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.