HarperCollins and S&S have both launched new services intended to give readers special access and contact with their favorite authors. HarperCollins has launched Bookperk.com, a website offering readers exclusive deals on merchandise and events, and S&S has launched an “Ask the Author” video channel with VYou.com that lets authors talk and engage their readers via videos posted in response to questions.

HarperCollins’ Bookperk.com is a new website based on the Groupon.com model that gives readers a change to get special stuff—from signed first editions and slip-cased titles to swag bags, private tours and chances to meet authors—offered at all manner of discount prices and exclusive deals.

Consumers can sign up to receive daily notifications from Bookperk.com about offers and exclusive deals that readers can then forward to their friends. Once a certain number of consumers sign-on for the deal—the sign-up numbers change for every item—everyone can get the offer.

HarperCollins product manager Claire Goldwitz said the new website, “offers a new opportunity to give readers the ultimate experience by customizing special offerings. Authors are going beyond the written word and connecting with their audiences by hosting cocktail parties and skype chats, calling into book clubs and hosting workout sessions.”

Charlie Redmayne, HarperColllins chief digital officer, said Bookperk offers, “a myriad of ways for consumers to discover books. Finding new authors and interests are increasingly happening online, and Bookperk is a great way to marry unique experiences with new and beloved authors.”

S&S’s “Ask The Author”

Simon & Schuster is launching “Ask the Author,” in partnership with Vyou.com, a website that offers an easy to use dedicated video channel that allows authors to videotape answers to fan’s questions and edit them into a videochat conversation.

Authors just need a computer with a webcam and then videotape responses to fan questions. The author’s video conversations will be posted on a dedicated channel at Vyou.com and on Simonandschuster.com’s reading group resources page and individual author pages. Ask The Author videos can also be posted on an author’s or on a fan’s webpage as well as on Facebook and Twitter. Authors Chris Cleve (Little Bee), Brad Thor (The Athena Project), L.A. Banks (Surrender the Dark) and Sarah Pekkanen (Skipping A Beat) are among the authors that will kick off the feature with video conversations and more authors will be added.

Ellie Hirschhorn, executive v-p, chief digital officer at Simon & Schuster, described “Ask The Author,” as “a fun and easy way for our authors to connect with their fans. We think this can be a valuable resource for fans and reading groups, allowing the author to answer reader’s questions directly on video, in a more intimate fashion than other forms of electronic communication. It's the closest we’ve yet come to an in-person interview between reader and author.”