had all the right elements,” she says. Considered a leader in the marketing technology field, Mobile Commons provides a platform that “helps us achieve our end goal of delivering content to our readers where and when they want it.”

Going forward, the texting platform could be used in a variety of ways, according to Anastas. Potential examples include having readers text a code to receive sample chapters of a forthcoming book, or having conference attendees at such shows as BEA, ALA or NCTE text a code to enter contests or receive promotions or content.