Smashwords (Smashwords, Inc.), based in Los Gatos, California, is an ebook self-publishing and distribution platform founded by Mark Coker. The company began public operation in 2008.
Smashwords is a self-serve publishing service. Authors upload their manuscripts as Microsoft Word files to the Smashwords service, which converts the files into multiple ebook formats for reading on various ebook reading devices. Once published, the books are made available for sale online at a price set by the author. Smashwords does not use DRM.
Coker began work on Smashwords in 2005 and officially launched the website in May 2008. Within the first seven months of launching, the website published 140 books. Due to initially low profits, Coker switched to a distribution model that offered retailers a "30% commission in exchange for digital shelf space". Smashwords achieved a profit in 2010 and has partnered with Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Sony. At one point, Smashwords also uploaded books into KDP, Amazon.com's ebook publishing website, but no longer offers this service, due to a falling out with Amazon. In 2012, Smashwords announced that it would potentially partner with 3M Cloud Library, which would allow for the option for their authors' books to be available in libraries, and that it had reached about 127,000 titles by 44,000 authors.
Some Smashwords authors distribute free copies of their books via lotteries at such sites as LibraryThing and Goodreads, in exchange for reader reviews. Smashwords reports they are the leading distributor for indie authors.
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