Last month we celebrated our three year anniversary.
I thought it would be fun to share some traffic data in the form of a picture that tells 2.2 billion words.
At left is a chart showing weekly traffic to the Smashwords.com web site since May 2008.
If you look carefully (click to expand the image), you'll see it's tough to discern the blips for most of 2008. Those were the early days when we were little more than a curiosity.
Back in 2008, self-publishing didn't command much respect. It was seen as the publishing option of last resort for failed authors. It wasn't uncommon back then for me to receive emails from previously print-published authors who'd write, "Do you think I'm nuts? There's no way I'm going to allow my work to appear alongside these amateurs." I don't receive those emails anymore.
I founded Smashwords with the firm conviction there's a vast human potential trapped inside the minds and fingertips of unpublished writers. I thought if we could provide the enabling tools to help writers unleash their potential upon the world - to be judged by readers - that great things could happen.
Today, great things are happening. Indie authors are inching up the best-seller lists, and their success inspires the next wave to go indie. Yet commercial success and the promise or potential thereof is not the primary driver for the indie revolution. Writers write for reasons different than publishers publish.
More writers will write, more will publish, and more will bypass publishers to connect directly to readers. Big Publishers will become an afterthought in the minds of tomorrow's indie author.
The publishing industry has no clue what's about to happen. Talk to any Smashwords author or publisher, especially those who were once worked with New York, and they'll tell you where things are headed.
A forest fire is about to consume the dead wood, and out of the ashes will spring forth a new and vibrant publishing ecosystem offering unprecedented diversity of literary riches more magnificent than anything ever imagined. This is inevitable. In fact, it's already happening at Smashwords and our retail distribution partners Apple, Sony, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Diesel.
It's what happens when writers are given the freedom to publish on their own terms, and readers are given the freedom to read what they like. It represents the inevitable progression of human intention enabled by the Internet revolution.
The genie of human potential has escaped the bottle. You, my dear indie author or publisher, will write the next chapter.