Smashwords offers service to publishers

Received the following press release from Smashwords. It's nice to see the company expanding its service.

swlogo.pngSmashwords, an e-book publishing platform and online bookstore that launched one year ago to serve self-published authors, today expanded its focus to serve publishers as well.

Smashwords helps book publishers make the transition to e-books, and offers an attractive alternative to traditional online retail outlets because it pays publishers 85 percent the net proceeds from sales of their titles. Ebooks are sold to customers DRM-free and multi-format, making them readable on any e-reading device. ...

The Smashwords service is free to publishers. Each publisher is provided a custom-branded online bookstore, and can list an unlimited number of e-book titles from an unlimited number of authors. Publishers gain access to numerous free promotion and selling tools offered by Smashwords, including the popular Smashwords Coupon Generator which makes it easy to run creative promotions across online social networks, blogs and web sites.

“Smashwords makes it easy for publishers to publish, promote and sell their e-books,” said Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords. “Publishers simply upload their books as Microsoft Word .doc or .RTF files and we automatically convert them into multiple e-book formats, ready for immediate sale online at a price set by the publisher. Our books are also distributed in the native catalog of Stanza, the popular e-reading app used by over 1.5 million iPhone and iPod Touch owners to read ebooks.”

Prior to Smashwords introducing a publisher solution, publishers had difficulty listing titles with Smashwords because the service was architected for individual self-publishing authors, as opposed to multi-author publishers.

11 Comments on Smashwords offers service to publishers

  1. Smashwords is a smart solution to the problem of online ebook selling. Independent presses and individual authors needed an alternative to the big-name booksellers that take an exorbitant share of the selling price. Smashwords is the prototype of ebookstores of the future.

    Thus, many times, on the web, and in my book, I’ve praised Smashwords. I’m a 99% fan. But I’m not selling my ebooks there. Why not?

    The Smashwords PDF files can’t be read on my iMac. (Even the Smashwords PDF manual can’t be read.)
    And I don’t like the looks of the Smashwords ePub files.

    I would like to upload my own complete files, ready for selling, in the formats PDF and ePub. I can upload my own files when I sell ebooks via Lulu, or on e-Junkie.

    Mark, give me that option, and you’ll have one more publisher on your team. … And maybe others.

    Michael Pastore
    50 Benefits of Ebooks

  2. I’m one of the test publishers working with SmashWords. I’ve found them easy and pleasant to work with. I hope they continue to grow–we definitely need distribution options and the more generous payback compared to other distributors means more money coming back to the author and publisher which is definitely a good thing.

    Rob Preece
    Publisher

  3. Hi Michael! Hopefully we can make you a 100% fan some day! We’ve considered allowing publishers to upload their own files. Although we haven’t ruled it out completely, here’s why we’ve been reluctant to date: 1. We want to be the single throat to choke. If a customer buys a book and can’t open it, we want to support them, and it’s difficult for us to diagnose and fix a problem if we didn’t create the file. 2. We don’t want DRM sneaking on to Smashwords, because we promise customers the files are DRM-free. Some publishers, working with third party conversion vendors, might accidentally upload such files.

    For the PDF issue, it’s possible it’s a Mac-specific issue with how they handle PDF. Here’s a support document from Apple that might provide some clues? http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=611791

    @Rob – We’re thrilled to work with you, Rob!

  4. Funny. I used to think Smashwords was a good idea, but then I actually tried to read one of their books. Very badly formatted in the only format I could read at all. Then I started looking around and noticed that many, many of their books are so badly formatted that they’re unreadable. Many rtf’s can’t even be downloaded. Many txt files have no line breaks at all. Many pdf’s are corrupt – I haven’t found one I can open yet.

    It’s amazing how many of us don’t actually sample the product before singing it’s praises.

  5. Hi again, Mark!

    I do want to repeat: I am a very enthusiastic Smashwords fan and supporter! … And I know that Smashwords is relatively new, and that you are improving it continually.

    Mark is doing worlds of good for the ebook industry: and here is a very educational video (about 44 minutes) from the TOC conference that shows Mark and other ebook pioneers:
    http://blip.tv/file/2001314/

    Back to the PDFs … The Smashword PDFs do not open with my Mac Viewer, “PreView”. And that’s the way most Mac users want to view them.

    Here’s how problems # 1 and # 2 might be managed: with an optional “Smashwords Publisher Approval Program”. Publishers who would like to upload their own PDF and ePub files (those two file types only) would first agree not to use DRM; and also be required to submit some samples to you, to prove that they know how to create valid ePubs and PDFs. It’s simple enough to validate the ePubs using the ==ePub validator– on threepress.org. These “SPAP certifed” publishers might also need to agree to help with tech support for their files if problems arise. And it’s not only about getting files that work: it’s about getting a book design that is unique to each publisher.

    @Christine:
    Hello Christine: Smashwords offers many free ebooks by contemporary authors. … Give them a chance, and I’m sure that the formatting issues will be resolved soon.

    Michael Pastore
    50 Benefits of Ebooks

  6. I am wrong! … I tested a Smashwords file 6 months ago, and one month ago, and the PDFs did not open.

    Just now I’ve downloaded the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide: and it opens easily with my Preview on the Mac.
    http://tinyurl.com/dn59zr

    I apologize, Mark.

    Now I’m up to fan level 99.5 percent. (Still want to upload my own stuff.)

    Keep up the great work,

    Michael Pastore
    50 Benefits of Ebooks

  7. @christine – The first book you accessed was a free book that had been removed by the author. It was our mistake that you were even able to access it, and thanks to you we discovered and repaired the bug in our system. We provide our authors detailed instructions on how to format their books for best results, so it’s quite possible in followup visits you viewed books for which the authors ignored the instructions. When readers contact us about problems they discover, we work with the authors to resolve the problem to the satisfaction of the customer, or, even the person downloading it for free. We find our authors are very responsive, even for free books. Luckily, the vast vast majority of our readers have better experiences than you describe. I encourage you to keep using us, and if you find problems, email us so we can investigate.

    @ Michael. Glad it’s working now! We’ll work on that 1/2 of 1% later on. :)

  8. I look forward to seeing progress and success for Smashwords. After months of consideration I added my four novels to the system. I think Smashwords has wonderful potential and any publisher large or small would be nuts not to use Smashwords and get behind this model.

  9. I must agree with those who call for uploading formatted files. The one-throat-to-choke method is restrictive.

    It can be real hell trying to get even an RTF or DOC file to come out good:
    http://ebooktest.blogspot.com/2009/05/publishing-on-smashwords.html

    As I’ve told Mark, he needs to update his Guidelines.

  10. @ mark – You don’t seem to think free ebooks are important. You seem to think by giving away a free ebook, you’re doing US a favor. But it definitely goes both ways, and you stand to gain or lose more than I do.

    The fact that many of your free ebooks are unreadable is good enough reason for me to NEVER buy a book on your site. It would be stupid, knowing the chances are good that I won’t be able to read it.

  11. @christine – On the contrary, free books are VERY important to us, which is why we provide the same level of responsive customer support readers and authors of free books as we do for paid.

    About a month ago, we updated the home page to make it easier to locate our free books (previously, we didn’t have a link to sort by free), and in the months ahead you’ll see us do more to make free books even more accessible.

    As you know, at the top of every page on Smashwords is a link that reads, “Comments/questions about this page? Click here!” Few businesses anywhere provide such easy access to customer support. If there’s a file you want to access, and you think the file is unreadable, then let us know. We’ll contact the author or publisher and work with them to fix it.

The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail newteleread@gmail.com.

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