Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Who to Choose? Part 3

Currently reading - Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters

JUST A REMINDER: Over the next few posts, I'll be reviewing the some of the players in non-traditional book distribution. I DO NOT advocate any particular company. What you'll be reading is my thought process as I work through my decision-making. I can, and probably will, make a ton of mistakes. Your mileage may vary.

Next up in my analysis of e-book retailer/distributors is Smashwords.  The little upstart that could was founded in 2008 by Mark Coker.  In addition to presenting an outlet for indie publishers, Smashwords also acts as a distributor to the major retailers such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and Apple.

Like Amazon and B&N, Smashwords provides a comprehensive formating guide.  For me, one of the major pluses is the ability to upload my books while still in MS Word, instead of reformatting them into HTML.  Smashwords than reformats to MOBI (i.e. the format for the Kindle) or ePUB (i.e. the format used by both the Nook and the iPad).

Smashwords pays 85% on books sold on their website.  For books distributed to and sold through other retailers, the rate drops to 60%.  Unfortunately, Smashwords only pays royalties on a quarterly basis.  Though for me, one major plus is the ability to generate coupons for your customers to use on Smashwords.

Also, there were issues with Kobo discounting books distributed to it by Smashwords.  Under Amazon's terms for price matching/no book under $0.99, the discounting war left many folks with unintentionally free books on Amazon.  In a November 1, 2010, press release, Coker announced a new agency agreement with Kobo to prevent such problems in the future.

As of this writing, Smashwords has a relatively tiny share of the e-books market, but the company has the potential to grow with its flexibility.


  1. I have never heard of Smashwords. Hmmmm...think I'll do some more research. Thank you. You're giving me great information and lots to think about!

  2. Oops! Forgot to put the link to Smashwords.

    Savannah, one of the nicest things about Smashwords (fron a reader's perspective) is the ease of use and the fact that you can download your purchase in as many e-forms as you want.

    From the old writer's perspective, I think, "Crap! That's like buying the mass-market paperback and getting the hardcover for free."

    I know my biggest problem is retraining my head on how to think about distribution and versions in this bright new age.