Deadline revealed last week that 20th Century would acquire film rights to Hugh Howey book Wool, an e-book being called science fiction’s answer to Fifty Shades Of Grey. Here’s the confirmation:

RANDOM HOUSE’S CENTURY ACQUIRES NEW SELF-PUBLISHED PHENOMENON HUGH HOWEY WITH FILMS RIGHTS SNAPPED UP BY RIDLEY SCOTT AND STEVE ZAILLIAN FOR 20th CENTURY FOX

After a fierce bidding war reminiscent of Fifty Shades of Grey, 20th Century Fox has just acquired the film rights. Ridley and Tony Scott’s Scott Free are partnering on the deal with Film Rites’ Steve Zaillian and Garrett Basch. Kassie Evashevski at United Talent Agency brokered the deal on behalf of Kristin Nelson at NLA.

In the spirit of The Hunger Games, Wool is a high-concept novel set in a stark future; the air outside is no longer breathable, so the last community on Earth lives underground in an enormous silo. Survival is everything, and some will do anything to ensure it. The upcoming Shift Trilogy is a prequel to the story of Wool.

After a hotly contested 5-way auction, Jack Fogg, Editorial Director at Century has acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to Wool and The Shift Trilogy by Hugh Howey from Jenny Meyer at Jenny Meyer Literary Agency on behalf of Kristin Nelson, president of The Nelson Literary Agency (NLA).

Much like EL James’s Fifty Shades trilogy, Wool has become a word-of-mouth sensation since the author self-published on Amazon.com, garnering over 600 five-star reviews and selling over 140,000 copies through e-book in just under six months. Century is the author’s only English-language publisher as the author will continue to self-publish in the US. Century will publish in hardback in January 2013 with an Arrow paperback in August. Ebook will be available immediately.

Foreign rights deals have also been struck in Spain, Brazil, Taiwan, Poland and China and offers are pending in Germany and other territories.

Hugh Howey says ‘I couldn’t be more thrilled and honoured to find a home with Century and Random House. And I hope I spelled honoured right.’

Jack Fogg says, ‘Wool drew me in from the first page. It’s such an intricately realised world – both incredibly visceral and visual – but for me, and for the many fans here at Random House, what really captivated was the book’s compassion and care for its characters. Wool is many things, but at its core it is a novel about relationships and therein lays its brilliance.’

Kristin Nelson says, ‘We did have conversations with US publishers and although we received several six-figure offers, we decided that the partnership didn’t make sense yet given the current electronic royalty rate being offered. We certainly have not closed the door to interested US parties.’

Hugh Howey spent eight years living on boats and working as a yacht captain for the rich and famous. It wasn’t until the love of his life carried him away from these vagabond ways that he began to pursue literary adventures, rather than literal ones. Hugh also wrote and self-published his first young adult novel, Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue.