With newspaper companies searching for new ways to deliver content beyond the traditional printed newspaper, USA Today has struck licensing deals with several publishers for an array of book projects.

“It seemed like the place to go,” said Susan Lavington, senior v-p of marketing for the Gannett-owned newspaper. USA Today has reached agreements with Nolo Press, Sterling Publishing, Sports Publishing, Andrews McMeel, Multimedia and Mead Westvaco to produce books, a magazine and calendars from its content.

“We could have gone with a big publisher,” Lavington said, “but we decided to go with a few smaller publishers, which were experts in their fields, and where USA Today would be the primary brands.” She said the small publishers saw nuances in the newspaper company’s brand and had creative ideas on how to create book products from its content.

Nolo will copublish a 12-book series of business and legal guides that will contain both Nolo and USA Today content. The first books will be published in February 2008 and they will carry the logos of both companies. This August, Sports Publishing will publish 25 Years of USA Today, a collectible hardcover book, and reissue a paperback edition of The Making of McPaper, The Inside Story of USA Today, originally produced for the paper’s fifth anniversary. This spring, Andrew McMeel is publishing five USA Today puzzle books and will release a 2008 Day-to-Day Sudoku Puzzle calendar in the fall. Multimedia Publishing, a magazine publisher, is already producing a monthly USA Today Sudoku puzzle magazine. With Mead Westvaco Consumer Products, USA Today will produce a Year-in-a-Box Multi-Puzzle calendar.

USA Today began its search for partners at last year’s BEA and was impressed with the variety of ideas from publishers on how it could extend its brand with books.

“Nolo came up with the idea of books that could be read on a cross-country flight. That fit with USA Today, which is all about getting information without wasting people’s time,” said Lavington.

“It seemed like a really good fit for us,” said Mary Randolph, senior v-p of editorial at Nolo. The two parties are just now developing the first titles, but Randolph said they would be topics within Nolo’s areas of expertise: law, small business, retirement and real estate.

Looking ahead, Lavington said USA Today sees travel and children’s educational books as other areas for which the company would like to find licensing partners. To develop its book projects, USA Today is working with Linda Morgenstern from the Nancy Bailey corporate brand licensing agency, who has 15 years of experience in New York book publishing.