The 40,000th book entered the Smashwords catalog last week.
Smashwords authors and publishers have released over 5,000 new titles in the last 30 days.
To put this in perspective, we published 140 titles in all of 2008. In 2009, our catalog grew to 6,000, and at the end of 2010 (only three months ago), our title count stood at 28,500. We're on track to meet or beat my goal of 75,000 titles by the end of 2011.
1.7 billion words are now published at Smashwords.
We're witnessing the unfettered liberation of the collective creative efforts of over 16,000 Smashwords authors and small publishers from around the globe.
We put the printing press in the sky and made it freely available and accessible to all. Indie authors and small presses are using Smashwords to publish and distribute direct to readers.
Readers are the new curators. Reader word-of-mouth, catalyzed by social media, drive book discovery and sales.
Critics of self-publishing will say that many of these books are drek and not ready for prime time. Certainly, this is true of some of these books. We make it almost too easy to become a published author, but we don't make it easy to become a great author. That's the author's responsibility.
Some authors, despite our best advice, cut corners and upload books that haven't been thoroughly edited, revised and proofed. Others upload books with poor-quality ebook covers. Readers have little patience for such shoddy, unprofessional work. These titles either earn scathing reviews or receive the worst punishment any book can face: they're ignored by readers.
Despite the inevitable drek, the upside of an open printing press is that we allow books to get out there that would never be published by a traditional publisher. Quality books. Books from authors who made the effort to honor their reader with a great read. This advantage of the open printing press, in my opinion, far outweighs any downside.
Traditional publishers are in the business of publishing books that sell. As I mentioned here previously, they judge books through a backward-looking commercial filter. They acquire today what was selling yesterday so they can publish more of the same 12 months from now.
Often, commercial appeal and quality intersect, but not always. Books with small target markets, or authors without established platforms, or authors who are ahead of their time are of little interest to Big Publishers. These commercial publishers also have difficulty predicting which books will have commercial appeal. They make their best guess but ultimately it's the readers who decide.
Does size matter? Yes. Hidden in these numbers are works of genius and yes, here and there, tomorrow's best sellers.